Nebraska Football: Mistaken Offensive Identity

Josh KleinCorrespondent INovember 3, 2009

COLUMBIA, MO - OCTOBER 08:  Quarterback Zac Lee #5 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers listens to head coach Bo Pelini during the game against the Missouri Tigers on October 8, 2009 at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Every Husker fan has taken part in a specific type of conversation at some point this season. A conversation that becomes more and more intense as a big game against Oklahoma looms.

That conversation: What the heck is wrong with the offense?

As I have surveyed and suffered through the lack-luster displays of offense and the finger pointing after games like Texas Tech and Iowa State, I find myself coming to what I think is a solid conclusion.

It's on the coaches.

Coming into this season the question marks were solely on the offensive side of the ball, but we all thought Watson had it under control. Without Callahan pulling the strings he led an offense that looked markedly better last season, so we as ignorant fans assumed he would do as much this season.

I see much of the blame being placed solely on Watson's head. However, he is not the whole problemthe other coaches need to be held accountable all the same.

To me, it has been the coaches, not the players that have let Nebraska fans down.

It has become apparent to me that Coach Bo Pelini and Coach Shawn Watson have different ideas on how this offense should go. The real problem is that they have two opposing ideas.

Different ideas aren't bad as a coaching staff, it can help mold and form a team for tough situations and it can cultivate creative offensive and defensive schemes. 

Opposing differences however, are almost always bad.

That's what he have on the offensive side of the ball now between head coach and offensive coordinator. 

Bo Pelini wants this Nebraska team to be like Alabama. He wants to pound the rock and pass to keep the opposing team off balance, however, Shawn Watson has a different approachhe wants to pass the ball to open up the running game.

Two completely different frames of mind molding only one offense.

As a result, we have seen an offensive team emerge that is mediocre at everything and specializes in nothing. An offense like that in the Big 12 will only win six, maybe seven games with a great defense.

Why do I say these are their styles? Simply look at the statements the two of them make on separate ground:

Shawn Watson wants to take what the defense gives him, that's okay, if your head coach has that same frame of mind.  Bo Pelini, though, does not.  Bo Pelini wants the offense and defense alike to "impose their will" on the opponent.

That's the problem. Mixed signals. And that is something a team can't learn from.

Look at the defense. Bo and Carl are definitely on the same page with running that unit. Being on the same page equals continuity and understood expectations. That's why the defense is so good this season.

Offensively, last season, Bo gave Shawn the keys to the machine and told him to run it like he did last year.

New players came through and so did the necessity for a new offensive identity, and with that an odd dichotomy between coaches.

Both Pelini and Watson knew that it couldn't be kept the same with the different players coming in, but both had their own idea of the looks of it. Again, not on the same page.

So while everyone else is calling out Shawn Watson, I'm calling out Bo Pelini and Shawn Watson. They need to get together and decide what they are going to be good at. Because right now they are perfecting the art of doing everything poorly and that doesn't win games.

Sure the health of Roy Helu Junior doesn't help, nor does the fact that receivers drop nearly every other ball thrown to them. I firmly believe, though, that this offense doesn't click because it doesn't know what it is.

And that's coaching. It needs to be addressed, fixed, and stuck to. This team has the ability, it needs the preparation and the swagger to get it done.