Shawn Watson

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Georgia hires ex-Pitt offensive coordinator Shawn Watson for quality control job

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Former Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has found a new job. Watson is heading down to Georgia to take on a role as an offensive quality control analyst.

“Shawn brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with him after coaching the offensive side of the ball around the country during his career,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said in a released statement. “He is an excellent addition to our staff and we are pleased to have him in Athens already.”

Watson served as offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh for the past two seasons, replacing Matt Canada on the staff led by Pat Narduzzi. After a down year for the Pitt offense, however, Watson was one of the coaches relieved of their duties by Narduzzi at the end of the 2018 football season. At Georgia as a quality control analyst, Watson will help monitor the offense and assist in coaching and player development.

Watson will take on the role previously held at Georgia by Jay Johnson. Johnson left Georgia to join new Colorado head coach Mel Tucker, who was Georgia’s defensive coordinator. Georgia is still looking to fill the role of defensive coordinator in Athens.

Texas confirms staff changes, including hiring of Sterlin Gilbert

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An all-out blitz from Texas leaders apparently paid off. Tulsa offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert will be the new offensive coordinator for the Texas Longhorns. He will not be alone either, as offensive line coach Matt Mattox will be joining him to fill the same role at Texas.

Texas leaders went all out to make a sales pitch to Gilbert so convincing it would lure him away from Tulsa. In addition to head coach Charlie Strong, Texas sent athletics director Mike Perrin and university president Greg Fenves to do the talking, likely in a show of support for Strong as the head coach of the embattled Longhorns for the foreseeable future. Gilbert accepted an offer to join Strong’s staff with a three-year contract paying $850,000 per year.

Texas has also announced Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline will not return to the Longhorns program in 2016 as Strong continues to make staff changes in hopes of turning a corner before it is too late.

So now the work begins on getting Texas to play some offense. In the Big 12, offense is essential, and Texas has been left behind. With Gilbert on board, the hope is Texas will see a quick turnaround, and if possible see the kind of instant impact Oklahoma saw with an offensive coordinator change this past offseason (of course, Texas beat Oklahoma, but you get the idea). Texas will play some good defense, but with programs like Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech lighting up the scoreboard in conference play, the Longhorns are in big need of some quick offensive results.

Charlie Strong shakes up Texas coaching duties

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After an embarrassing loss on the road at Notre Dame to open the 2015 season, Texas head coach Charlie Strong has shaken things up in search of a way to fix the Longhorns offense. Jay Norvell will now be the sole play-caller on the Texas coaching staff, with Shawn Watson being stripped of play-calling responsibilities. Watson will concentrate his efforts solely on the quarterbacks moving forward.

Norvell was hired by Texas as a receivers coach after previously serving on the coaching staff at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops. His latest stop at Texas is the ninth different program or team he has been with since serving as a graduate assistant at Iowa in the mid-1980s. Norvell will look to turn things around on offense by bringing more balance to the offensive gameplan. Start looking for Texas to try running the football a bit more, something Strong commented on the previous day in lamenting the dreadful performance Texas had at Notre Dame Saturday night.

Texas had just 163 yards of total offense in South Bend. Sure, Notre Dame’s defense is a pretty tight group, but that number is embarrassingly low for a program like Texas. The Longhorns converted just two of 14 third down attempts and averaged just 2.1 yards per rushing attempt. Texas held on to the football for just over 20 minutes to Notre Dame’s 39:10 advantage in time of possession. Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes completed seven of 22 pass attempts for 93 yards and running back Johnathan Gray carried the football just eight times for 40 yards.

This also should be interesting news to the folks in Stillwater. Oklahoma State may now be entitled to a nice paycheck from the University of Texas as  a result of this coaching shakeup in Austin. An ongoing legal dispute between the two Big 12 programs is focusing on the coaching responsibilities of former Oklahoma State offensive line coach Joe Wickline. Wickline was hired by Texas and then sued by Oklahoma State for a breach of contract. Oklahoma State claims Wickline’s move from the Cowboys to Longhorns was a lateral move, which would mean Wickline broke his contract. Strong and Texas have stated Wickline was responsible for some of the play-calling duties. With Wickline not in the fold for play-calling duties amid the coaching staff changes at Texas, it would seem to mean Oklahoma State is due some money.

