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2009 Dec 20

Bo Lays Out 'Physical' Offensive Identity

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By HuskerLocker

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Bo Pelini is happy to talk shop at length on two topics: The "process" and evolution of his defense.

On matters offensive, even with production that recalls the opening scenes of "The Road," Nebraska's head coach tends to morph into a reasonably inartful dodger, using buzz words and catchphrases to dance around just how NU evolves into a championship-contending offense.

On Saturday, before you sopped up that egg yolk with a corner of toast, Pelini offered his most revealing comments to date. It signaled his ownership of that side of the ball, and a shift - the extent isn't yet clear - from the spread/West Coast principles established midway through last year.

Run/pass balance? Sure, Pelini said.

"I want to be 50/50," he said.

But how NU goes about running the ball in the future - at least from Pelini's perspective - is more like what Cornhusker fans have seen in the last six games - and less like the back-to-the-future look offensive coordinator Shawn Watson seems to have preferred in recent conversations.

"I know in this football program, I want to be able to run a physical football team and I want to be able to run the football," Pelini said as Nebraska's team dispersed for its holiday break until Dec. 24. "Believe me, I understand the need to throw the ball. I mean, everybody has to be able to throw the football. But that's the No. 1 priority going forward. We're going to have a way - we're going to be committed to - running the football when we want to. To me that's the key to a good football team."

And so - if you need a thesis statement on Nebraska's identity to tack up on the basement wall - there you go.

How NU plans on establishing that running presence, Pelini wasn't as specific. At end of the 2009 season, preparing for a Holiday bowl game in which little is likely to change in terms of scheme, may not be the time to unveil it anyway.

But Pelini did add this nugget: "Are we going to be limited to running the zone read going forward? No. I promise you that. It ain't gonna be limited to that."

Watson is fully on board, Pelini said.

"We've been on the same page and we always will be on the same page, because we communicate real well," Pelini said. "And I have a tremendous amount of confidence in him. I like the direction of where we're headed."

Prior to the Big 12 Championship game, Watson said he wanted the offense to return to its roots in 2008, when quarterback Joe Ganz threw the ball 30-40 times per game and most running plays were executed out of a shotgun spread formation. That was the case early in 2009, as well - until the final drive of the Missouri game, when Nebraska unveiled a quadruple-tight formation.

In games vs. the Tigers, Kansas and Colorado, NU scored crucial fourth-quarter touchdowns using super-heavy sets and blocking fullbacks.

What do think of the West Coast Offense? Talk about it here!

Tags: bo pelini, shawn watson

Comments (2)

Profile image for jp01
jp01

Smaller faster defenses in the Big 12 are ripe to be exposed by an aggressive nasty offensive line in a power scheme. As we recruit this type of player and develop depth, we will see us be the most physical team in the Big 12 again. Size, strength, athletic, superior conditioning and a nasty attitude among our linemen going forward will get the offense back to our style of football. It will mirror our defense mindset, won't be stylish, punishing and brutal works for me. Most teams cannot handle this style of play for 60 minutes and don't have the depth and personnel to match up to a persistent physical style of play. Dominating the play clock and shortening games takes away the amount of possessions for our opponents, making the other team play to your tempo is always a big advantage. Our red zone scoring % will make a dramatic increase as well. We have the spread concept figured out on defense, it will make other teams adjust to our style of play on offense for a change. I hate the zone read, line it up and bust some coconuts! Let the other teams cut, paste & copy the spread teams concepts and try to recruit the same athletes.

– Dec 22, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Profile image for paulwenke
paulwenke

I think his offense will be just like his defense; aggressive, physical and oportunistic. His defense will give the offense plenty of opportunities to wear down opposing denfenses. I see a return to Osborne type of dominaing O-lines -- maybe even the option. It's a proven formula. I hope he can pull it off.

– Dec 20, 2009 at 9:26 pm

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