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The identity that modern-day Nebraska football doesn’t need

nebraska football mikale wilbon

Have you ever said or heard a word so many times that it lost all meaning? Nebraska football fans are likely very familiar with the phenomenon known as semantic satiation.

There are a few words that get close to this level of repetition when discussing Big Red football, but one stands out the most over the past decade.


Just reading it is annoying at this point, isn’t it? The question is asked every offseason, heck sometimes even during the regular season. It’s always about the offense, too. A defense has a set base, so it’s referred to as the 4-3, the 3-4, the 4-2-5, whatever you wish.

For some reason, this concept that Nebraska needs a concrete “identity” seems meaningless.

Here’s an example.

Nebraska’s looking to feature an offense that utilizes both the running and passing games. Keeping the number of passes in any given game at around 30-35 maximum would be ideal and being able to manufacture rushing yardage is mandatory.

Running backs and wide receivers will gain rushing yards. They’ll also have receiving yards. Tight ends will block and catch. The offensive line will run block and pass block.

What is that called? If Nebraska wins, do you really care as a fan? It’s not like every fan can settle on what they’re seeing anyway.

For Run The Ball Guy®, passing is for the weak and anything besides handing off to the running back or fullback up the gut isn’t real football. For some fans who embrace passing, the offensive coordinator must channel his inner 14-year-old run a Hail Mary every play. Taking advantage of shorter routes to set up the long ball is “dink-and-dunk basketball on grass”.

Sure, the Huskers were known for power football in the ’80s and ’90s, but much like the evolution of football defense, things change and you’re forced to adapt if you want to win. As a result, you have whatever Alabama runs which is…what? The Show up and Mow the Defense Over Because of Five-Star Recruits Strategy?

Why is it so necessary to brand Nebraska football’s offense?

Here’s what we know: Excellent quarterbacks want to run it, elite skill players want to be a part of it and quality offensive linemen want to block for it. Call it some name that you’d find out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory if it gets the job done.

“Identity” is lame. It’s meaningless. It’s worn out its welcome.

Complain all you like, at least Tanner Lee can throw touchdowns.

A member of the Football Writers Association of America, Brandon has spent over a decade reporting on and researching college football, both the sport itself and recruiting.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mark

    05/05/2017 at 3:50 pm

    Great article. I think a solid passing attach helps the run game and visa versa. I hopeful with Lee/O’Brien that our completion % will be closer to 65%. At that level, teams would not be able to load the box against the run and give our OL and backs a fighting chance to open / exploit some holes.

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