On Michael Penix and the plan moving forward

He’s played in two games, completed 80 percent of his throws and shown signs — albeit briefly — that he could be Indiana’s quarterback of the future.

So what is IU’s plan with Michael Penix this season?

It’s Tom Allen’s hope that he can preserve the freshman’s redshirt.

“In the big scheme of things, when you have a guy like that who has that much talent and who we know is going to be a great player then, if at all possible, if you can save a whole year’s worth of eligibility, that’d be the ideal (situation),” the Indiana coach said.

Because he’s appeared in two contests to date, Penix can play in up to two more before burning his redshirt. Allen is trying to be judicious, saving those two for the second half of the schedule.

Even when Peyton Ramsey appeared hobbled by an ankle injury during last week’s second half at Ohio State, Allen stuck with his starter. It will be worth keeping an eye on Ramsey’s mobility and physical comfort during Saturday’s homecoming contest against Iowa. As tough as the redshirt sophomore has proven to be, Indiana can’t afford to take its chances with a limited quarterback.

Ramsey insisted after last week’s game that he was fine. If it turns out he’s not fine at any point against the Hawkeyes, Penix could see his first opportunity since the second half of the Ball State victory on Sept. 15.

This week, IU needs all hands on deck.

“The bottom line is that right now he’s the backup quarterback,” Allen said. “We’re trying to maximize that situation as best as possible. He’s one snap away from being the starter, so he’s got to be ready for that. His role right now is that every single time we take the field to play he’s ready to go, if need be.”

Allen is making his stance clear. He’d like to create two years of separation between Ramsey and Penix, while also allowing the latter to bank a year of eligibility and both add to his 6-foot-3, 206-pound frame, as well as continue to build his knowledge of the system.

A fair argument also exists for playing Penix, regardless. He clearly has the better arm of the two, and if a consistently aggressive downfield passing attack doesn’t materialize across the second half of the season, the Hoosiers could be in trouble. It would also serve IU well to have Penix as ready as possible. The only real way to do that is by playing him.

During fall camp, Ramsey was the most consistent between the two. Penix was, without question, the most electric. He also made mistakes typical of freshmen. Practices during the season are closed to reporters.

Allen says Penix is aware of his intentions, and whether the coach’s plan changes course in the second half will be among the storylines to watch.

“You’re gonna get him out there when we can within those two games,” Allen said. “If he has to play more, he will. But right now, the more you can maximize that (redshirt rule, the better). We’ve had this conversation with him and he understands what we’re trying to do. That’s what we’re thinking. … You’d like to be able to save a full year of eligibility, if at all possible. Doesn’t always work out that way, and you have to make adjustments on the fly. And we will.”


  1. Hogwash! When PR and IU offense is not making enough big plays and bogs down play MP now. Then, over the next two or three years recruit two quality qbs 3 star at 77 or higher or 4 star qbs.

    1. I got a chance to see one of their top QB targets in David Baldwin of IMG Academy earlier in the season. Having seen them both play in HS, I still like Penix a little better but Baldwin is no joke.

    2. No one is ever guaranteed a “next season”, including Coach Allen! He needs to win 7 this season. Even if IU squeaks out a 6-6 season it will be difficult to generate enthusiasm. If IU plays Penix, and he performs well, IU Football will be exciting for years to come!

  2. O.K., I could buy it if T.A. said that Penix, as a dual-threat QB needs to get bigger/stronger before he’d make him the starter. I could buy it if he said, “he needs to demonstrate better command of the offense before we give him the keys to the car.” But T.A. implied that the only reason Penix is not playing is because he wants him for four years after this season. What the bleep? T.A. sounds as if their is a limit on the number of QBs he can recruit, or that he has no confidence that he can sign an equally talented quarterback within the next three seasons. There’s no way Penix is going to be happy as the back-up until Ramsey graduates. I hope there is more to this than T.A. is telling us. If not, he’s playing with fire. Penix has more talent. He needs to be allowed to develop that talent in games. If not, he may not be around two years from now.

  3. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. It’s exactly as I figured Coach Allen was playing it. He will play 2 more games. He will play if Ramsey gets injured. He will play to attain bowl eligibility. I’ll bet he also could play to secure a bowl victory.

    1. I just hope he is good enough at that point to make enough of a difference. It will be an even bigger stage with only 2 or 3 games of experience. Of course, Alabama made the switch on the biggest stage of all so I guess it could work out!

  4. When was the last Hoosier qb of recent memory to make it through an entire season injury-free? Roberson, Sudfeld, Lagow, Covington…..? Let’s face it gang, it will be a miracle if Ramsey doesn’t get knocked to Topeka in one of the BigTen games. We still have Penn State and Michigan.

    Allen is in a dreamworld ….Penix should have been gaining experience while, at the same time, allowing Ramsey to stay intact and remain unscathed. Sadly, I think it’s only a matter of time when we’ll see a force of hand.

  5. As I mentioned on another thread, a red shirt is a gift. The university is basically handing you $40,000.

    Don’t cry any tears for Penix.

  6. No tears for MP. Capping wins @ 6 for “jockstrap bowl” and then not get to 6 wins getting beat by P.U…..unless there is more to an unknown story. Or M.P. is seen sooner than later. Or even R.T. By second half PR is torture to watch.

  7. Sounds reasonable to not have MP around to set on bench until PR graduates. Then, R.T. moves up or play a guard or tackle @ qb so R.T. can continue trying to be a playmaker with an incompetent qb.

  8. What I predicted in the preseason almost happened last week. Ramsey goes down to injury, Penix comes in and plays well, and Ramsey is holding a clipboard the rest of the season.