Texas and Oklahoma State are scheduled to go to a pretrial conference on October 23. Perhaps this may avoid the hassle.

Saying what we already know, Charlie Strong says Texas offense must do better

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Texas opened the 2015 season with a thud. A program looking to find its way and once again be the top program in the state of Texas left South Bend with a 38-3 loss. On Monday, Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong made it known to all that is simply not acceptable. Of course, he didn’t need to say that to anyone. We already knew that, but at least Strong has acknowledged it head on.

“(Saturday’s outcome) is not acceptable,” Strong said during his Monday press conference (via The Dallas Morning News). “As coaches we know we have to coach better, and as players we know we have to play a lot better. It’s something you want to restart the season and push that button, and we went back to work last night, had the players out on Sunday, and what we do on Sundays is we go back out and just do a small focus on Rice, but we go back to the game on Saturday and it’s all about corrections and taking our time with plays that didn’t work and how we can get better and how we can improve.”

Strong, in his own words, said the coaches and players must do better moving forward. I’m sure he would be the first to admit he can do more as well, because Strong comes off as an accountable coach capable of realizing when he may have fallen short in his own responsibilities. His follow-up comments suggest he is already taking some blame (or perhaps he is putting more blame on his offensive coordinators, Joe Wickline and Shawn Watson.

“(Offensive struggles) cannot happen,” Strong said. “We have some talented players there. You look at Johnathan Gray, he touched the ball eight times the other night. He’s a back that needs the ball. The ball needs to be fed to him anywhere from 15 to 20 to 25 times … We have some athletes there on offense there. We’ve just got to do a better job of spreading the ball around and making sure that the right guys get the touches.”

Pay attention to how much active Gray is in the Texas offense this week against Rice. Gray getting the football 20 times will surely be no coincidence. Strong also acknowledged the lack of advertised up-tempo offense against Notre Dame.

“We said we were going to be up tempo. There was no up tempo. We said we were going to do this … But there’s got to be hope and there’s got to be progress.”

In the grand scheme of things, the job Strong was undertaking at Texas was always going to be a multi-year reconstruction rather than a one-year patch work fix for the Longhorns. In defense of Texas, they have allowed Strong to run his program his way by setting his bar to his liking and not acepting anyhting less. Given his work at Louisville, Texas is wise to allow Strong to continue molding things to his liking. But Texas is a bit different than some other programs. With big money donors and resources few schools have at their luxury, the pressure on Strong may be a bit different than other places. The 2016 season is supposed to be Year 2 of the renovation plan for Strong, and there is still plenty of football to be played to show those desired signs of progress. One massive blow on the road against Notre Dame was certainly not the best way to get things started, but now that it is out of the way Strong and company can focus on what to do next to ensure this program is still being steered in the right direction.

Oklahoma State wants Charlie Strong on the record on who calls the offensive shots at Texas

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As the unique legal battle between Oklahoma State and Texas continues, the Cowboys have notified Texas officials they expect Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong to go on record with a sworn statement regarding who was calling the offensive plays at Texas in 2014.

This is hardly one school being bitter over the result of a game and the other side filing a counter-suit though. There is money involved, because of course there is money involved.

Oklahoma State filed a lawsuit in October against former Pokes assistant coach Joe Wickline as the two squabbled over contract terms after Wickline left Stillwater to coach in Austin. Wickline was to be given play-calling duties at Texas, which according to Oklahoma State would mean he owes his previous employer $600,000. It is Oklahoma State’s belief Wickline does not hold play-calling responsibilities, which would be terms for collecting up to $600,000.

Aside from Wickline, the two coaches who would seem to know for sure who calls the offensive plays in Austin would be Strong, the head coach of the Longhorns, and co-offensive coordinator Shawn Watson. Oklahoma State wants both coaches to provide sworn testimony answering who calls the offensive plays. Wickline is said to call the plays, although Watson has the final say before the plays go in.

Wickline filed a lawsuit of his own against Oklahoma State claiming “tortuous interference” by the university.