The Monday Morning Quarterback: Missouri

Okay, so the Huskers defense re-appeared in an important win over Missouri. Tip of the cap to Craig Bohl and the defensive assistants – they out-coached AND out-played ol' Mizzou. <BR><BR> All the better. All the great Husker teams have been led by the Blackshirts. Bodes well for the rest of the year. But that offense…

Think ‘Back to the Future.'

Okay, so the Huskers defense re-appeared in an important win over Missouri. Tip of the cap to Craig Bohl and the defensive assistants – they out-coached AND out-played ol' Mizzou.

All the better. All the great Husker teams have been led by the Blackshirts. Bodes well for the rest of the year. But that offense…

Ya, it's getting better I suppose. But I ask you, are you confident about taking that show on the road?

There's still lots and lots…and lots of room for improvement in many areas. Jammal Lord's inability – his zillion yards of total offense against McNeese not withstanding - to fully grasp the offense (most especially when he has to change the play at the line of scrimmage) is going to continue to be a problem when the Huskers face teams of similar physical capability.

Like Oklahoma StateTexas A&M…and…

Everyone and their brother's brother has offered "suggestions" on what needs to happen with the Huskers to fully right the ship. So much so, that Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Bryne felt compelled to go public with a collective "shut up" for Husker fans.

Sorry Bill, but as loyal fans, we not only feel compelled to interject, it's our civic duty.

That being the case, it's time for our input.

So now, we make the case for our theme, ‘Back to the Future."

Admittedly, this would be tough to do this season. It's been attempted in mid-stream by others, but not with much success. Instead, like many of the suggestions offered by fans and media, this change should be made after the season. Unlike others who've tried this same thing, it would not be that radical a change for Nebraska's offense…

…the Wishbone.

Powerful, clock-eating ground game. Mis-direction plays. Heisman Trophy winning running backs. A well-rested defense. Conference and National Championships. It's what the Nebraska program used to be about, right?

Why not in the future?

Stop laughing. I know, you all want a more wide open, sophisticated, modern passing attack added to Nebraska's offensive scheme. Here's the problem with that. With 20 hours of practice time allowed each week of the season, it's virtually impossible for offensive teams to become truly proficient in more than one area. It happens from time to time, but you seldom see great running teams with great passing attacks, and vice versa. That's why when a team like Miami does it, it draws such widespread national attention. Balanced offenses are the exception, not the rule.

On the other hand, teams like the old Oklahoma wishbone teams spent their time working on one thing – the powerful ground game – and did it very very well. They still maintained the ability to hurt you with a single pass play. Call it the element of surprise if you want, but we all saw it work. Too often.

A more modern example is Air Force, a wishbone team that is as productive on the ground as anyone in the nation, and then in a key moment, can kill an opponent with a well-timed pass play. Wise men have often noted that it's not how often you throw it, it's how well. Even though they threw the ball rarely, Barry Switzer's OU teams threw it pretty effectively. So does Air Force.

So why not? How radical a change would it be for Nebraska to go to a wishbone version of the option offense? Tom Osborne toyed with the notion from time to time, when he had more than one standout runner he wanted to get the ball to. NU already has physical runners that can handle the heavy duty blocking duty called for in the ‘bone. They have several talented running backs – none of whom have stood out enough to be the featured back at the top if the "I." Not a single 100-yard rushing game from a I back after seven games? At Nebraska? They've been getting around 80+ yards each from Dahrann Deidrick and David Horne (they've got Thunder Collins, Cory Ross, too). Those are wishbone-kind of rushing stats. Nebraska also has the fullbacks to carry it off.

Lord would benefit from the change. Less to read. Quicker hitting plays. The element of surprise when he decided to throw. Nebraska has big play receivers who know how to block and catch a key pass from time to time. These are all the necessary elements for a productive wishbone attack.

Most coaches say the down side of an offense like the ‘bone is the effect on recruiting. Since pro teams don't run it, a good number of talented prospects could be reluctant to come to Lincoln, fearing their skills would not be showcased for the pro scouts.

On the other hand, several big time running backs would take renewed interest in Nebraska, knowing the ball distribution in the wishbone is excellent. Even David Overstreet got a lot of carries playing next to Heisman winner Billy Simms. So did fullback Kenny King, who then had a nice pro career that included a Super Bowl Championship. Quarterbacks? Lots of high schools still run the option and the wishbone, so there's really no reason why Nebraska couldn't recruit a good number of great prospects. You tell them that they can showcase their physical skills, maybe get a shot at the pros in any number of positions (see, Cromwell, Nolan or Frost, Scott)…or maybe become a U S Senator.

Plus, Nebraska kids will always want to play for the Big Red, even if they go to the single wing.

Colorado Head Coach Gary Barnett – the entire Colorado Athletic Department in fact – has historically avoided playing their in-state neighbor, Air Force. Barnett in fact was asked about it this summer. When will you play Air Force, coach? "When they stop running that crazy offense." Barnett quipped.

No team liked playing those old Sooners – for several obvious reasons. They still hate playing AFA, due only to the one common denominator: That Wishbone offense.

Come on, Frank. Think about it. Everyone else is running some version of the "West Coast Offense" or some spread thing. They all want "diversity." You could be the first to buck the trend, and be that "crazy" offensive team that no one can have enough time to prepare for.

The Wishbone could take Nebraska Football ‘Back to the Future." In more ways than one.

Big Red Report Top Stories