Texas Introduces New Football Coaches Gilbert and Mattox


It’s been a whirlwind for Texas football the past few days. First, Tulsa co-OC Sterlin Gilbert was coming to call plays at Texas. Then he wasn’t. Then the president of the university, the athletics director, and the team’s head coach hopped a plane to the Sooner State. By Saturday afternoon, it was official, with a bonus: Tulsa assistant Matt Mattox would be joining Gilbert on Texas football staff as offensive line coach and running game coordinator. After Texas men’s basketball beat North Carolina later that day, Shaka Smart even joked that he’d asked Charlie Strong in the tunnel if he’d “gotten his man.”

Gilbert and Mattox were introduced to the press at noon on Monday at DKR–Texas Memorial Stadium. Strong kicked off the event, thanking Greg Fenves and Mike Perrin for their continued support of the program and mentioning that the offense was in need of a boost, before introducing Gilbert.

“How’s everybody doin’ today?” Gilbert drawled as he approached the podium. Clad in jeans and a white Longhorns windbreaker, the 37-year-old looked and sounded like he could have been plucked from the stands inside that very stadium.

He was immediately asked if he knew what he was getting into, meaning the microscope he’ll be placed under while running the offense of a team that desperately needs to get back on track after back-to-back losing seasons.

“Without a doubt,” Gilbert said confidently.

He mentioned his experience installing up-tempo offenses, his background coaching Texas high school football, and the inclusion of Mattox as reasons that he’s up to the task. Gilbert said he hasn’t yet interacted with returning quarterbacks Tyrone Swoopes or Jerrod Heard, as this weekend was a recruiting weekend—both for him and of him. This week begins a so-called “dead period” in the recruiting process, meaning college coaches can’t directly contact high school players, so it’ll give him ample time to meet the current offensive unit.

When asked if he’d consider playing a true freshman at quarterback—meaning four-star Lamar High School (Arlington, Texas) prospect Shane Buechele is committed for 2016—Gilbert stated that he’s “gonna play the best guy, and the best guy has got to perform.”

Gilbert deflected a question about the big recruiting push that included President Fenves jetting to Tulsa last weekend. “It was about commitment,” he said. “I’m here now. That’s it.”

Next up was the towering Maddox. An imposing figure himself—the 33-year-old is a head taller than Gilbert and looks like he could sub in at left tackle—he repeatedly used the word “physical” to describe how his offensive line would play. Mattox emphasized establishing a physical, downhill running game using multiple backs, likely D’Onta Foreman and late-season star Chris Warren III. He went one step further in demonstrating his reliance on a run-first scheme with an anecdote from his past:

“I had a coach one time tell me, ‘We’re gonna run a play and it’s called mama,'” Mattox said. “When all else fails and a girl breaks up with you, you go home, and you call mama.”

Mattox said he wants to recruit big, physical linemen who can handle the new crew’s up-tempo scheme while also stressing the symbiotic relationship he will have with his players.

“We’re going to coach ’em hard,” Mattox said, “and at the end of the day we’re going to love ’em hard too.” This echoed an earlier statement from Gilbert, who said that as former Texas high school coaches, the foundation of their coaching is based on close relationships with the players.

Gilbert and Mattox have known each other since they were both graduate assistants under Art Briles at Houston in 2005. While Gilbert stated that the two former Tulsa assistants weren’t part of a package deal, Mattox is the “number one piece” to the success of the offense.

“I wouldn’t say it was a cattle/calf deal,” Gilbert said. “It’s just a fit.” Gilbert and Mattox also coached together at Eastern Illinois and Bowling Green. They join tight ends coach Jeff Traylor, formerly head coach of Gilmer High School.

“I love Jeff,” Gilbert said. “I don’t know whose accent is heavier, mine or Traylor’s.”

It’s still nine long months until Gilbert and Mattox can showcase the new Texas product on the field at home against Notre Dame on September 3. When asked about his offensive philosophy, the 37-year-old Gilbert kept it short and sweet, giving fans something to look forward to.

“Fast, physical, have fun … and score points.”

Photo courtesy Texas Athletics.


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