I struggled to think of what to write about with my first real posting since my reentry into blogging. However, after thinking about it for all of about 10 seconds, I realized that the thing I am most curious and excited about this upcoming season is what offensive wrinkles Shawn Watson will be implementing in the Husker game plan.
The point most often brought up by Husker doubters this off-season has been the loss of Joe Ganz and the fact that Zac Lee only has 3 more pass attempts in actual games than I do. The thing is, (and this may just be the sunshine coming out of summer and camp chatter) I really do believe the hype. I think that Zac Lee is going to come out and surprise some people, not only with his running ability, but with his (according to reports) 70-yard arm. I seriously have daydreams of seeing Lee in the shotgun, Quentin Castille at his side, Marcus Mendoza and Roy Helu at the slots, and Meno Holt and Niles Paul on the outside. Or maybe you have Helu in the backfield and put Mike McNeill as an H-back? There is a bevy of options when you have a bevy of athletes, especially when you have the football acumen that Watson has.
Some things I wouldn't be suprised to see:
1) More elements of the spread-option game. I know we saw a little bit of this last year, but I think with Lee's speed and Mendoza's move to receiver full-time, I think this element could be utilized to higher degree this year. That's part of why the above paragraph mentioned putting Helu in the slot. When you have two beast tailbacks, why not get them both on the field. Imagine a play where we can bring Helu in motion to the right, snap the ball and fake the zone read to Castille going left, and then have Zac and Roy in perfect option relationship with Mendoza coming inside from the other slot for a potential shovel pass. How do you defend against that? Is it even possible? The one factor that makes this option less attractive is protecting Lee's health, given the lack of proven depth behind him.
2) As Sam McKewon mentioned in this article, with McNeill being such a versatile weapon (as well as having developing players like Kyler Reed and Ben Cotton behind him), the potential is there to go no-huddle, making our offense even more hard to defend. Ideally we pummel Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State with our ground game and save the no-huddle for Virginia Tech. Though now that I think about it, breaking out an unproven offensive system that relies heavily on on-field calls in Lane Stadium probably doesn't sit too well with the coaching staff.
3) The deep ball. We gotta have it. I keep hearing about this blazing speed we have, Lee's cannon arm, and all the bombs they'd been completing this summer in workouts. Then again, hitting them in 7-on-7 in front of 20 teammates and a bit easier than doing it in front of 85,000. That said, I'm not going to let it temper my enthusiasm for the potential of Niles sprinting under a gorgeous 60 yard play-action pass from Zac against Oklahoma in prime time. In addition to how exciting the plays are themselves, they serve another purpose in the recruiting area. Kids want to play at places where they go for the big play. Big plays make in on SportsCenter, and they get people talking about us more than they otherwise would. Obviously, our dink-and-dunk offense is great because it keeps opposing offenses off the field, an especially valuable factor with the video-game offenses the Big 12 has. But you can't put a price on seeing a gorgeous go route completed just like it's drawn up.
*Photo courtesy of Huskers.com