3 things we liked and didn't like in Nebraska's win over Indiana
It was far from a work of art. But Nebraska didn’t complain.
Wins have been few and far between for the Cornhuskers. They needed a shot in the arm. They got it with a 35-21 win over Indiana Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
Could it be the jolt Nebraska so desperately needed to turn things around? That remains to be seen. But the Huskers looked like a different unit Saturday. New defensive coordinator Bill Busch had the troops playing fast and confident. Man coverage. More pressure on the quarterback. It’s a viable start.
Here are 3 things we liked and 3 we disliked about the Cornhuskers’ win:
3 to like …
Progress on defense
The defense took a major step in the right direction. There was pressure on the QB and tight coverage in the secondary. The tackling — atrocious through 4 games — was much improved.
Hoosiers quarterback Connor Bazelak never got comfortable. He completed just 50% of his throws and was picked off once. Indiana converted just 2 of 15 3rd downs. It’s the best Nebraska’s looked against the pass all year.
Garrett Nelson recorded 2 sacks and Ty Robinson 1. The Blackshirts had 6 QB hurries. It was obvious Busch’s emphasis on pressuring the passer is paying off.
Nebraska also recorded 6 tackles for loss, the most they’ve had all season. Four players tallied 5 tackles. It was a collective effort.
Casey Thompson threw for 270 yards and 2 TDs. But his most important attribute shown was his toughness.
Thompson took several hard hits. He was knocked to the turf by Indiana’s Dasan McCullough in the 3rd quarter and looked like he was done.
He returned on the 2nd play of Nebraska’s next drive. Not long after that he chucked a beauty of a deep ball. A 71-yard TD strike to Trey Palmer gave Nebraska a 28-21 early in the 4th. He also scored NU’s final touchdown on a 1-yard run.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 2, 2022
Thompson didn’t always make the right read. He took a tongue lashing from offensive coordinator Mark Whipple after an early pick.
He spread the ball around to 8 receivers. Kept getting off the mat. Never quit. His resilience and toughness helped land Mickey Joseph his 1st win as interim coach.
For Nebraska to keep improving, Thompson’s toughness will need to continue.
Palmer’s big night
LSU transfer Trey Palmer showed out under the bright lights. His 71-yard TD reception was the highlight. But he hauled in 7 other passes and tallied 157 yards receiving. He’s clearly establishing himself as Thompson’s go-to target.
Palmer has 36 catches through 5 games. He’s found the end zone in back-to-back games. Whipple is using a variety of methods to get him open. Putting him in motion, slot, underneath and deep.
At this pace Palmer would break Nebraska’s single-season record for receptions.
Trey Palmer finished with 8 catches for 157 yards & 1 TD. He has 36 catches for 474 yards thru 5 games.
Palmer is on pace to break the #Huskers single-season record for receptions (75 catches by Marlon Lucky in ‘07) and receiving yards (1,004 yards by Stanley Morgan Jr. in ‘18)
— Zack Carpenter (@Zack_Carp) October 2, 2022
3 dislikes …
Offensive line issues
Nebraska still finds itself missing too many assignments up front. Thompson was under duress too often and took too many hits. It’s not sustainable moving forward.
Oklahoma State transfer Hunter Anthony saw more action at right tackle. He’s likely needed more moving forward.
Indiana recorded 4 sacks. They dropped Chubba Purdy in the end zone and recovered for a touchdown. Nebraska was fortunate to overcome it. Future opponents will make them pay.
Anthony Grant ran for 136 yards on 32 carries. He had some holes to hit, but several times had to create room on his own.
Stunts and blitzes are causing too much confusion. Offensive line coach Donovan Raiola continues to have his work cut out for him. Small improvements, week-by-week, have to happen for Nebraska to keep tallying wins.
There was laundry on the field all night. The teams combined to commit 23 penalties. At times it was down-right sloppy.
The Huskers’ 12 penalties for 111 yards was a season high. Offensive lineman Turner Corcoran was ejected for throwing a punch. Discipline is still lacking.
Nebraska starting left tackle Turner Corcoran is ejected for allegedly throwing a punch. Mickey Joseph is the first to approach Corcoran as he leaves the field.#Huskers @1011_News pic.twitter.com/MBdmlW67te
— Kevin Sjuts (@kevinsjuts) October 2, 2022
Saturday’s game lacked flow from all the hankies. Both teams were at fault. But Nebraska must find ways to clean up its play. Too often silly penalties are thwarting drives. They overcame it vs. the Hoosiers. It will cost them in the future.
Too much inconsistency
There’s no question Nebraska took a step in the right direction Saturday. Consistency has been a problem all year, and at times it reared its ugly head against the Hoosiers.
Nebraska’s looked great to start games. They marched 72 yards for an opening-drive TD Saturday.
But they’ve also sputtered following those touchdown drives. The 4 drives after their opening TD ended with 3 punts and a fumble. Their 3rd quarter consisted of 3 punts and an interception.
Whipple’s offense has to develop more rhythm and consistency. It starts with better offensive line play. Until that changes, the hot-and-cold streaks will likely continue.
But for a night, all the bad vibes and negativity of a 1-3 start were forgotten. Joseph bagged his 1st win. Memorial Stadium was jubilant.
Hope springs eternal in Lincoln. Can a win over a conference foe turn the tide?
Time will tell. And with a quick turnaround and upcoming Friday game at Rutgers, we won’t have to wait long for answers.