Tom Herman has shuffled off to Houston, which will certainly limit the number of times we hear the word “MENSA” on Ohio State broadcasts.
But what else will change under new co-OC Tim Beck?
Unlike Herman, Beck is not expected to have primary play-calling duties. Those will fall to newly promoted Ed Warinner, with Urban Meyer having the final say. Beck will become the team’s new quarterback whisperer, and he’s inherited an embarrassment of riches in Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones and a few younger guys waiting their turn.
Can the Youngstown native develop that all-important position? Let’s take a look at how he’s done since 2011, when Bo Pelini promoted Beck to Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach.
Beck inherited a team that scored 30.9 points per game the previous season with freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez at the helm. Martinez threw for 1,631 yards, averaging 125 per game with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Those Huskers averaged six yards per game and gained 5,574 yards.
In 2011, as Beck got acclimated, those numbers took a slight dip. Nebraska averaged 29.2 points per game and 5.46 yards per play. The Huskers put up 4,939 yards. Martinez, however, averaged 160.7 passing yards per game, although he passed for only 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Nebraska threw for 2,115 yards, a smidge more than 2010. Beck’s high water mark for the season might have been the still-painful-to-think-about, comeback win over Ohio State in Lincoln.
Things got better under Beck in 2012. Martinez posted a career best quarterback rating of 141.61. He also reached career highs in completions (228) and touchdowns (23), and eclipsed his old best for yards in a season by almost 800, finishing with 2,871 on the season. Nebraska’s offense rolled for 6,451 yards (6.2 yards per play) and scored 34.8 points per game. Martinez passed Heisman winner Eric Crouch for most total yards in school history and led the Cornhuskers to the Big Ten Championship Game.
Beck’s offense took a bit of a dive in 2013, owing largely to a messy situation at quarterback when Martinez suffered a foot injury. With a choice between freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. and senior Ron Kellogg III, the best option might have been none of the above.
Still, it wasn’t terrible. Beck’s offense averaged 31.9 points per game, amassed 5,361 total yards (5.57 per play), and its three-headed quarterback monster managed to pass for 2,557 yards and 25 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. Martinez finished with a quarterback rating of 140.03 in his four games. It’s quite probable that if Beck had a healthy Martinez for the full year, his 2013 offense would have posted another year of improvement.
This past season, Beck stuck with Armstrong, a sophomore, at quarterback. Armstrong raised his quarterback rating from 124.31 to 133.03 in 2014. As a team, the Huskers improved by 200 passing yards and by 519 total yards. Nebraska reached a new high in points per game in the Beck era, averaging 37.8. The Cornhuskers averaged 6.22 yards per play and Beck helped develop Ameer Abdullah into a Heisman Trophy candidate.
So what can we learn from all this?
Beck has shown an overall ability to develop his offensive players and improve an offense, on average, from year to year. He has familiarity working with Ed Warinner, as both spent the 2007 season on the same staff at Kansas.
He may not have been the splashy hire that many Ohio State fans wanted, but he seems to be a proven commodity in his time as an offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach.