Husker offense's chemistry was missing
MINNEAPOLIS When Tim Beck took over as Nebraska's offensive coordinator in 2011, he had a natural competitive streak that cut through the professorial facade of most playcallers.
As he captivated a Football 202 audience the summer before his first season, he showed a few clips of Husker offensive players not hustling, not helping, not leading. He then showed a few clips of some the same players doing all those things. Beck aimed to create an offense that defined itself by those latter clips. Fast. Physical. Intuitive. Cohesive. Full of leaders.
For the second time this season, Beck's offense missed that standard in a 34 23 loss at Minnesota. No pace. Little rhythm. Little fire. Indecision seized the day. Injuries and inconsistency left one of the nation's trendiest coordinators talking low in a hallway, explaining how an offense that was expected to carry the Huskers had bogged down again.
Beck took the heat for a pass first, pass often game plan that had worked against the Gophers in 2012, but not Saturday. He took the blame for being unsure about whether to pull returning quarterback Taylor Martinez for a series as he had originally planned or to keep him in the game. Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg's uniforms remained unblemished at game's end.
Beck's been dealt bad cards. His top offensive lineman tore his knee. The lineman's twin brother is the only experienced tight end on the roster, and he's out, too. His top slot receiver seemingly gets hurt every fifth play. His top two outside receivers have been hot and cold catching the ball. His four year starting quarterback has a toe injury of some kind, the nature of which has been protected as if Martinez were a Kremlin leader.
But the OC become too reactive by half. He let a Minnesota defense with one great player and a handful of pretty good ones dictate his script. He asked Martinez, who may be experiencing shooting pain every time he steps to throw, to launch balloons to wide receivers who didn't get separation. He called screen passes even after the Gophers saw those screens coming. He called long developing pass plays even after it became clear NU's offensive line couldn't slow a four man Minnesota rush. Why?
they play man to man coverage like they do, they could win eight of them and we win two (out of 10), they're probably 14 points with the guys we got, Beck told The World Herald's Dirk Chatelain. just didn't make those plays. Kenny Bell made a big catch on the first drive and Beck's right: It led to a touchdown. An inside screen to Quincy Enunwa would have if tackle Brent Qvale hadn't impeded his path.
Still: If Beck's comfortable with two out of 10 that's two or three drives where Nebraska punts. Two or three drives where Minnesota holds the ball for an eternity.
Relying on receivers to catch deep balls from a rusty quarterback? That's risky on the road, in the cold and the wind, no matter how much you believe in the matchups. I watched Bill Callahan do that at Iowa State in 2004, throw 43 times with Joe Dailey as his starting quarterback because the matchups were there. NU lost 34 27, despite forcing seven punts and averaging 5.6 yards per rush.
Saturday, NU forced five punts and averaged 6.3 yards per rush. Beck stuck with the throw game.
Worse, Beck's offense remember he's paid $700,000, the most of any Big Ten offensive coordinator and more than some FBS head coaches played with few of the intangibles he's tried to instill. The Huskers competed with a middling effort and beveled edge. They didn't finish blocks. They didn't communicate well, and thus Gophers roamed free on defense. Receivers didn't catch what was thrown to them.
As the game progressed, you saw the usual huffs of frustration. Guys sulkily rose from the turf or turned to stare at the big screen inside TCF Bank Stadium and see where a play had gone wrong. After one series, Martinez jogged one way toward graduate assistant Joe Ganz while the rest of the offense jogged to the far end of the bench. Not many guys are picking each other up. When an offense doesn't huddle, it has to find alternate ways of reminding itself a team before and after each play.
But most Husker players appear so sensitive to potential conflict that unfiltered emotion is approached with caution or fear. So they'll look to Beck.
What does his offense become now? Saturday resembled late era Greg Davis at Texas or late era Shawn Watson at Nebraska: great athletes, spotty consistency, the occasionally explosive play, no dependability. It worked in 2009, but Nebraska's 2013 defense bears no resemblance to coach Bo Pelini's best. Beck's offense hummed better under Armstrong Justin Schultz Authentic Jersey and Kellogg, but consider the competition, and consider the opposing offenses. Purdue and Illinois couldn't do what Minnesota did.
Beck's paid the big bucks, so he needs to a chart a course, not waver and demand more accountability from the skill players he likes so much: Martinez, Enunwa, Bell, Ameer Abdullah and Jamal Turner. If those are your leaders if it's not the offensive line, which often led the best Husker teams fine. But they need to lead, and do it with a thick skin.
Their www.officialhockeyauthentic.com/womens-youth-nail-yakupov-authentic-jersey-c-1_167_682.html grip on excellence is slipping away. So is the season.
On with the Rewind.
I see you
The running back appears to be Nebraska's biggest weapon since injuries have diminished Martinez and the wide receivers have struggled catching the ball in the last two weeks. Can he Nail Yakupov Authentic Jersey stop fumbling?
running back David Cobb: Nebraska made him look like Arian Foster, but Cobb's a shifty back for a 225 pounder. He made many Huskers miss.
offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover: Yes, he cribbed from Wisconsin's plan in the Big Ten championship. So? Not every coordinator has. Limegrover called a masterful game.
Josh Mitchell: Made a nice hit on a tackle for loss and didn't seem to have major coverage problems.
end Avery Moss: I thought he played well enough and was one of a few defensive players to talk after the game. Moss referenced a number of veterans who were in our ears about how to correct things on defense. Those veterans didn't have many thoughts to share with the press (and thus the fans), however. They want to speak to the team, but not for it.
quarterback Philip Nelson: Clearly the Gophers' best signal caller, Nelson was clutch on key plays in the second half, especially throwing the ball. He executes a good play fake.
Pat Smith: Pounded home three field goals in a weird east www.officialhockeyauthentic.com/womens-youth-justin-schultz-authentic-jersey-c-1_167_683.html west stadium with a decent wind.
returner Jordan Westerkamp: Caught every punt. Some improvement is being made here. He also picked up Bell in the end zone toward the end of the first half. He wasn't necessarily the closest guy to Bell, but many of the Huskers just left the field. Another redshirt freshman leading.