To say the Texas Longhorns' special teams performances have been lackluster over the last few years would be a massive understatement. Aside from punter Michael Dickson (who was arguably the most consistent player on the entire roster last season), special teams have been underwhelming, underachieving units for Texas as of late.
But there might be a light at the end of this dark tunnel under first-year head coach Tom Herman.
Safeties coach and special teams coordinator Craig Naivar described the importance the head coach places on S/T with one sentence.
"He sits in every meeting and coaches a position on every special teams unit."
Herman is a very detail-oriented head coach. Naivar referred to him as someone who has everything "planned to a T long before the situation ever happens."
His involvement in special teams is yet another example of Herman's hands-on coaching style, only this time, his approach directly impacts the team's depth chart.
"We have a couple of rules I won't share (publicly), but they are defined on, if you're going to play on offense or defense, you're going to have to do so much as it regards to special teams," Naivar said.
"When you talk about emphasis, the head football coach is in the very front row of every special teams meeting and coaches individual positions on every unit that's out there."
Not every head coach takes a vested interest in coaching special teams, but as we are all learning, Herman may not be like many other head football coaches.
Herman has stressed the importance of building the right culture in order for the football team to have success. According to Naivar, the coaches feel the performance of special teams is a direct reflection of a team's culture.
"He's been a special teams guy before, so he understands the structure it brings to the football team," Naivar said of the head coach.
"He also understands it's one place where offensive and defensive players come together, and it's really a reflection of the culture of your team. Your (kick and punt) coverage team is a reflection of your culture of your team."
If special teams are truly a reflection of a team's culture, then the way the last three seasons played out for Texas would make a lot more sense.
It's no secret the Longhorns have experienced some S/T blunders over the last several years. (In an effort to not bring up negative memories for the HD members, I won't expand on the issues.)
But with Herman being so actively engaged in changing the culture of Texas football, and the head coach believing special teams are a reflection of his culture; it's hard not to think S/T woes from the past will remain just there - in the past.
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