What. A. Game. The Huskers didn't always look the greatest, but Nebraska stays undefeated and moves to 6-0 for the first time since the 2001 season. Here are some takeaways from today's 27-22 victory over Indiana:
The Huskers offense looked as bad as it has all season. Despite a few circus catches from Brandon Reilly and Stanley Morgan, Nebraska struggled to move the ball the whole game. A lot of that is attributable to injuries. Nebraska was without tight end Cethan Carter and wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp, two major offensive weapons. Devine Ozigbo was also questionable heading into the game and finished the game with just one carry.
Nebraska's offensive line also took a big hit early in the game after losing right tackle David Knevel to an apparent knee injury. Sophomore Cole Conrad came in to replace Knevel. Center Dylan Utter sat out a series or two with an injury, but later returned to the game. Riley said after the game that Nick Gates is hobbled as well, dealing with an ankle injury.
The unit struggled until late in the fourth quarter when it needed to step up most, opening up lanes for Terrell Newby to run through to close the game.
Right now, the offensive line is the unit with the most question marks. For a team that relies heavily on controlling the tempo with its run-game, this could cause major issues for Nebraska heading into the meat of its schedule.
Tommy Armstrong looked hurt today. He made decisions similar to those he made in 2015. Langsdorf seemed hesitant to call quarterback runs, and one has to wonder whether the ankle injury which had Armstrong in a walking boot during the bye week had anything to do with it.
Either way, the motto for Nebraska's season stays the same: the Huskers go as far as Tommy will take them.
The Blackshirts looked as good as I've seen a Nebraska defensive unit look in years. Nate Gerry was flying around the field like a man possessed, finishing the game with eight tackles.
Nebraska held the Indiana offense to just 88-yards on the ground. The blitz packages drawn up by Mark Banker kept Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow on edge all game.
The one series Banker decided not to blitz, Lagow led his team down the field on a 75-yard touchdown drive in under two minutes. Those blitzes were the difference today.
Nebraska's secondary was locking up the Indiana receivers all afternoon despite being on the field for long stretches at a time. The Huskers now have 11 interceptions through their first six games.
Aside from the blocked punt which resulted in a safety (I'll keep the Bruce Read jokes to myself), the Huskers looked fine on Special Teams. Punter Caleb Lightbourn has done a great job stepping in for Sam Foltz. De'mornay Pierson-El is finally looking like he isn't scared to field punts. If the coverage team can make some room, Pierson-El might return to X-Factor status in upcoming games.
Riley has guts. He has played to win all season and continued to do so in the matchup with Indiana. With just under four minutes left in the game, the Huskers faced a fourth and one with a two point lead at Indiana's 48 yard line. Riley elected to go for it, and it paid off as Armstrong picked it up with a quarterback sneak.
The Huskers have converted on six of their nine fourth down conversions this season, many of which came in pivotal moments in the game. Riley trusts his team, he trusts his defense, and it's a big reason why the Huskers are still unbeaten.
Up next, the Huskers return home to avenge their loss to Purdue next Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
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