What Nebraska is Saying as the Cornhuskers Prepare For Indiana
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — It's four days out from Indiana's huge road game at Nebraska, and the Hoosiers still aren't sure who is going to play quarterback. That's the bad news. The good news is that Nebraska doesn't know either, and is forced to prepare for both.
Nebraska defensive coordinator Erik Chinander said Tuesday that they will be ready for either Michael Penix Jr. or Peyton Ramsey. Penix, the starter, left last week's game with an undisclosed injury and Ramsey finished the game, a 34-28 win for the Hoosiers. There is no update on Penix's availability for the 3:30 p.m. ET game, Indiana's first trip to Lincoln since the Huskers joined the Big Ten.
"I don't think the scheme is much different," Chinander said after Nebraska's Tuesday practice. "Penix has been banged up a little bit, but I think they're going to run their offense, whether one guy wants to pull a little more in the quarterback read stuff is one thing, but the offense isn't going to dramatically change."
He is impressed with Indiana's new-look offense under first-year coordinator Kalen DeBoer, and is preparing for a challenge.
"I think they've done a really great job on offense," Chinander said. "I know they've got Coach DeBoer there, who did a nice job at Fresno State last year. They're a West Coast spread offense, they use the tight end (Peyton Hendershot) very well, they've got a nice slot receiver (Whop Philyor), then they have some big guys (Nick Westbrook and Donovan Hale) on the edge.
"They've played both quarterbacks, both guys can run, both guys can distribute the football. They've got a nice offensive scheme, they spread the football around a lot. Indiana does a good job of getting a lot of players involved and a lot of players the football."
Nebraska had a bye week, which allowed them to get back to basics a little bit in preparations for Indiana. The Cornhuskers' defense has struggled this year, allowing 392.9 yards per game, only 64th-best in the nation and 10th in the Big Ten.
Nebraska is wearing its alternate black jerseys this week to honor the "Blackshirts'' tradition of great defenses in Cornhuskers history, but great isn't a word that's been used often with this current defense. The Cornhuskers are 4-3, and 2-2 in the Big Ten.
"Have we earned the right to wear that? Probably not. But that’s when it’s scheduled to be worn, so it better mean a lot this week and you better represent it when you put it on," Chinander said. "You put those things on and you go out and have a great day, that will set the tone for what it’s supposed to be from here on."
Indiana has been running the ball well lately because Stevie Scott and a stout offensive line, which has Nebraska concerned as well. In Big Ten games, Nebraska ranks 13th in the league in rush defense while allowing a league-worst 5.9 yards per carry.
"Any time you're in a bye week scenario you've got to evaluate where you're at. Sometimes you're in a position where you're playing really well and you need to recover and you need to get young guys reps and those types of things," Chinander said.
"We're not. We're in a position where we need to be better this coming week and work on being physical, continue to develop players and develop fundamentals."