Offensive coordinator Tim Beck met with the media Tuesday for a brief stint; here are the highlights:
>> Nebraska’s offense had a good day of installation in preparation for Michigan’s defense, which Beck praised as a tough-minded unit that has embraced new defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s scheme.
The Wolverines are 17th nationally in total defense and seventh nationally in scoring defense, a stunning reversal from its 110th and 108th rankings in 2010.
“They’re understanding their system,” Beck said. “(Mattison) has a good system for them there. They’re getting it. How to adjust to things and how to react to things and overcome obstacles that go through the course of the game.”
>> One particular strength of UM’s defense is its red zone stinginess. The Wolverines have the nation’s best unit; opponents have scored just 67 percent of the time they’ve reached Michigan’s 20-yard line. The Huskers’ red-zone offense ranks 8th nationally with a 91 percent conversion rate.
“We’ve been OK,” Beck said. I think there’s some areas we could be better at, but statistically we’re up there pretty high — at least in our conference.”
*One area of potential improvement: a go-to receiver inside the 10-yard line. A guy who can catch a jump ball or be available for a simple fade route. Nebraska last had such a player in 2007, with Maurice Purify. Kyler Reed appeared to be emerging as that player in 2010, but he hasn’t been much of a goal-line target this year.
“We have a bunch of guys — and that’s what makes us good,” Beck said of his designated “red zone” receiver. “Whoever may be. Our tight end. A back. A receiver. Whoever it is. That’s as good as sometimes having one guy.”
>> Quarterback Taylor Martinez continues to grow as a game manager as he gets more comfortable with Beck’s system.
“A lot of little things — and unselfish things,” Beck said. “And I’m proud of him for that. And part of that is just him feeling more comfortable. And we constantly communicate.”
>> After perhaps getting too conservative with his playcalling in other games, Beck said he liked his diverse, formations galore plan to beat Penn State.
“We just kept them off-balance,” Beck said. “We were attacking. We were trying to take advantage of the things they showed to be weak at. Sometimes — in order to attack a team and take advantage of a team’s weaknesses — you maybe have to do things that are unconventional.”