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A Candid Conversation With Nebraska Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck, Part 2

David McGee

This is part two of a long conversation with Tim Beck.

Part one was published on Sunday. Part three will be available Thursday.

Rather than a long, flashy intro, we continue......

CN: As a fan in the stands during the Northwestern game last year, my first thought as they lined up with however many wideouts you put in there, I thought, "How often do Hail Marys work?"  My exact thought, I turned to my wife and said, "Hail Marys never work."  And then it did.  What was going through your mind during the course of that play, from the snap?  What were you thinking about?  What was your state of mind?

TB: I​nteresting enough, we actually had one more play called.  We thought maybe we might have enough chance to get something quick and get a little closer because I wasn't sure Ron could throw it that far.

There was a timeout called, and we came over so when I was talking to Bo, Bo's like, "Listen, this is probably the last one, I think he's gotta heave it."  So I asked Joe Ganz, Joe who was down on the field for me, I was like, "Joe, make sure.  Can he get it there?" and he was like, "He'll give it everything he's got.  He'll get it there."  So, ya know, we lined up.

The biggest thing for me was, "does he have the time?"

Because on those plays, you have to allow the wideouts to get down and get in position so when the ball's snapped, I'm watching the protection. Ameer did an outstanding job. Typically you (the quarterback) drop back, and then you roll out to buy time, but that defensive end went really, really wide, and kept him in the pocket, so when Ronny went back, and then he started to roll out, that end was there and Ameer helped on him and Ronny actually stopped.  He didn't get to the outside, but he bought himself enough time to allow ‘em to get there.

When the ball was thrown, I looked at the positioning.  I thought we had a chance cause I saw Westerkamp behind ‘em because in the play - and we do practice it - the point guy, the main guy, Quincy, he's a jumper.  You just tell him to tip it.  You tell him, "Don't catch it."

That's where a lot of guys make mistakes, and then you tell the other guys "usually defenders try to knock it down", so you tell ‘em to be in a low position, hands down around your knees, expecting the ball to come down on the tip, cause we try to tip it up, but they (the defense) ultimately try to tip it down.

Their guys ran into each other, so Quincy was able to tip it.  And once I saw it tipped I knew Jordan was up I was like, "We got it!  We got it!"  And then he caught it and was able to do it.  So yeah, it was something.  It was a great.  It was an incredible feeling.

CN: It was an incredible feeling to be in that stadium.  I'm getting chills just talking about it right now, and being there, and...  My wife and I looked at each other and used words I'd rather not repeat in the media.

TB: *Laughs* Yeah

CN:  I know nobody heard the official when he said, "After further review..." ‘cause I know they did have to review the play, but that was really incredible.

TB:  Right, right.  Just shows you what a great, heady player Jordan was.  Not only did he catch it, but he stuck the ball back in to the end zone to make sure.  He had it, and when he caught it he was in, but he still stuck the ball back there, so make sure if there was any doubt he was in.  That was an amazing play by him as well.

CN: it was incredible.  It kinda blows my mind every once in awhile that I was there for plays like that that are the kind that kind of stay in Husker lore for ages.  And to have a player like Westerkamp - everybody's going to remember Kenny Bell for the ‘fro, and people like Burkhead and Taylor, and I hope that Westerkamp does other great things, but, as far as his Husker career, that's what people are going to remember him for.  And probably Kellogg as well.

TB:  There was a funny story behind all of that.

Jamal was hurt.  Jamal had gotten hurt; another guy that got hurt.  Jordan was our only slot receiver, so we were using Brandon Riley, and putting Kenny in there during practice that week just because in my mind, I knew that Jordan can't play the whole game ‘cause he's gonna drop.  I think we ran 85 plays against them or something.

So long story short - Those guys weren't normally slot receivers, so I gave them a lot of reps knowing Jordan was going to get worn out Saturday becaus he was gonna play a lot.  Jordan came to me, like, Thursday, before practice, "Coach, did I do something wrong?"  I was like, "What do you mean?"  And he was like, "Well, I haven't been playing much in practice."  I said, "No.  Don't worry.  You're playing."  I said, "I gotta have a backup.  These guys don't know the spot as well as you do.  I'm giving them some reps.  You'll get in there."  "

"Well I just.  I just noticed I didn't get a lot of reps and I thought I did something wrong."  (Coach chuckled as he said this next bit) And then he ends up going and winning the game on a great catch.

It's funny how kids, and what their perception is, sometimes, of what's really going on.  They don't always really know the coach's plans and ideas of how things work.

CN: It's hard because you want to share with the kids what's going on but you don't get the chance, or sometimes it's if I share too much with this kid, then this kid's gonna be hurt.

TB: Right, right.  Well, and the biggest thing is it's hard to get the chance.  The NCAA provides you only four hours a day to practice and watch film and prepare and you've got all these things that you've gotta do so it's hard sometimes to take that extra half hour to say, "Let's talk."  You don't have it.  You know plus classes, and study hall, and tutoring and all the things that these guys have to go through in the course of a day.

If it was our student athletes, if they were employees, they'd be getting paid overtime by Wednesday.  I mean, that's the kind of jobs that they have.  That's the kind of hours they put in. 4-5 hours per day, that's the mandatory aspect of it (the sport) as opposed to school and study halls and workouts and whatever else may be going on in their lives.

The average person works 9-5 in their day.  These guys go to school and practice 9-5 and then study halls and tutors, and study for tests.  You know what I'm getting at, so mentally, as well as physically and emotionally, that's where getting them ready to play each week gets tough.  There's certain times of the year you see tougher games.

Why?  It's finals week. It's break.  They can rest more than others.  Different things just wear, you know they're kids.

CN:  People forget that they're just kids.

TB: Yeah.

CN: You know they're 18, 19, 22 years old. They're just kids.

TB:  Correct.  They have the same issues as their (the fans') kids. Dating issues, money issues, everything.  I mean, it's the same thing on top of being out there playing and trying to do those types of things. They still have the same stuff to go through that people don't realize, and I know the argument, "They're on scholarship" and that's true.

They get books paid for and different things, but it's just weird how all the rules work.  Dinner may be 7-9 only, and the kid may have a tutor from 7-8:30 and has to run over to dinner if he can.  Then he misses it.  Then what?  That was his meal, but he missed his meal. He doesn't eat so he has to go find money so he can eat.

All that stuff kind of works in to running an organization.  What Bo has to do is really hard because the planning of every aspect of their lives from the time they get here till the time they leave from what classes to take for graduation, what time's meetings, what time's this.  There's a lot that goes in to all of that.

CN:  Heck, I wasn't ready for what goes in to running a D2 high school volleyball program.  I had 20 players in my program last year.  I can't imagine a program not only with the size and scope of a D-I football program but with the, kind of, magnifying lens under which Nebraska's program lives.  It's crazy.