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Halftime Reaction: Indiana at Nebraska

LINCOLN — Here we are in Nebraska, where the Hoosiers are looking to become bowl eligible by earning win No. 6 against the Cornhuskers. At the half, The Hoosiers trail the Huskers 21-16.

Here are the takeaways:

The defense has to play each drive with more aggression

Yes, the fumble recovery is a great stat to add to the first half total, but other than that, the defense has given up too much to a backup quarterback and the backup’s backup for the Huskers. Nebraska had an extremely hot start to the day accumulating 140-plus yards, two touchdowns, all in less than 12 plays. In total, Nebraska totaled 313 yards of total offense. Not great for Indiana

In order to compete in this conference you have to be able to play tough, unrelenting and unforgiving defense for 60-minutes. You cannot give up big plays and major gains, especially in the opening minutes.

Indiana receiver Whop Philyor crouches during warmups before Indiana’s game against Nebraska. (Bailey Wright/HN)

Timely penalties

They are killer. They cost Indiana over 100 yards last week and you cannot possibly beat Nebraska on the road when penalties continue to be an ongoing issue. Indiana tallied two flags for 29 yards in the first half. However, while the sheer number of penalties isn’t killing the Hoosiers, it is when the penalties are committed that continue to take Indiana out of games.

Early in the second quarter, Nebraska was facing a third-and-17 around its own 40-yard line. On the third down play, Nebraska elected to attempt an outside run that was pushed out of bounds for a 1-yard loss. The problem? Indiana defensive lineman Alfred Bryant was called for a facemask penalty giving Nebraska the automatic first down. While the Huskers did not score, it still offered enough momentum to further the drive down the field.

Ramsey is working…kind of.

As I was writing this, Peyton Ramsey threw his first interception. That one hurt the Hoosiers as they were nearing the endzone to end the half. So let’s go ahead and ignore that for the time being.

Ramsey has worked better than many were expecting as the backup quarterback has been able to throw 15-for-19, 165 yards, with one passing touchdown and one rushing as well. Obviously it is still early, but if Ramsey can keep these numbers up, he could give the Hoosiers a chance to win this one.

The bottom line:

Improvements all around are needed. However, this game is still within reach. If Indiana can come out of the locker room with a fiery, ready-to-go offense and an aggressive defense, the Hoosiers may be bowling in two short hours.

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