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June 11, 2013

Ranking the Big Ten: Offensive coordinators

As Nebraska moves into its third season in the Big Ten Conference, HuskerOnline.com will get you ready with ranking analysis pieces breaking down each position in the league. Today, we look at the top offensive coordinators in the Big Ten heading into 2013.

1. Tim Beck, Nebraska
Just two years into his term as offensive coordinator, Tim Beck has established himself as one of the conference's brightest offensive minds. Using a multiple offense that mixes the zone read, a spread passing attack and a strong under-center game, Nebraska led the conference in yards per game (460.8) and was second in scoring (34.8). Beck implemented a hurry-up offense that typically had defenses gasping by the second half. The Huskers' offense still turns the ball over far too often, but if they can limit their giveaways, NU could have one of the nation's better offenses in 2013.
2. Al Borges, Michigan
It didn't take Al Borges long to develop a strong attack under Denard Robinson, but perhaps his finest work came when the senior went down with a midseason injury. Borges rebuilt the offense around the strengths of new quarterback Devin Gardner, a capable runner but a player who possessed a much better arm than Robinson. The switch didn't seem to bother the Wolverines as they averaged 32.8 points per game with Gardner under center. Now Borges must prove he can keep that up over the course of an entire season, but that shouldn't be a huge problem with the talent Michigan returns.
3. Mick McCall, Northwestern
It wasn't long ago that the Wildcats were one of the league's doormats, but coach Pat Fitzgerald has turned Northwestern around with the help of offensive mind Mick McCall. The Wildcats averaged 31.7 points per game last year, third best in the Big Ten, and had eight games of 28 points or more. McCall rotated quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian to also utilize Colter's ability as a runner and a receiver. But did McCall get too cute with his rotations? Colter posted a better completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception percentage in 2012 and caught just 16 passes.
4. Tom Herman and Ed Warinner, Ohio State
Ohio State averaged more points per game (37.2) than any other Big Ten squad and finished third in yards per game (423.8). They will feature one of the nation's best quarterbacks in Braxton Miller and possibly the conference's best running back in Carlos Hyde. So why isn't the OSU duo higher? For one, Tom Herman and Ed Warinner co-coordinators, which eases the responsibility for each. And let's be honest - head coach Urban Meyer is as big a reason for the Buckeyes' prodigious offense as anyone. No offense to Herman and Warriner, but his influence absolutely helps them out.
5. Kevin Johns and Seth Littrell, Indiana
Here we find our second set of co-coordinators and their inclusion on this list might come as a surprise. But guess who led the conference in passing yards (311.2) and finished second in total yards (442) and fourth in scoring (30.8)? Kevin Johns and Seth Littrell built their offense around a strong passing attack and while a leaky defense submarined Indiana's season, the offense gives the team a glimmer of hope in 2013. Wisconsin's new offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig was in contention for this spot but must prove he can adjust to his new conference's style.

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