Penix making his case as quarterback competition continues

Four practices in and at least one thing is clear in an otherwise muddled quarterback competition.

Michael Penix is making a compelling case for the job.

It is, of course, still early in IU’s fall camp, and the Hoosiers won’t hold their first full-padded practice until this morning. But not only is the freshman from Tampa keeping pace with fellow contenders Peyton Ramsey and Brandon Dawkins, at times he’s appeared at the front of the pack.

“I think he has great confidence in himself, and he has great poise,” offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said, “but he’s still learning. We’ve got some new things for training camp, so he’s still learning just like everybody else is. It’s a learning process for him just like it is everybody else. But he does have that great confidence about himself.”

The learning process began seven months ago for Penix, who enrolled at IU in time for the spring semester. While sharing snaps with Ramsey during spring ball, Penix immediately demonstrated a true dual-threat skill set — and the strongest arm in the backfield. During Monday’s practice, Penix fired a well-timed deep ball over the middle to speedy slot receiver Whop Philyor, who took it to the end zone for a touchdown reception that spanned more than half the field.

Penix is clearly comfortable in the pocket, and attributes that feeling to the past few months of seasoning his early enrollment afforded.

“It helped a lot,” Penix said. “Just coming in and seeing the speed of the game itself. Everything is a little bit faster coming out of high school. Just adjusting to the speed, it helped a lot getting to know the players more and getting better chemistry.”

Although the physical tools seem to be there with Penix, there’s so much more that goes into the position. So the behind-the-scenes aspects of leadership and command of the playbook may be the most important areas to watch with the youngster as the month unfolds.

“He’s growing,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “He’s young and he’s learning how to be a student of the game. You have to study a ton of film and you have to be a leader in the meetings. You have to be a leader in the locker room. You have to be a leader at all times. That position demands that. Those are things that you just — time is where those are created, and with good leadership and mentorship. (Quarterbacks coach Nick) Sheridan provides that. Even the other guys in the room provide that. They are truly a group of guys that are working together.”

Indeed, this is a competition that has already seen all three quarterbacks enjoy fruitful moments. That the youngest one of the bunch is enjoying his is a sign that IU may have more options than originally believed.

“He’s going to be fun to watch as he continues to develop,” Big Ten Network analyst Howard Griffith said. “The tough thing is that he’s a freshman and has some veteran guys in front of him, but you can see the upside. So it’s just a matter of him continuing to get comfortable. It just depends if he can sustain throughout camp.”


  1. I’ve had a good feeling about this young man ever since he committed to IU. Hope I’m right about it, but he just might be one those sleepers who turn out to be special.

  2. Yes very interesting prospect dont think he’ll start right away but i do think he’ll play eventually

  3. Chet
    I totally disagree with you……Nate Sudfield, Cam Coffman and Tre Roberson was better than the current group of quarterbacks…..Patrick Ramsey cannot throw pass 20 yards, Brandon Dawkins has some accuracy problems cannot give opinion on Michael Penix (zero game experience)…..whereby Nate Sudfeld has most of the Indiana University passing records. Cam Coffman and Tre Roberson both had legitimate arm strength, both had some accuracy problems….But both are far ahead of Patrick Ramsey in arm strength and both are far ahead of Dawkins in accuracy…The only major advantage the current group of quarterback have over any group of IU quarterbacks is their ability to “RUN/MOBILITY”. An after the BIG 10 and Beyond segment, I get the feeling that the commentators where only impressed with Michael Penix.

    1. We have a cornerback who might be a better version of Roberson. Tre was a really good FCS quarterback. It’s not the same gig.

      Coffman was a band aid who couldn’t win back the job he was handed. He couldn’t win the job anywhere else, either. Nate was really good.

      We won’t know what we have in Penix until he sees the field but he sure looks to have the tools.

      Dawkins was one of the statistical leaders in the PAC 12 until a Heisman trophy candidate hit campus.

      I don’t know who Patrick Ramsey is, but Peyton was incredibly accurate while throwing on the run. I have no idea how you assessed his arm strength vs. Coffman.

      I’ll stick with my assessment.

