It's the Nebraska Offense

The defense is the side of the ball that needs the most help, at least, according to the statistics last season. But the offense wasn't perfect. While they put up a lot of points and totaled a lot of yards, there are still some things to work out; like just what you do to replace starting receivers, a starting center and what will this offense look like now with Shawn Watson calling all the shots?

When you finish the season as an offense ranked in the top 10, the passing side of things ranked seventh overall, you wouldn't think there would be a lot to fix. Well, that would be right, but this year it's offensive coordinator Shawn Watson's show and this will be his version of the West Coast.

Don't call it the West Coast, though. In fact, don't try to put any special label on it meant to in one word or two, give you some melodramatic idea of the proficiency of this offense or its origins. The O.C. prefers something a little different. "It's the Nebraska offense. Quit trying to name it. Geez, everyone wants to put a name on it around here. It's the Nebraska offense," he said.

OK, now that we have determined that Nebraska is running the Nebraska offense, what exactly does that mean?

Well, you'd probably have to be a coach to truly understand every aspect of that, but for Watson there really isn't any one thing it is, because it isn't as much about the system as it is about how the system works with the players at hand. "When we tweak (the offense) it will be based on our people. That is what I believe in and it will be getting those guys touches in creative ways," Watson said.

When looking at what he has to work with on the offense, compared to the defense Nebraska's O.C. has an embarrassment of riches. Almost the entire offensive line is back as well as the running backs and even most of the not-often-used fullbacks are back for another year. There is some concern, though, at wide receiver, because while returning starters such as seniors Nathan Swift and Todd Peterson, there are a lot of faces which haven't been seen much or not at all.

Of that group Watson said he is encouraged. "I like what I have seen in Curenski Gilleylen and Niles Paul. They are what we thought when we recruit them," he said. "They have really shown in the first two days.

"Will Henry had a really good day his first day. He got a little nicked up (and) we are being smart with him today, and he'll be back out here quick tomorrow. He's flashed, but guys like Nate Swift and Todd Peterson, they continue to be steady players. I'm really encouraged, especially with our young guys."

Watson's luxury, of course, is that unlike the situation with the defensive players, who will be learning a whole new system, Watson is simply refining some of what they know, and as he indicated, catering it to the personnel. But he's obviously glad not to be going back to scratch. "We've had a lot of good retention which helps. You can see it in our play," he said. "But we've got to hone up all the details, because the details are what makes everything really happen in a big way during the season.

"So, we still have enough young players at different places that they have to hone in those little things, those small things that make the big things happen."

Nebraska will continue their Spring-progression Saturday morning, and then following the morning practice, Nebraska will hold its Youth Experience, which is expected to field up to 500 kids from around the state and region.

Missing Friday's practice were senior running back Kenny Wilson, who was said to be limited over the course of Spring due to on-going rehab of an injury in 2007. Junior safety Rickey Thenarse was also not in practice today, for what we believe to be personal reasons, but no official reason was given as to his absence. Sophomore Will Henry did practice some, but was limited due to the "nick" coach Watson referred to above. And sophomore cornerback Ryan Ford also did not practice today.

Make sure to check out all the audio as we have the full audio of Shawn Watson following Friday's practice, along with junior wide receiver Menelik Holt talking about his year this up-coming season, what he expects and what he learned from those he is expected to replace. Check all that out and more in our latest coverage as we keep you up-to-date on the Huskers.

Big Red Report Top Stories