Barret Pickering

Nebraska's Barret Pickering is greeted after kicking an extra point. The Husker missed his first field goal attempt, but would later make another and was 4 for 4 on extra points. 

Barret Pickering didn’t want to get into it.

The last eight weeks, during which he’s been sidelined by injury. The injury itself. How well he’s feeling now. All the Nebraska sophomore kicker was thinking late Saturday was how his streak of 10 made field goals dating back to last season could end on a 32-yarder that his team needed in the second quarter.

“At the stage of my career I’m at, there should be no rust from that distance,” Pickering said. “I should be executing, not missing kicks like that.”

Pickering began taking reps with the top unit this week, he said. He’s been working with the training staff the past two months with the goal of getting on the turf this year. The Alabama native made a 30-yard field goal after pulling his first one and was 4 for 4 on extra points.

Asked again about his pain level and mobility, the kicker reiterated that performance should trump any excuse.

“I’m out there on the field,” Pickering said. “That’s all that matters. I should be out there just making kicks.”

Blackshirts don't set tone early

The pregame vibe on defense wasn’t good.

It was poor enough that Frost said Daniels — a senior lineman who has been on campus less than a year — had to stop everybody and yell at them. Frost charged the moment to a culture of “just an average team.”

Other Huskers painted a more specific picture after the 38-31 loss to Indiana. Defensive back Cam Taylor-Britt said players were “feeling sorry for themselves,” perhaps related to injuries and the physical wear of the season. Defensive lineman Ben Stille said the morning was an example of how position leaders — himself included — weren’t upholding the standard of being fully focused on the game.

“There’s a fine line between playing loose — being loose pregame, being loose in practice, being loose in walk-throughs — and being locked in,” Stille said. “I think teetering that line is important.”

Freshman outside linebacker Garrett Nelson, who saw a career-high number of snaps, lamented putting the defensive backs in such poor position with the front seven failing to produce a pass rush. The performance was even more painful considering the team donned black alternate jerseys to honor the tradition of defensive excellence.

“A lot of former Blackshirts are probably putting some holes through some walls,” Nelson said. “I don’t blame them.”

Not so special

Special teams gaffes continued to be a theme. In addition to Pickering’s wide-left miss of a 32-yard field goal in the second quarter, the other aspects of the kicking game hounded the Huskers as well. William Przystup booted a ball out of bounds on a kickoff to set up the Hoosiers at the 35-yard line in the third quarter — Indiana scored the go-ahead touchdown six plays later. Punter Isaac Armstrong shanked a punt out of bounds for 19 yards earlier in the frame. The visitors found the end zone on that ensuing drive, as well.

“We’ve got a lot of guys on this team that really care, we’ve got some guys on this team that are tough and dedicated enough, (but) we don’t have enough of them yet,” Frost said. “I told the team, right now that’s where we are, we’re just OK. We’re just OK right now because a lot of the things that are done are just OK.”

Hoosier QB wings it 

Ramsey, a redshirt junior, said Nebraska’s defense gave him what he wanted. He ended up throwing for 351 yards.

“They didn’t do a whole lot different (than on film), and that’s a credit to our coaches for preparing us,” he said.

Ramsey also added this: “I don’t think it had anything to do with their defense. I think it had a lot to do with our skilled guys.”

Indiana coach Tom Allen said the Hoosiers knew they couldn’t run much on Nebraska, so they took to the air.

“We found things we could take advantage of in the pass game, and they proved to be true,” Allen said.

Softball recruits make an appearance

An ideal game day atmosphere Saturday provided a perfect pitch day for not only football recruits but those in many other sports.

Notable among those was the first gathering of softball recruits. Now that the high school season has ended in states that have a fall season, it’s easier to get everyone together for on-campus visits.

All eight of the players who have committed to being part of 2020 recruiting class were on the Memorial Stadium sideline Saturday prior to Nebraska’s football game against Indiana.

That group included two players who have been honored on previous World-Herald’s All-Nebraska teams — Gretna's Billie Andrews and Lincoln Southwest’s Abbie Squier.

Andrews, whose sister Brooke will be a freshman for the Huskers in 2020, is an infield recruit, while Squier will patrol the outfield beginning in 2021.

In addition to eight seniors, one high school junior joined the group. Papillion-La Vista catcher Brooke Dumont, who helped lead the Monarchs to the first undefeated season by a Class A team in state history, was making her initial visit to Lincoln.

The Huskers are scheduled to open their 2020 season in Las Cruces, N.M. Feb. 6 against host New Mexico State.

Veterans honored

Because the Huskers don’t have another home game for three weeks, the annual salute to military veterans and law enforcement was part of Saturday’s pregame activities.

Nebraska will be on its second bye week of the season on the Saturday prior to Veterans Day.

Flags from all branches of the military were presented during the National Anthem, and there was a flyover during the anthem.

Quick Hits

» Nebraska was without Daniels, one of its top defensive linemen on Saturday. Amid the numerous injuries on offense, Daniels — arguably NU’s best defensive player through the first half of the season — was not able to help the Huskers’ defense.

“He’s a little injured,” Frost said. “He tried to gut it out, but he just wasn’t full speed.”

» On six different drives Saturday, an Indiana defender dropped to the turf, seemingly injured between Nebraska offensive plays. Memorial Stadium voiced its fierce displeasure at each injury, although a few were hurt enough to be taken to the trainer’s bench.

“I think in sports you have to give those guys the benefit of the doubt, but it can hurt your tempo in a game like that with injuries and stoppages,” NU quarterback Noah Vedral said. “But again, I’m not going to accuse them of anything because if they are injured they deserve the benefit of the doubt.”

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