clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Meet the new guy on the 40 Acres: Texas OC Sterlin Gilbert

Learn more about the new, relatively unknown offensive coordinator!

...wait, who? Sterlin Gilbert!  (STIR-lin GIHL-burt) Gilbert is the new Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator. Previously, Gilbert worked as co-offensive coordinator at TU -- the University of Tulsa. After rejecting a two-year offer from Texas, Gilbert agreed to a three-year deal, but everybody knows length of contracts don't matter anymore, right Mack Brown and Rick Barnes? With Charlie Strong hot-seat rumors constantly fluttering in the wind, Gilbert may only have one year to impress enough to keep his job.

Okay, well, did Gilbert play anywhere? Gilbert played quarterback at Angelo State, a NCAA Division II school, from 1999-2001. Quarterbacking the Rams for three years, Gilbert won All-Lone Star Conference QB twice. In his best season, he threw for 1,600 yards, 14 touchdowns, and ran for another 400 yards. However, Gilbert never completed more than 45 percent of his passes for the year. The Rams went 12-8 during the two years Gilbert started.

What does his coaching resume look like? Sterlin doesn't possess as much experience as Longhorn faithful would like. He started in 2005 at the University of Houston as a graduate assistant. Art Briles, current Baylor head coach and same person rumored around the Texas job before Charlie Strong took over, coached Houston in 2005. With the Cougars and under the Briles coaching tree, Gilbert met many of the people he'd work with at the collegiate level, including offensive line coach/running game coordinator Matt Mattox.

After 2005, Gilbert reappeared coaching in the NCAA at the FCS level in 2012 with Eastern Illinois. Dino Babers, who worked with Gilbert at Houston, hired Gilbert at Illinois.

Brought on as an offensive coordinator, Sterlin coached for two years with the team, averaging over 40-points-per-game, while working with current New England Patriots quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. In his two years, despite being offensive coordinator, Gilbert did not call the plays full time. Instead, as he noted in his introductory press conference, he only called plays occasionally.

In 2014, Gilbert relocated with Babers to Bowling Green University. Managing the offense with Babers, the offense averaged over 400 yards per game, ranking 44th in the nation. Bowling Green scored 30-points-per-game with a balanced attack of 260 passing yards-per-game and 173 rushing yards.

In 2015, Gilbert migrated to the University of Tulsa to coach with Philip Montgomery, another coach under the Briles tree. Tulsa's offense ranked 13th in total offense with 507 yards per game. Gilbert tutored another well-balanced attack, with over 300 yards passing and 150 yards rushing, Gilbert, again, was not the play-caller.

So even though he's installed the Briles "veer-and-shoot" offense four times now in college, his play-calling experience at this level is quite limited.

Play calling aside, Gilbert's only coached collegiately for 5 years?!? Yes. Gilbert's a young 37 years old. Between Houston in 2005 and Eastern Illinois in 2012, Gilbert coached around the Texas high school ranks.

Following Houston in 2005, Gilbert worked as offensive coordinator at Abilene Cooper High School in Texas. Working with former Briles assistant Mike Spradlin, currently the head coach at Temple, the team went 9-12 in two years, with a losing record both seasons and averaging 22.5 points per game, according to numbers from Max Preps. But, Gilbert drew praise with the state's top passing offense in District 3-5A.

In 2008, Gilbert returned to his alma mater, San Angelo Lake View High School, this time as head coach. His homecoming party wasn't great. During his first year back home, Sterlin coached the team to a 6-6 record and won West Texas Coach of the Year. The next two years Gilbert had little success, as the Chiefs went 3-17. Throughout Gilbert's span as head coach, the team scored 22.4 points per game, a regression of 0.1 points from Abilene.

Gilbert resigned at San Angelo to take the offensive coordinator job at Temple High School, re-joining Spradlin. His one year at Temple produced his only winning record in the high school ranks as coach at 6-5. The team scored 30.3 points per game. Gilbert then went to Eastern Illinois with Babers in 2012.

So what skill set is Gilbert bringing Texas? Gilbert is labeled a quarterback guru. At Eastern Illinois during the 2012-13 season, Gilbert helped Garappolo win the FCS equivalent of the Heisman trophy, the Walter Payton Award. Garappolo dissected his competition in amassing over 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards under Gilbert's guidance, eventually working himself to a second-round selection in the NFL Draft and the cushy gig of backing up Tom Brady with the New England Patriots.

Without NFL talent, Gilbert's still been successful -- his one season at Bowling Green started with the incumbent getting injured. His next option, James Knapke, threw only 10 total attempts going into the season, yet finished the season with 3,173 yards passing, ranking seventh on the all-time single-season list at Bowling Green.

Gilbert also coached Zach Allen at Temple High School, a dual-threat quarterback now at TCU.

What style of play will Gilbert unleash? In Gilbert's opening press conference he said, "Coach (Charlie Strong) just said what he wants, he was looking for an up-tempo offense." Texas fans have been waiting for this mythical "up-tempo" offense, being promised a quicker pace for three years and it hasn't happened. Gilbert will make it happen.

He's a member of the Art Briles coaching philosophy, meaning the offense will run in constant hurry-up mode, leaning more on the running game. The 2016 Texas running game will feature some gap schemes and zone blocking schemes, but, the go-to style will be a physical power scheme, perfect for emerging running back D'Onta Foreman.

Similar to Baylor, quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers will have a lot post-snap reads, changing routes on the fly once the defense commits.

Speaking of quarterback, who will be starting for Texas in the 2016-2017 season? Gilbert's made no mention of who the starter will be since he didn't have a chance to review any film before his first and only press conference. Returners Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes offer veteran presences, but freshmen Kai Locksley and Shane Buechele will get chances over the spring and summer, as will Matthew Merrick. Regardless of which one wins the starting job, they'll be running an offense never seen by Texas fans, lead by Sterlin Gilbert.