New offensive coordinator Tim Beck talks about Nebraska's offense... in really rough, abstract terms.
Key Points: Tim Beck aims to install his imprint on the offense, mentioning that he wants to simplify some of the schemes, simplify the verbage and have the players understand the philosophy of the offense so that they can better adjust to defensive coordinators changes -during the plays if need be.
"I want our players to understand our offense, and to run our offense. I don't want them to run plays."
So you're asking - just what the hell does that mean?
Sam McKewon has an excellent write up that explains the problem with "running plays".
My take on it - it's the difference between assignment football and what Tim Beck wants to achieve, which is more variance in the offense. The easiest way to understand the concept is to think of the difference between one-on-one assignment blocking on the offensive line versus the zone blocking schemes employed by, well, by most teams these days.
In assignment blocking, a lineman has a specific assignment, typically to block a "called hole", which is okay until the defense lines up in a formation that either confuses the lineman or puts him in a position where he simply can't make the block.
Zone blocking allows the linemen to be more flexible in how they block each play. Instead of an assignment, they're reading the defense much like a quarterback is reading a defensive secondary. They're going to determine their blocks based on their ability to carry them out as well as the "threat level" of the defender - the defender's ability to blow up the play.
The good news about this type of blocking is that it is independent of whatever formation is being run, i.e., the concepts are the same regardless if the backs are aligned in the "I", Oregon's spread, Ace, or five-wide passing formation. While it seems more difficult to learn, in the long run it proves to be much simpler because the offensive line doesn't have to memorize a long list of plays, but only the concepts of the blocking scheme in order to be successful.
The same concepts apply to the passing game. Rather than having a specific assignment on a passing route, a receiver will read the defense and determine that he needs to adjust his route, knowing that the quarterback will make the same read and adjust with him. While it seems more complex, much like the line blocking, it allows the players to make adjustments on the fly.
The key is - getting everyone on the same page when they're making their adjustments. You've heard about ‘chemistry' between a quarterback and receiver? That's what they're talking about. That will take some time, and it will take a fair amount of study for everyone involved.
One thing I wish Beck would have done - given the offense a name. He did the same thing that Shawn Watson did - "you guys call it whatever you want" - but at least Beck didn't go with the lame "Nebraska offense" reference used by Watson.
Or I could be completely off base. Maybe Beck is just planning on going with this.