      1. I’m with Chet..This group of quarterbacks will be fun as hell to watch. Could even sell quite a few more seats in Memorial because of this group. And to not be thin at the position will make huge bumps in the road/season less likely. IU quarterbacks of the past always seemed far too small or a clumsily sizable….They were one hard hit of never getting off the turf…or one awkward cut away from an already gimpy knee blowing out and turning into a season-ending injury.

        I think we have far more solid bodies and solid athletes behind center this year. And they will be far more dynamic components in IU’s offensive attack. It’s gotta make for more optimism in the overall product….

    2. I completely disagree! Sudfield had/has a great arm. But he was slow and no running threat. I did love his toughness, but he got hit because he could not make defenders miss. Tre was an outstanding running threat, but small and not a great arm. Coffman was a decent 3rd option. Now IU has 3 excellent dual threat starters that can do it all. Peyton proved that he could start and win in the B1G last year. Penix is the first great freshman QB IU has had since Gonso. Dawkins can start and win tomorrow. This is a loaded QB group. Good job Coach and staff!

  4. I’ll refrain from the celebratory comments until he wins the job. But if we’re really going to make use of our WR corps, Penix is the guy.

  5. It’s a crap shoot with a Frosh QB as a rule. 3 fast steps forward and 3 disastrous steps back. Doesn’t have to be like that but it is a real possibility as the mental decision making breaks down before the physical fatigues.

    1. While that is true, big time programs do not seem to hesitate to put the ball in the hands of talented freshmen.

      1. They also possess 4-5* playmakers to support and protect them with. Something at IU DeBord struggles to recognize. HT QB candidates can usually carry the water even as a Frosh.

      2. AL used one to replace a starter to win last year’s Championship against GA’s freshman QB! ‘Nuff said!

  6. Talented freshmen play all over the country and help teams win games. Whether Penix is the best QB for IU this year is to be seen. IU has a very accurate QB with Ramsey and by all accounts has improved his arm strength [he will never be a Sudfeld but Nate didn’t help IU win more than 6 games], a very athletic QB with Power 5 experience, and a talented 4 star QB recruited by TN. How much any of them can move IU’s offense is to be seen. It is intriguing to think of what the offense can be like with each of them. A bonus is all three have increased their speed and now are in the silver cleat class running 22 MPH [to put this in perspective Brookins ran 18 MPH last year and is not 20.6 MPH]. We just don’t know how all the improvements will change IUFB at this point but I am hopeful it leads to more wins.

  7. 2018: Dawkins end up as starter. Penix plays and redshirt. Ramsey number 2. Adjustable in case of injury.
    2019: Ramsey or Penix starter. Adjustable for injury, knicks and dings. 3rd string will be new recruit.
    2020: Same as 2019
    2021: Penix
    2022: Penix

  8. Dawkins experience vs Lagow experience. Will he have same problems as in costly turn overs.
    2019 and 2020
    Penix may be starter and Ramsey a good number 2 qb his junior senior year.
    And then there is Reese Taylor lurking in the background if situation arises and at IU situations do arise in past.

    1. Lagow was never a good college QB! He had a “pro arm”, but, no touch, erratic accuracy, no run threat, no elusiveness, and turned the ball over in key circumstances!

  9. If IU wants to run the ball, Dawkins must play. Ramsey is NOT a serious threat to run with any great success, and IU can’t be a pass-heavy offense. Penix appears to be a significant talent, and his future is bright, but his inexperience presents a risk T.A. can not afford to take right now.

    As for Dawkins’ experience compared to Lagow, the difference is that when Dawkins will get outside the packet often, and when he has no obvious target, he’ll tuck it and run. Lagow was strictly a pocket passer, was uncomfortable outside the pocket and incapable of running, so his instinct was to try to “squeeze” the ball into any target he could see. Based on watching him play at AZ, when he has no targets, I believe Dawkins’ first instinct will be to run the ball.

    You also have to remember the pressure AZ’s terrible defenses placed on AZ’s offenses when Dawkins was there. They had to score on virtually every possession because their defense could not stop anyone. Now, with reasonably good defense, there will be less pressure on IU’s quarterbacks to take unreasonable risks in a desperate attempt to score and catch up to the opponent.

