Photo Credit: John S. Peterson/Hail Varsity
When it comes to Nebraska football, it doesn't matter which quarterback is leading the offense. Instead, success lives and dies with offensive coordinator Tim Beck.
By this point in the season, Beck has had his ups and his downs. There have been well-called games and poorly-called games.
Illinois was one of the well-executed game plans.
Despite the successful effort, many questioned Beck's use of his two backup quarterbacks. Redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong started for Nebraska, while senior Ron Kellogg III made a few appearances.
The Lincoln Journal Star's Steve Sipple asked Beck for his thought-process following Saturday's victory.
They have different skill-sets and they bring a different demeanor into the huddle at times. We're going to need both of them. Even when Taylor [Martinez] gets back, we're still going to need those guys, so they have to play. I was hoping to play Ronnie (Saturday) maybe a little bit more ...
Sipple went on to ask Beck if he believed that would throw off the offense's rhythm.
Not really. Not with those guys. They're so used to how we practice. They're in for a little. They're out for a little. To them, it's just another day at the office.
That's the key. It really doesn't matter who is playing quarterback.
If Beck executes his game plan and makes adjustments properly, any of Nebraska's quarterbacks should be able to make it work.
In his time as offensive coordinator, Beck has gotten the recruiting aspect handled. From there, Beck has created a track record that proves he can successfully manage the players he has.
With that said, the pressure for success falls heaviest on Beck's shoulders.
Against Illinois, Martinez was out once again due to turf toe. With Armstrong the confirmed starter, Beck needed to focus on the ground. By running the ball (Nebraska boasted 50 rushing plays to only 20 passing plays), that is exactly what was executed.
Within that, Beck also played to the talent of the quarterback on the field.
Over the last couple of seasons, many have questioned when Beck decided to run the option. Martinez doesn't run the option well, after all. Martinez is a dynamic runner though.
Armstrong, on the other hand, is an average runner. However, he's got a knack for running the option.
Beck's game plan finally played to the abilities of his starting quarterback against Illinois. He also adjusted accordingly as the game progressed.
Against UCLA, Beck's first half of play calling was just what Nebraska needed. From there, adjustments were not made and the game fell a part.
Martinez could not have saved the UCLA game on his own. He was dependent on the bigger picture. That's not to say Martinez didn't have his own errors, but it's important to remember that he wasn't the one in the booth making the calls.
By the time Illinois rolled into town, the Huskers had a lot to prove. By the end, Pelini was left praising the overall strategy.
"I thought the game plan and the running game were good," Pelini said in his post game press conference, courtesy of Huskers.com.
It was good, too. Armstrong was decent on his own, but the plan he was handed allowed him to shine. It also allowed I-Back Ameer Abdullah to produce a record day on the ground.
Going forward, Beck will need to replicate the successful day he had against Illinois. To beat teams like Michigan, a smart game plan is a necessity.
Beyond that, Beck must adjust to the strengths and weaknesses of the quarterback on the field, no matter who it is.
And who will that player be exactly? It doesn't really matter, according to the offensive coordinator.
"I coach whoever is out there," Beck told the Lincoln Journal Star.
That's the right approach, too.
After all, the success really lives and dies by Beck's call.