LINCOLN — Some 32 thousand this day saw the third annual meeting between the Hoosiers and the Cornhuskers produce no points.
But if they withstood the pore-opening sunshine to roar their support of the Cornhuskers, they must have discovered a good many reasons for optimistic contemplation of the Cornhuskers' future.
This must have been the general reaction despite the fact that Major Jones' eager beginners failed to convert into profit some half dozen scoring chances.
For the Jones Boys, both starters and understudies, showed that during the last five practice days they have made truly astonishing progress. Particularly was this true of their defensive play. Consider this evidence:
The Hoosiers, who pushed powerful, experienced Ohio State all over the field, were kept in thorough subjugation throughout the afternoon. The Hoosiers never threatened.
The Jones Boys' offense also showed a bright side. At least two of their goalward penetrations were stopped by the infliction of penalties.
There were times when they worked their limited repertory, single wingback tandem, except when punting, with yards-gobbling precision. They worked it against a line that included five veterans whose stern refusal to yield a year ago held the first class of Jones Boys to a 7-0 victory.
When shoved deep in their own dominion, the Hoosiers four times did check the opposition's attack, and force German Herman Rohrig to essay points-by-placement, three of which were of the heroic-desperation variety, and all of which sailed high and wide, or low and wide. A pesky south breeze levied a severe handicap on this sort of business no matter whether the ball was booted with it or against it.
Still and all, the Jones Boys did far more encouraging things when they had the ball than they did under similar circumstances against Iowa State and Minnesota.
There's pretty firm foundation for the notion that the Hoosiers weren't as capable an array as the Cyclones had been the previous week, but even if they weren't, the eyes-up and eyes-forward attitude seems definitely justified.
Under the inspiration of the magnificent Charley Brock and the completely restored Will Callihan and Jack Dodd, Major Jones' six sophomores and two 1937 substitutes who played almost three quarters of the time, demonstrated their rapid mastery of a great deal of savvy and the acquisition of poise, or stage-presence.
When, at the start of the last interval, the major shooed in his sophomore seconds, who included Debutant Bus Knight, there was no change in the alertness and emphasis of the defense, nor in the high promise of the offense. Colonel McMillin's first-teamers didn't have a chance. Indeed, they were held captive deep downfield, under the shadow of their own goal.
The sinister-armored kids who raged back and forth between the 20-yard lines against Ohio State could net only 59 yards on Nebraska terrain. The Nebraskans netted 121 yards. The Hoosiers' pass attack was thrice turned against them, twice by Jack Dodd and once by Sub Center Bob Burruss. Only one of Joe Nicholson's pitches was completed, and it produced nothing.
Now and then, when on their own side of midfield, Backs Paul Graham, Ed Clasen, Ed Herbert, Tim Bringle and Vince Oliver would work the scrimmage line forward with end sweeps or slashes through the tackles or center, but seldom were these didoes pieced together without interruption, and never did they pierce Nebraska territory much beyond the 40-yard stripe. A much-improved line — two lines, indeed — from end to end, saw to that.
The fine line-backing of Center Rus Sloss and Paul Graham and the expert performance of Tackle Bob Haak had a great deal to do with checking the Huskers brief paces from touchdowns. But a review of what went on indicates pretty clearly that the Indianans had to have the help of penalties to keep their goal uncrossed.
The day's big climax gallop brought the customers up howling at the start of the third period. Bill Callihan jumped high to intercept Frank Mikan's kickoff on his own 25, and then, convoyed by some pretty assertive, sharp-shooting blockers, pounded through 10 of the Hoosier lineup, along the sideline, for 51 yards, Oliver hauled him down on Oliver's own 26.
There the Hoosiers braced and on the fourth down Rohrig tried his second field goal, from the 39. His first was attempted in the second quarter, after Clasen had killed his own bum punt on his own 29, and reverses had forced the Huskers back toward their own goal. He kicked from the Hoosier 40 on fourth down — high enough, but away off line.
Again in the third period, and once in the fourth, Harry Hopp decided that placements provided the best fourth-down opportunity. Late in the third, Hopp raced back nine yards to the Hoosier 31, hugging Clasen's punt. Rohrig, the day's standout lugger, spun through the middle for six and Hopp made it a first down on the 21. But the Hoosiers again dug in, and from his 27 German Herman kicked wide.
Before German Herman made the last kick-that-failed, he and Hopp and Callihan rammed the ball within five yards of a touchdown.
Late in the third period, Brock recovered Graham's fumble on the Hoosier 21, and from there the heavyweight trio blasted.
Hopp made it first and 10 on the 10, but on the third down, with only five more to go, Oliver chased him out of bounds at left end for a yard loss, and Rohrig fumbled his fourth-down pass. Callihan recovered it on the 10, but that only looked good in the statistics because Indiana took possession on downs.
Early in the final period, Bob Burruss' interception of Nicholson's pass and his nine-yard run-back to the Hoosier 20 set Thurston Phelps to pitching. He didn't make a one good, though, and Indiana got the ball on a touchback.
But the Colonel's boys couldn't progress, and presently the Huskers were 45 yards away from points again. Then Bus Knight made his debut. He rammed the middle for seven. Then he was around left end for 10, 11, 12, 13. But the play was nullified by a holding penalty.
Then Major Jones sent back his starters. Hopp intercepted Nicholson's throw and dragged two tacklers back 12 yards to the Hoosier 23. Again the Huskers lacked what was necessary to piece together a critical first down and for the last time, from his 22, Rohrig kicked, for the first time against the wind. The wind carried it just on the far side of the south post.
Midway in the third quarter, Hopp pitched a beauty to Rohrig, who went bouncing 40 yards along the sidelines, to the enemy's 22 — only to have the play whistled back because some mate had been offside.
The Huskers never quit trying, and neither did Bo's young men. Neither side wanted a tie.
On the last play of the game, Rohrig fielded the ball, passed it to Dodd on the old reverse play that scored against Pitt last year, and Jack sailed down the boundary 27 yards before he was chased out — two or three seconds after the field judge's gun had popped taps.
Nebraska is 8-9 all-time against Indiana.
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