AUSTIN, Texas — Tom Herman spent an entire offseason swatting away questions about who will call the plays for Texas, him or beleaguered offensive coordinator Tim Beck.
His latest answer came Monday
"We'll all be calling plays," Herman said, and he will have veto power. "The responsibility of the offense and its performance ultimately lies with me."
That led to more questions as No. 23 Texas heads into its season opener Saturday at Maryland. So when he was asked about it again a few minutes later, Herman looked straight into the cameras at his weekly news conference.
"Fans. The minute this offense gets a hangnail . blame me and the entire offensive staff. We good?" Herman said.
Since 2010, Texas has had three head coaches and seven offensive coordinators. Herman's predecessor, Charlie Strong, had three play callers in three seasons. Strong literally swore — in a civil lawsuit, no less — that play calling was a collaborative effort. But when things got bad, he didn't fire himself.
Herman, who made his bones as a national championship-winning coordinator at Ohio State in 2014, hired Beck from Nebraska last season and they struggled through 2017 together in a 7-6 finish. The Longhorns averaged 29 points per game and scored 24 or less six times.
Herman has always felt more comfortable calling plays from the assistant's box above the field. He tried to get more involved in last season's Texas Bowl win against Missouri, but even that was a struggle as the Longhorns had just 280 total yards.
He also knows coordinators are targets for taking heat from fans.
"I got criticized at Ohio State, and my boss took up for me. I got criticized at Iowa State at times, and my boss took up for me. Major Applewhite (at Houston) got criticized at times, and I took up for him, because it is unfair. It's absolutely unfair," Herman said.
Whoever calls the runs, passes and read options for the Longhorns will start Saturday with Sam Ehlinger at quarterback. Ehlinger, who had some turnovers problems and a sat out a game with a concussion last season, won the starting job over junior Shane Buechele.
Ehlinger is a bruising runner who led the team in rushing last season, much of it coming on scrambles behind a porous offensive line. He also had key late turnovers in three losses.
"We feel extremely good about our quarterback situation," Herman said. "Shane made it very difficult to make that decision. Probably the hardest decision that I've had to make as a head coach and coordinator."