Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Good, Bad and Unexpected: Nebraska Versus Indiana

October 02, 2022

With a little time to have now absorbed what we saw in Nebraska’s 35-21 win over Indiana, it’s time to review. Here is the good, the bad and the unexpected from the Huskers’ second win of the season.

The Good

Anthony Grant: Talk about another strong performance from running back Anthony Grant. With his 32 carries for 136 yards, the win over Indiana is now Grant’s fourth 100-yard rushing effort in five games this season. His only game without 100 yards was against Oklahoma, and that’s looking more and more like a fluke.

Grant’s 32 carries were a career high for the junior, and he’s the first to have 30 carries in a game since Tre Bryant’s 31 against Arkansas State on Sept. 2, 2017. He is also the first Husker to have four 100-yard rushing games in a season since Devine Ozigbo’s five in 2018.

Also, enjoy this:

Trey Palmer: Wide receiver Trey Palmer caught eight passes for a career-high 157 yards against Indiana. That included a 71-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

What did Palmer make of the moment and those deep passes from quarterback Casey Thompson?

“I do that practice, so it wasn’t too big or anything,” he said. “I just got my number called and I made the play.”

And so he did.

Defense: Nebraska’s defense had quite the challenge ahead of it following the bye week. The Huskers were under the direction of a new defensive coordinator after Bill Busch was elevated to the position following the firing of Erik Chinander. That meant some changes were to be expected.

And apparently change was what the Blackshirts needed. Nebraska held Indiana to a season-low 290 total yards and only two successful third-down conversions out of 15 tries.

Individual performances weren’t bad either. Edge rusher Garrett Nelson—who made his 25th consecutive start on Saturday—had a career-high two sacks against Indiana.

“Baller,” he said post game about it. The two sacks better his previous best of 1.5 sacks, which he set at Purdue in 2020.

Linebacker Luke Reimer, on the other hand, finished the game with five tackles. That increased his career tackle total to 203. He also had a third-quarter interception, which marked his second career interception. He also had a career-high two pass breakups.

Some will point toward the fact that Indiana was without two of its top receivers—Cam Camper and DJ Mathews Jr.—who had combined for 50 catches and over 600 yards so far in 2022. That’s a valid point, especially as tougher offenses loom on Nebraska’s schedule.

For now, there were positives to take for the defense in the win over Indiana. Now it’s on the defense to build on the positives and make something of it going forward. Indiana was a start.

If you want more on the defense though, Brady Oltmans broke it down further.

The Bad

Penalties: Where do you begin on this one? Nebraska had to overcome 111 yards on 12 penalties in its win over Indiana.

For reference, Nebraska has never had more than 12 penalties in a game while a member of the Big Ten. The Huskers had 16 in 2010 against Texas A&M while members of the Big 12 Conference.

Five of Nebraska’s 12 penalties on Saturday came in the first quarter. In fact, the Huskers had nine penalties for 85 yards by the time halftime rolled around. And while the officials had some questionable calls here and there—there were intentional grounding calls that left some scratching their heads—it wasn’t entirely on the officials.

For example, Turner Corcoran was flagged on back-to-back plays in the second quarter. Both were personal conduct penalties, with the first being an unnecessary roughness call (although that was was questionable) and the second an alleged punch at an Indiana player already on the ground. Corcoran was ejected from the game after the second.

“I have to do a better job with this team,” interim head coach Mickey Joseph said post-game. “We have officials at practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. So I’m probably going to have the officials at practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I have to do a better job. I have to do a better job and get them to play controlled. I said that the non-moving penalties irritate me. There were a couple pass interference calls and I thought one of the balls wasn’t catchable. But they had him locked up, they had him covered. You just had to move your feet.

“There’s things that we can clean up and we’ll go back and look at it, and then it can get better. But if you’re going to be an aggressive football team, you’re going to have some of those penalties. We have to go back and look at it because we don’t condone that, and we’ll get better.”

With that said, Joseph said the Huskers will review the penalties—including Corcoran’s “punch”—and will turn anything in that the coaching staff feels was incorrectly called.

The Unexpected

Blocked punt: Joseph said he wanted someone to step up on special teams, especially on punt returns. No, seriously. He did.

“We got to hold up on the outside. We have to force the return,” Joseph said on the Monday ahead of the Indiana matchup. “We are looking for someone on special teams to make a big play this week. We need one of them to make a big play and we challenged them with that.”

Credit linebacker Chris Kolarevic for doing just that in the second quarter. He was the one to block Indiana’s punt, which allowed true freshman cornerback Malcom Hartzog the opportunity for a scoop and score.

Here’s what made the blocked punt so unexpected, per Nebraska’s post-game notes:

  • It was the Huskers’ first blocked punt return for a touchdown since Justin Blatchford’s 25-yard return of a blocked punt for a touchdown at Baylor on Oct. 31, 2009.
  • It was Nebraska’s first special teams touchdown of any kind since JD Spielman had a 76-yard punt return touchdown against South Alabama on Aug. 31, 2019.

Of course, it wasn’t Nebraska’s first blocked punt of the season. That honor goes to Javin Wright against North Dakota. Still, it was a pretty impressive thing to see, especially after Joseph seemingly willed it to life just days before.

And a Bonus

This video of athletic director Trev Alberts awarding Joseph the game ball in the locker room is worth a watch.

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