    1. P-Dunker, actuary look at last season’s stats and remember that Peyton was playing injured for at least half of his snaps. Peyton was a very accurate passer and a very productive runner in his red-shirt freshman year. He did not have downfield WR threats to utilize. Now both Westbrook and Hale join Whop to provide some downfield sizzle!

    2. Lagow’s prior ‘experience’ was at a community college…not as a PAC12 starting quarterback.

      That’s comparing checkers to the neurosugery.

  10. At least North Carolina stays North Carolina. 13 players suspended for selling team-issued shoes.

  11. BP;
    I remember Ramsey taking the low hit to his legs on a pass play and injuring his knee in the second half of the season. Before that, I do not recall him being injured. He certainly did not play injured for half his snaps last year.

    Ramsey did a good job last year. I admired his poise, composure and passing accuracy. And when they first put him in, it confused defenses for a couple of games. But then the defenses adjusted and he became less effective as a runner. He is accurate on short passes, but really does not possess either the arm strength or the running ability to threaten defenses and therefore does not have the ability to stretch the field. Dawkins has a stronger arm (but is probably less accurate) and is a much better (faster) runner. Both his running ability and his arm strength stretch the field and make it much harder for defenses. On top of that, he has a lot more experience playing against Power-5 conference teams, some which had top-rated defenses. Unless Dawkins has a hard time learning or executing the offense, I see him as giving IU the best chance of winning. However, I anticipate that all three quarterbacks will play this season. Unless Dawkins and Ramsey get injured, my guess is that Penix will see some action in up to four games and be redshirted.

    Here’s a question for you. Do you think Penix being a left-handed quarterback will create problems with receivers when he come into games as a replacement for either Dawkins or Ramsey? I’ve heard it said that switching from a righty to a lefty during a game, and having the opposite spin on the football, can make it harder for receivers to catch the ball, at least until they adjust.

    1. P-Dunker. Talk to people close to the team. Peyton had leg and torso injuries that limited him after his 3rd game. He runs 22 mph. That is fast. Many B1G coaches would love to have him on their team. Peyton is good, and experienced, unlike Stevens at PSU!

  12. O.K., I’ll take your word for it that Ramsey was dinged up for portions of last season. But every quarterback who runs the ball is going to get dinged up. I don’t recall ever playing in a High School game in which I was not dinged up. And if his dings prevented Ramsey from running the ball last season, T.A. should not have played him. His advantage over Lagow was his mobility.

  13. Allen played Peyton over Lagow so that IU had a better chance to win. If you have played “hurt”, then you know that you can play but not to your potential, you are less athletically gifted, you can’t make plays that you could make when well. Even hurt Peyton was the better runner, made better decisions, and made fewer turnovers, until he just could not play anymore.

  14. BP, I take it you’re a fan of Ramsey. And I am too! But the stats don’t support the hypothesis that injuries diminished Ramsey’s performance last year, either in passing or running the ball. Overall, during 2017, Ramsey ran 92 times, gaining 226 yards, for an average of 2.5 yards per carry. As a starter, Ramsey ran the ball 58 times for 109 yards (1.8 average). In the last five games in which he played, one of which was his start against Charleston Southern, Ramsey ran the ball between 12 and 15 times per game (averaging 14 per game). He averaged 2.3 yards per carry in those five games. So there is nothing in the stats that suggest that injuries affected his performance as a runner until his season-ending knee injury. And in the four games he started, Ramsey threw 6 touchdowns and 4 INTs. But if you take out the Charleston Southern game, Ramsey passed for 4 touchdowns and threw 3 INTs in the other 3 games he started. Ironically, his best passing performance was against Maryland, the game in which he injured his knee and ended his season. He was 31 of 41 for 279 yards with 3 TDs against 1 INT.

    Ramsey was an effective “change of pace” weapon for IU last year. With defenses prepared to defend against Lagow, a traditional and immobile pocket-passer, inserting Ramsey into games confused defenses in the early part of the season. In the five games in which he played but did not start, Ramsey ran the ball 34 times, gaining 107 yards (3.14 yards per carry). He’s a good ball-control QB, a good game manager. But neither his legs or his arm are good enough to break big plays or instill fear into Big Ten defenses. And based on that, I don’t see him as the starter for IU.

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