The hire of Tulsa Golden Hurricane co-offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert turned out to be package deal for the Texas Longhorns with his co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Matt Mattox, who will also hold the title of run game coordinator.
Like Gilbert, Mattox also has deep ties to the Art Briles offense that he will install in Austin. In fact, he probably has an even deeper understanding of it because he's spent more time around Briles.
While Gilbert only spent one season with Briles as a graduate assistant with the Houston Cougars, Mattox played for Houston after transferring from Butler Community Colllege in his native state of Kansas. A tight end at the junior college level, he moved to offensive tackle as a senior and became a second-team All-Conference USA lineman in 2003.
By 2005, he was back at Houston working as an assistant strength and conditioning coach before becoming a graduate assistant. Mattox then caught on back at his alma mater, Butler Community College, for five years during an incredible run of success that included an NJCAA National Championship game appearance and four conference championships. Most importantly to his future career, Mattox showed an aptitude for developing his linemen, turning out 31 all-conference players and six junior college All-Americans.
After a year at Coffeyville Community College as the offensive coordinator, Mattox re-connected with the Briles coaching tree by making the move to Eastern Illinois to work with head coach Dino Babers and Gilbert, then followed the two to Bowling Green and Gilbert to Tulsa.
Overall, the rushing numbers don't look great for the Golden Hurricane from the 2015 season, in part because Gilbert's version of what is sometimes called the "veer and shoot" skewed a little more heavily towards the pass than most Baylor offenses in recent years. The offensive line for Mattox also had some issues giving up sacks on standard downs, but ranked No. 11 in stuff rate.
In looking at the make up of the offensive line, he didn't have much to work with -- a converted defensive tackle outside on the right, a former walk on at left tackle and a redshirt freshman at center. So even the modest numbers of terms of adjusted line yards (No. 69 nationally) and opportunity rate (No. 86 nationally) are a little more impressive given that context. And that stuff rate is a really impressive stat for that group.
Ian Boyd calls this the "easiest offense to play OL for in all of college football" and explains what Mattox wants in the running game:
The offensive line is usually either blocking at angles or getting in the way so size and power are key but the system can emphasize whatever style of run schemes the line can execute well when at advantage. There's usually a TE involved and he's a pure blocker that rarely has to do much in the way of receiving save for POP passes in the red zone.
Throw in his age (he's only 33), experience in the junior college ranks, and some ties to the state of Texas and he should be a much more effective recruiter than outgoing offensive line coach Joe Wickline.
In sum, Mattox is every bit as much of a rising star at his position as Gilbert is as an offensive coordinator and the schemes will make his job easier. He'll also have two long-term centerpieces in Patrick Vahe and Connor Williams and some quality experience with swing man Kent Perkins.
So this wasn't quite the sexy hire that landing Wickline was two years ago, but it has a lot better chance of working out for the Longhorns.