Texas offseason begins with overhauled staff

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Texas sits in the midst of an eventful offseason after finishing with three-straight losing seasons for the first time since the 1930s. 

Texas appointed Tom Herman as its successor to former head coach Charlie Strong in late November, and Herman has worked tirelessly to hire his coaching staff ever since.

Herman boasted a 22–5 record in two seasons at Houston and hopes to replicate that success with the Longhorns. He introduced several members of his former staff to Austin, including his former defensive coordinator.

Todd Orlando will replace Vance Bedford and Strong in anchoring the young Longhorn defense. Orlando’s unit excelled last season at Houston, finishing with the 14th-ranked defense in total yards allowed per game. Conversely, Texas’ defense ranked 94th.

“Todd is as good as it comes in a defensive coordinator,” Herman said. “He did an unbelievable job for us at Houston and has long track record of leading defenses that speaks for itself.” 

Orlando’s defense caused nightmares for running backs last season, only yielding 100.15 rushing yards per game — good for fourth in the nation. He also masterminded the stifling of Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. His defense sacked the Louisville quarterback 11 times in a dominant victory.

Orlando inherits a young but experienced front three in his 3–4 defensive scheme. Sophomore defensive end Charles Omenihu, sophomore defensive tackle Chris Nelson and junior defensive tackle Poona Ford combined for five sacks last season but could be in for breakout seasons with Orlando at the helm. 

Orlando coached freshman defensive tackle Ed Oliver at Houston to All-American honors last season, so the defensive line is expected to flourish for the Longhorns in 2017.

Offensively, Herman hired former Ohio State co-offensive coordinator Tim Beck on Jan. 3. Just three days prior, Beck was under national scrutiny after the Buckeyes’ offense posted zero points in a blowout loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal. Herman didn’t take Ohio State’s struggle against the eventual national champion as a sign of caution. 

“Not only is he a coach that is highly thought of in our business, but he’s an unbelievable person who does a tremendous job developing players, building relationships, working with a staff, recruiting — everything you’re looking for as a head coach in an assistant,” Herman said. 

The Longhorns will lose Doak Walker Award winner D’Onta Foreman to the NFL Draft, but Beck has the weapons to revitalize the offense. Four of 5 starting offensive linemen will return, along with two up-and-coming running backs in sophomore Chris Warren and freshman Kyle Porter.

Along with play-calling duties, Beck assumes the position of quarterbacks coach for the Longhorns. He faces a crucial decision this offseason — one that will probably linger until August. 

He must decide whether freshman quarterback Shane Buechele or incoming commit and Elite 11 quarterback Sam Ehlinger will start under center. Ehlinger headlines Texas’ early recruiting class, one that will be complete on National Signing Day on Feb. 1.

Herman has excelled at recruiting in the past, earning Houston’s first-ever five-star recruit when Oliver committed in 2016. His current recruiting class ranks in the 30s and 40s by various media outlets, but Herman can continue his recruiting success and continue bringing major changes to Texas. 

With a revamped staff and new recruits, Herman attempts to sculpt the program he envisions Texas will evolve into.