Press box or on-field? Herman, coordinators explain preferences for game day location

A peculiarity surrounding every new assistant coaching hire is figuring out their locations on game day. Texas took away some intrigue when the game notes for Saturday’s game with UTEP listed where Texas’ 10 assistants would be during the 2020 season.

All the Longhorn assistant coaches with the exception of offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich and wide receivers coach Andre Coleman plan to coach from the field this year. Defensive coordinator Chris Ash will coach from the sideline with his entire defensive staff at field level.

Ash, Yurcich, and head coach Tom Herman were asked recently about the advantages and disadvantages of each game day position.

Calling from the box:

“I always preferred to be in the box,” Herman, who has called plays from both vantage points, said August 30. “I preferred the sterility of that environment to not get caught up in the emotion, energy, and adrenaline that is very prevalent on the sideline. Then obviously, the view from up there is phenomenal in terms of seeing all 22 guys.”

“When you’re upstairs, obviously the viewpoint,” Yurcich, who was in the booth as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, said September 9. “You can see a little bit better. Rotations, safeties, coverage, you can see the whole field. Most times you can see all 11 defenders and what the structure of the defense is. It allows you to be a little more cerebral. You’re not as caught up in the emotion and the physiciality and the intensity, so you can be a little bit more cognitive or cerebral.”

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“Until I had become a head coach, I had never been on the field,” Ash said August 26. “I had been in the press box my whole career. Actually, when I moved onto the field the first game day that I was a head coach, on the sideline it was different. It was weird.”

Calling from the field:

“There is something to be said about having the pulse of your team on the field and looking guys in the eye in between series, talking things out, drawing stuff on the board and all of that,” Herman said.

“When you’re on the field, you get to talk to the quarterback eyeball to eyeball,” Yurcich said. “You get to see the emotion. You get to feel that emotion. Sometimes, when you’re a playcaller that goes by intuition, it can help to feed off that. You can feel that flow, the players can feel your energy, and that goes back and forth. In between series, you can gather the whole offense and communicate directly to them. That’s a great benefit to have that as well.”

How to make it work:

“The biggest thing is the strength of the staff,” Ash said. “Putting people in the right place with the right eyes on game day so you can get the right information. I think right now for me and our staff, it would be best served for me to be on the sideline at the University of Texas.”

“In order for Chris to do that, he’s got to feel comfortable with the guys that are giving him information from the box,” Herman said. “Right now, he feels good that information is going to be valuable and impactful. He wants to be on the field and I’m excited to see it.”

“The thing that has to happen when you’re considering whether to be upstairs or downstairs is you have to understand your staff and what their role will be,” Yurcich said. “With Coach Herman on the sideline, who has called it and who knows the personnel extremely well, if there needs to be an adjustment he obviously can communicate that to the offense.“

“There’s trust in those guys that they’ll be able to communicate and adjust and to rally their troops whenever that need be.”