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How new assistant coaches will have a big impact this season

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Just like having depth on a player roster, it helps to have depth in the coaching staff. Texas Longhorns head football coach Steve Sarkisian knows that and made some important support staff hires over the summer.

During his season-opening press conference Tuesday, Sarkisian spoke at length about three assistants he hired to help all three phases.

On defense, Sarkisian brought in Payam Saadat, a former associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Portland State in the FCS-level Big Sky Conference. Saadat’s pedigree goes back to 1995 when he began his coaching career at Santa Monica College, three different stints at Cal Poly, NCAA Division II programs Western Washington and Central Washington and Army West Point.

Saadat’s expertise is in the flex style defense, a scheme that was popularized by the University of Arizona coach Dick Tomey in the 1990s as the “Arizona Desert Swarm,” led by Super Bowl champion Tedy Bruschi. It features a roving linebacker/defensive back that can help disguise coverages and make figuring out who to block confusing for the offense, and Sarkisian said he wanted to get better at some of those elements.

“He’s a guy with a really cool background in defensive football,” Sarkisian said of Saadat. “Historically, that kind of defense provided a lot of pressure on the quarterback and created one-on-one matchups up front.”

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Sarkisian also said he “really loved the rapport” with the staff when Saadat came to visit about the job. He said when bringing people in, he wants coaches to enhance and build on the chemistry they’ve already created.

Saadat’s role will be similar to what former TCU coach Gary Patterson did last season. While Patterson left the program to spend more time with his family, he hinted at a potential return in a recent interview with Horns247. Sarkisian said as of now, Patterson isn’t with the program but also said, “we’ll see where it goes from here.”

On offense, former Wisconsin Badgers head coach Paul Chryst joins the staff. Chryst is 86-45 in 11 years as a head coach, spending the past eight with the Badgers before the school fired him in October 2022. He was the offensive coordinator for the Badgers from 2006-11 before leaving to take the head job at Pitt in 2012, and then returning to Madison to be the head coach in 2015.

He was the coordinator for Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson and helped lead the Badgers to 44.1 points per game in the 2011 season.

Sarkisian said he and Chryst know each other from their days in the NFL, and while it might seem like an odd pairing from a stylistic standpoint, Sarkisian said it’ll work.

“I know a lot of people wouldn’t think of me and Wisconsin football … lining up and in the power running game and the playaction pass,” Sarkisian said. “But inevitably, once you get at the core, there are a lot of similarities to what we do.”

Another key hire is longtime NFL special team coordinator Joe DeCamillis. Sarkisian said DeCamillis, “provides a wealth of knowledge and experience.” He coached in the NFL for 32 years and won Super Bowls with the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos.

Sarkisian said DeCamillis will take some responsibilities formerly held by Dave Brock, now at Rutgers, to help with game management along with a special teams role.

“He has a championship pedigree,” Sarkisian said of DeCamillis.

The Longhorns start fall camp Wednesday and play their first game of the season at home Sept. 2 against Rice.

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