When Bo Pelini took over at Nebraska, he fired most of the staff except for wide receiver coach Ted Gilmore and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.
In 2008, the offense was the strength for Nebraska and Watson had talked to several programs about becoming a head coach. In 2009, the offense was the only thing holding the team back from greatness, as Nebraska fielded one of the best defenses in the country but an offense that ranked near the bottom in the FBS.
2010 brought promise until key injuries to the offense crippled Nebraska. Bo made the decision in the offseason to "let go" of Shawn Watson and promote running backs coach Tim Beck to offensive coordinator.
Let's review that decision by looking at the past two years for Nebraska offensively.
Passing: 2108 yards 16 touchdowns 8 interceptions
Rushing: 3466 yards 32 touchdowns Fumbles 33 lost 14
Total yardage: 5574 Total turnovers 22
Passing: 2115 yards 13 touchdowns 8 interceptions
Rushing: 2824 yards 31 touchdowns Fumbles 23 lost 7
Total yardage: 4939 Total turnovers 15
Note that the turnovers only count the offense's fumbles and not special teams. If you must know, Nebraska fumbled six times on special teams.
In 2010, Nebraska had a great year on offense as Watson reorganized his offense to fit the personnel that was coming to the team—and to get his head off the chopping block. The offense was now run first, pass second, and it worked really well for most of the season.
Until teams loaded the box and injuries piled up again.
Martinez was out for two games and during that time Green did a bad job managing the team. Once again coming so close to winning the Big 12 title and then the depressing finish in the bowl game led Pelini to promote Tim Beck to offensive coordinator.
2011 showed that the strength for Nebraska was the offense, as the defense was racked by injuries (Nebraska can't catch a break, can they?). The offense was once again focused on the run, but unlike 2010 with Martinez needing to be a game-changer, he became a game-manager. Injuries to the offensive line led to the lineup being changed often, and at one point in time, Nebraska would rotate the entire line every so often in the game.
Under Tim Beck, Nebraska dropped in production from 2010, but to be fair, if Nebraska had 2010's defense, they would have done a lot better this season.
Beck introduced some new formations, like the diamond, and shifted from the shotgun being the base formation to the pistol. He also started to use the fullback, which made all the people who remember Nebraska using a fullback happy.
The biggest change that Beck made was that he switched Taylor Martinez from a game-changer to a game-manager. No longer was he being subjected to numerous hits that caused fumbles, and he was able to change plays at the line to beat the defense.
Martinez not only improved in passing yardage, but he also reduced how often he turned the ball over.
Beck's biggest mistakes this season came from not using the talent he had. There were games where 5-star running back Aaron Green never saw the field and 4-star wide receiver Jamal Turner never saw the field again after a certain point.
Part of a coordinator's job is to win—why wouldn't you play two of your best players. I know he played Abdullah but Abdullah fumbles a lot, and until he fixes that, he shouldn't be relied on as the No. 2 back.
Nebraska had a great offense during the first part of the season, but once again stuttered towards the end. Why? Nebraska is too one-dimensional. Nebraska is a run first, run second, oh it's 3rd-and-long now? I guess we should pass—too bad the other team had their dime package out. Good luck, receivers!
I like Martinez, but that doesn't mean I think he is the best passer. To be honest, if one of the other QBs are developing as a better thrower, they should play. Nebraska can't afford to be one-dimensional; not in this day and age. We have talented receivers like Bell, Enunwa and Turner, and incoming recruit Westerkamp, we need to use them.
Beck promised an Oregon-style offense, let's start seeing it.
Overall, Beck had a good year with some mistakes. Like the Wisconsin game, where he decided to air it out instead of running, even after Martinez's third pick. I liked Beck's hire as he is a good recruiter and seems to know what he is doing and what he wants. In an interview, recruit Jordan Westerkamp said that last year's offense is not what Beck has envisioned, and Beck's vision involves more passing.
We will have to wait and see, but if Beck delivers on his promises, the future for Nebraska's offense looks bright.