BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Thankfully, the jumbotron at Memorial Stadium showed Northwestern running back Damien Anderson jogging to the locker room at the start of the second half. Otherwise, only a few people might have known he was leaving the game.
After returning the kickoff to start the half, Anderson separated his left shoulder on a hit by Indiana defensive tackle Jodie Clemens. His condition is day-to-day, according to NU trainers.
Anderson left the game and headed for the locker room, where trainers examined him for the rest of the quarter. His shoulder was put back into place and he was ready to go, but Walker decided to keep him out for the remainder of the game.
“They said he would be ready to go, but would be limited somewhat in strength and movement,” Walker said. “And by that point we were in a passing juggernaut – we were going to throw it every down. Who needs a guy out there who can’t pass-protect or raise his arms to catch a ball? And that’s the limitations they told me he had.”
Anderson was being treated after the game and was unavailable to comment.
Anderson still has not rushed for 100 yards against a Big Ten opponent. Indiana’s defense became the sixth unit to keep him under the century mark, holding him to a new season-low of 51 yards.
REST RETHOUGHT: When it was brought to his attention three weeks ago, Randy Walker said playing three straight Big Ten opponents that were coming off bye weeks wouldn’t matter.
But that’s when his team was 4-1, coming off a win and preparing for then-last place Penn State.
But three losses later, Walker is cozying up to the excuse.
“I’m not saying that it’s a factor because I don’t know if it is,” Walker said. “But if they can catch us flat-footed at all, they can come out of the blocks. They had us reeling. Not that they rested up more than us or anything, but obviously I think it was an advantage.”
Wildcats linebacker Billy Silva was also aware of the down time his opponents have been given.
“They, along with the last three teams we’ve played, have had two weeks to prepare for us,” Silva said. “But I’m not making any excuses.”
TRES BON: Saturday was the first time since NU’s loss to Purdue on Nov. 7, 1998, that a running back other than Anderson led the Cats in rushing.
NU tailback Kevin Lawrence’s 77 yards against the Hoosiers was well more than Anderson’s lowly 51 – and Brian Marshall’s 56 on that November afternoon three seasons ago. Quarterback Zak Kustok has outrushed Anderson twice this season.
Lawrence danced away from Hoosiers defenders in Anderson’s absence during the second half. On three occasions, Lawrence did a complete forward flip as he tried to jump over Indiana linebackers.
Just as impressive as Lawrence’s yardage totals was the fact that he gained ground on every one of his carries – and he had just as many attempts as Anderson or Kustok.
The Cats again started two freshmen in the defensive backfield. It was a noticeable difference from last season’s lineup – and one that didn’t escape the attention of Indiana’s quarterback.
“They were playing a totally different secondary from last year so we knew we could get to them,” Hoosiers quarterback Antwaan Randle El said.
Safety Dominique Price got his second start for NU and cornerback Marvin Ward got his fourth. The team’s opening-day starters at those spots, Marvin Brown and Sean Wieber, both did not play because of injury.
Randle El ended the day with 246 yards passing and three touchdown strikes.
INCHES TO GO: Pat Durr’s 11 tackles led the Cats defense. … There were no sacks by Indiana or NU – the two worst rushing defenses in the Big Ten. … Randle El became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 40 touchdowns and rush for 40 touchdowns. … Indiana’s first touchdown, a 47-yard pass, was Randle El’s longest completion of the season. … Indiana running back Jeremi Johnson’s 25-yard carry was the longest rush of his career.