Dana Holgorsen has not made a decision on who will call plays for Houston Cougars football in 2023

Houston Cougars football head coach Dana Holgorsen stands with his team prior to a game against Texas Tech in the 2022 season. (Courtesy Houston Athletics)

Dana Holgorsen has not made a decision on who will call plays for Houston Cougars football in 2023

Houston Cougars football head coach Dana Holgorsen is enthusiastic about the staff he has heading into spring practices and his team’s inaugural Big 12 season, but no decision has been made yet on who will call plays in 2023.

Holgorsen spoke with reporters inside the Athletics Alumni Center on Monday afternoon and talked about the team’s coaching staff, which he feels has a good mix of returning and new faces that has him looking forward to collaborating with them in the coming weeks and throughout 2023.

“I am excited about what our coaching staff looks like right now,” Holgorsen said. “I think we have good continuity on defense and a plan with what we want to do. Even though there were a couple of changes offensively, we have good continuity on offense and we got a plan of what it needs to look like.”

The biggest question heading into the 2023 season will be who calls plays for the Cougars. The team’s offensive coordinator in 2022, Shannon Dawson, left the program earlier this month to become the new offensive coordinator at Miami.

Dawson and Holgorsen ran everything when it came to the offense in 2022, including getting signals to players, calling the actual plays, and getting and processing the information from the offensive analysts in the booth, the head coach said on Monday.

“I appreciate everything he did for us over the last four years,” said Holgorsen about Dawson. “You know, good for him. Got him a good job, man. I’m happy for him.”

Heading into the 2023 season, Houston made two major moves on the offensive staff: hiring Eman Naghavi to be the new running game coordinator and offensive line coach and promoting Michael Burchett to quarterbacks coach.

Both of them are expected to have a significant voice in Houston’s offense, Holgorsen said. Naghavi is someone the head coach has had an eye on for a while, he stated.

Naghavi’s Houston ties and the track record he’s had at other programs, not only during Tulane’s strong 2022 season but also at McNeese, Georgia State, Louisiana Monroe, and even back at Katy High School, are impressive, Holgorsen said.

As for Burchett, he has been with Holgorsen for at least 10 years, he said.

“[Burchett] has been pretty much coordinating the game plan for the last several years,” Holgorsen said. “So, he will continue to do that, and obviously be the quarterbacks coach as well.”

Burchett is ready to take the next step and be the quarterbacks coach, Holgorsen said multiple times on Monday. Houston also announced the additions of Jordan Salkin and Robert Beacham as offensive analysts to fill the void left by Burchett’s promotion.

Now that Dawson is gone, Houston has to figure out how his responsibilities will be distributed among the new offensive staff, including the play calling.

It could be Holgorsen, it could be Burchett, or it could be Naghavi. Throughout the spring practices, Holgorsen and the staff will be tinkering with different roles to find what area each coach thrives in, he said.

“At the end of the day, the buck stops with me, so if it falls on me, it falls on me [in reference to play calling],” Holgorsen said. “But, I think between me, Burch, and coach Naghavi, we are going to get a system in place that is going to be very successful. We are experimenting with everything right now. That is what spring is for.”

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