When Texas lost to Oklahoma last October, it was clear that Texas was off course. The team’s energy screamed dejection and disappointment. Statements made prior to the game weren’t held up once the game in the Cotton Bowl kicked off, and it was clear Texas was still reeling from it. While the downward spiral of the 2019 season hadn’t yet begun, change was needed.
“If you’re driving down I-35 and you’re heading south and all of a sudden you realize you need to be heading north, it’s not okay to just realize it,” head coach Tom Herman said following the loss. “You (have got to) do something about it.”
Herman and the Longhorns did something about it: They hired seven new assistants. Many of the assistants had a tie to Herman in the past, a connection that proved to be crucial in deciding who gets to take part in trying to turn Texas around.
“(Familiarity) is important,” Herman said. “Everybody’s got great interview skills and everybody’s gonna have somebody call and recommend them, so when you go outside of the people you’re familiar with, it becomes a bit of a crapshoot.”
Although the 2020 season opener is still nearly seven months away, certain changes are already visible — particularly in the wide receiver room, where a new coach has taken over and the top two targets from last year have departed.
“We want to learn on a bigger scale,” wide receivers coach Andre Coleman said. “We want to learn big picture, which means you can play anywhere. A lot of these guys have aspirations of going to the next level. If you want to go to the next level … you gotta learn to scheme — that’s what my philosophy and mentality is when it comes to my approach to teaching.”
Along with the change in teaching philosophy, positional changes are also in store. Herman announced that three players — soon-to-be sophomores Jordan Whittington, Malcolm Epps and Roschon Johnson — are at different positions than where they started their Texas career.
Johnson will stay at running back, which puts the quarterback label he was recruited as in the backseat. Malcolm Epps, and his 6-foot-6-inch frame, is being moved to tight end. Finally, Jordan Whittington is moving back to slot receiver.
“We (have) got to get our best 11 on the field,” offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said. “Our best 11 may not be our best 11 players. They’re the 11 that (play) together the best.”
Going into this season, the biggest change will be the fact that Tom Herman has relinquished play-calling duties. Over the course of the 2019 season, Herman described the play-calling duties as a partnership with him and former offensive coordinator Tim Beck. On Tuesday, Herman and Yurcich confirmed the offensive coordinator would have the job. Yurcich was excited about the opportunity to call plays, to say the least.
“That’s a big reason why,” Yurcich said. “That’s a heck of a responsibility. But it’s something that, you know, it gets me off.”