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Nebraska's Tim Beck: How Much Risk Will He Take in 2011?

There hasn't been much written about Tim Beck's new offense recently. That's understandable, I guess, given that the spring game is long gone and the first game is still (seems like) forever away combined with the fact that Beck wouldn't talk much about his offense when the attention was focused on it in the first place.

When he talked, Beck talked about is his offensive philosophy - mostly translated in how his offense will differ from Shawn Watson's in that Beck will be calling a "concept" (loose translation) on each down instead of just calling a play. In other words, more reads and improvisation than set-in-stone, unchangeable plays. 

Beck could improve significantly over Watson in relatively simple fashion; by coming up with two or three bread and butter plays (or more, the idea being that a core is developed that can be depended upon given the situation) that the offense can rely on when they really need the yardage. Those are plays that won't depend as much on improvisation as much as they will in consistently out-executing opponents (offensive line, I'm looking at you). They were the plays that have been missing the past two seasons, apparently when the offense disappeared when it was needed most, i.e., in two Big 12 championship games. 

Put it this way. We've been told Watson's failure was his inflexible offense. If the play called for a receiver to run a slant, the receiver had to run that slant despite the receiver knowing that the slant wouldn't work because of a defensive adjustment. Beck, the heir-apparent, is supposed to save us from that failure by allowing players to change, for example, their routes, if they see that the defense has adjusted to take those routes away. 

Whether Beck's offense works or not will be discovered this fall when teams keep score and coaches have to come up with answers more solid than "I love the competition", "______ has a word of potential", or "insert your favorite offseason quote in the comments section".

One characteristic about Beck won't be apparent until several games (or maybe seasons) have been played; that trait being risk. How much of a risk-taker will Beck be? Most pundits (and fans alike) would have you believe that he doesn't need much risk - that Nebraska's defense will be good as long as Bo Pelini is around and that the Blackshirts will keep us in every game. That's only partially true. Game situations will always call for some level of risk-taking. 

If it's 3rd-and-three at the 35-yard line against Wisconsin with 1:35 left in the game and Nebraska is behind 27-24, is Beck going to a low risk play (low risk meaning low chance of negative yardage, such as a heavy set and an isolation dive with Rex Burkhead) to give the Huskers a shot at a game-tying field goal, or is he calling a feast or famine play to put the team into position to win, ala, a reverse featuring Jamal Turner

In Cornhusker Kickoff 2011, Chris Brown talks about Pelini's GATA (Get After Their Asses) philosophy - a philosophy that most would say is higher risk than consistently playing Cover Two and Cover Three defenses (yes, I know I'm mixing philosophy with formations, just run with it, and no I can't give you the gist of Brown's entire article as my publisher.. well, there's contracts, you know). 

The key here is this - we've been told repeatedly that Beck and the (Flying) Pelinis Bros. are from Youngstown, Ohio, and that in Youngstown they have a matter-of-fact way of doing things. Wouldn't it be safe to assume that Beck will run his offense with the same philosophy that Pelini runs the defense?