BLOOMINGTON — Redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has provided a spark for Indiana’s offense through the first two weeks of the 2019 season.
But the Hoosiers could be without Penix heading into IU’s Big Ten opener at home against Ohio State.
Indiana coach Tom Allen confirmed Thursday that Penix is dealing with an undisclosed injury and will be a game-time decision Saturday against the Buckeyes (noon, Fox).
“He’s working through some things right now,” Allen said, “We’re not 100-percent sure, so it’s going to be a game-day decision.”
Allen would not disclose the location of the injury but said Penix has done limited work in practice during the week and does not expect it to be a long-term injury. He wouldn’t confirm or deny it’s related to the same knee where he suffered a torn ACL, which sidelined him for most of his freshman season
“We’re just working through it, trying to get it rehabbed,” Allen said.
To his knowledge, Allen said the injury didn’t occur in last week’s game against Eastern Illinois. Penix passed for 197 yards and two TDs against the Panthers before leaving in the second quarter. For the season, Penix has passed for 523 yards with three TDs and two interceptions, while rushing for 79 yards in his first two career starts.
If Penix can’t go, Allen has full confidence in redshirt junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey running the offense. Ramsey went 13-of-14 for 226 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Penix against Eastern Illinois. Last season, Ramsey started all 12 games for the Hoosiers, passing for 2,875 yards with 19 TDs and 13 interceptions.
“Peyton will be ready,” Allen said. “I feel great about Peyton. He’s won a lot of games for us here, and he’s a great player.”
Ramsey, a Cincinnati native, had one of his best games last season against the Buckeyes, passing for 322 yards with three TDs and no interceptions.
Allen doesn’t see the offensive gameplan changing much if Ramsey has to line up under center instead of Penix.
“They are very similar quarterbacks skill-set wise,” Allen said. “Not really much changes at all. That’s the good part about it. We’re just able to be who we are and run our offense. So we’ll be ready.”
Allen said it was valuable to get Ramsey some game reps last week in new offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer’s scheme. He said it also was important to get redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Tuttle some game experience. Tuttle, who completed three of seven passes for 18 yards last week, would be elevated to the backup quarterback if Penix can’t play Saturday.
“When I sat down with those guys, I told them you have to be ready every week,” Allen said. “You never know when you are going to get called upon. It can happen during a game as well. So it happens all across the country, and you’ve got to be ready to rise up and ready to play.”
• Allen said sophomore linebacker Cam Jones (lower leg) has practiced full bore the last two days and will be back Saturday against Ohio State.
• Defensive back Marcelino Ball also will return to the starting position at the husky position after not starting against Eastern Illinois due to disciplinary reasons. Ball had two personal foul penalties in IU’s season opener against Ball State. “He’s one of our leaders, and I expect high things from those guys, the way that you play and how you handle yourself during the snap and after the whistle,” Allen said, “I think that message was heard loud and clear.” Jamar Johnson started for Ball at the husky and finished with one tackle, including half of a tackle for loss. “Jamar is doing good things,” Allen said.
• Allen said crowd support will be critical for IU at Memorial Stadium, and he has been reaching out to alumni. “You need every possible component to be working together, flowing together and helping us be special on game day,” Allen said. Considering how well Ohio State fans travel, Allen was asked if he was hoping IU fans will be able to squeeze the Buckeye faithful out. “They’re welcome to whatever seats are open,” Allen said. “But, hopefully, there’s not a lot of open seats for them to sit in.”