  9. Take a good look at this. No QB commit for ’19’. Maybe QB targets for ’20-21′ are not yet giving off vibes to yet feel good about. Wilson was broiled on here for roster management of the QB position. Now Allen is fully displaying his plan with roster mgt.(which at every other position he is given kudos)and also gets broiled by those same armchair qb’s. The big bucks of HC’s is indeed well earned.

    1. True on no 2019 QB commit YET, but they have at least three they’re targeting for this class and I fully expect them to sign one.

      1. Always targets. As to absolute signing, positive speculative hope. Like attaining bowl eligibility this year, very fluid.

  10. Coach Allen is a wise man. Keeping the RS is the best plan. If we burn the redshirt, then Penix proves he isn’t ready and we miss a bowl game, all of the people calling for him to play now will be calling coach and idiot for playing him. Plus a whole year of eligibility will be gone. Top 40 recruiting class coming in next year and Penix should be with them for as long as possible. Leave the important decisions to the important people.

    1. I won’t be the one calling Coach Allen an idiot for playing him. I saw Penix play twice last year in person against very strong defenses loaded with three and four star kids and he had his way with them. Penix is a stud. Does anyone think he choose I.U. over Florida St and Tennessee to sit behind Ramsey for three years? I think not. Clearly Allen wants to preserve his redshirt this year and I get it.

  11. If IU can’t recruit a good complete qb or two 3 star at 77 or above or 4 star during the next two or three years IU winning cap is about six and under. It would be totally different if PR was a GOOD COMPLETE qb but he is not. Redshirt should not influence decision making.

    1. I agree with your redshirt comment. This new redshirt rule is something they’re still figuring out. I think he made the decision to RS Penix early and is just sticking to his plan. We’ll see how it works out. The coaching world hasn’t totally figured out the new rule yet.

    2. if you don’t think Penix is the most complete quarterback IU has recruited in the past 30 years, you don’t know football. Tell me who was more complete? Sudfeld? not mobile Randle El? lacked accuracy Trent Green? Didn’t have the same arm strength. All those guys were “complete” enough for NFL careers.

    1. I haven’t seen anything news on a depth chart for this game but I have a feeling we might see Ellison against the Hawkeyes. Well, atleast I hope we do.

  12. Morgan Ellison is another situation of societal norms and how they are viewed both, societal and individually. This is another situation of what definition is assigned to a concept of action involved by those involved.

  13. Coach Tom Allen is playing with fire “tomorrow is promise to no-one”. Mike Penix could transfer or leave Indiana football for any reason (get home sick, grades, etc.). Who’s to say that Peyton Ramsey does not win out the starting quarterback position next year?? Ask Brandon Dawkins?? Will it truly be an open competition next year?? An what if another quarterback transfers into Indiana?? all these question are surely going thru Mike Penix mind. By the end of the year/season Mike might fell differently and transfers.

  14. I wonder how much the decision was about a steady QB versus an exciting QB who makes some mistakes but also amkes more plays. I worry this staff is too risk averse although I don’t see Penix as a risk. I wasn’t sold on Penix for this year because of his size but his performance and increase in size this Spring changed my mind. IU has a chance to have an explosive high scoring offense if Penix is QB. With Ramsey and more aggressive play calling IU can have a good offense that scores 26 points against anyone and 35 against everyone else. Coach Allen’s thoughts might be that a young defense needed a less risky offense to win.

    My biggest concern is that Penix didn’t play enough in either game to let fans see what he could do or to give him needed experience if IU needs him. Just from the experience example I think they have made a mistake in how Penix has been used.

  15. fishspinners hit the nail on the head with this question; “Does anyone think he (Penix) chose I.U. over Florida St and Tennessee to sit behind Ramsey for three years? I think not.” I agree completely. And furthermore, he enrolled early so that he could participate in Spring Football. Did he do that so that he could sit behind a guy who is at best an average college quarterback?

    I’m not saying Penix should be the starter right now. I’m saying, redshirting him for a year should not be the primary criteria for whether he plays or not. I’m saying, give Penix more experience for two reasons: 1) he’ll need it if Ramsey goes down with injury, and 2) allow him to display his skills in Big Ten games to see who the better quarterback really is. If Penix’s skill set gives IU a better chance to win games this season, who cares about maintaining his redshirt?

  16. IU scoring average 26 against big ten opponents is pretty optimistic with PR as qb.
    IU coaching staff has to be aware of Penix situation and is ignoring any aspect of what many on this blog see as a major controversy.

  17. Maybe manufacturing controversy is more important to IU Football than manufacturing wins? With basketball around the corner, maintaining this mini qb controversy (all sitting on the Memorial edges of their empty seats to get a first glimpse of Penix against a Big Ten team) is probably an ingenious way to keep a baseline of interest in a usual blasé product.

    Translated: What we hope to see keeps us watching? Once we see it, it probably won’t look that different. And, per usual the case for IU Sports, we will quickly turn our eyes to hoops in late October/early November.

  18. I don’t pretend to understand redshirting strategies, whether under the new rule or the old. I guess it makes sense if 1) the new guy clearly needs time to adjust, or 2) the other QBs are pretty good so why burn a year on the new guy if you don’t have to. I suppose there are a lot of other formulae used by coaches. However, a lot of people here seem to think Penix is something spectacular (best recruit in thirty years, tore it up in HS, etc.) but there is not a lot of hard evidence for that- at least evidence available to most of us here. Maybe the coaches judge Penix, from what they see in practice, to be a scenario one kind of guy. But ultimately I have to agree with PO- that IF Penix can give IUFB a better shot at winning right now, he should play. I say that would be true for any team, but I think it is particularly true in the case of IUFB- must preserve/enhance the recruiting trend started by Wilson by fielding some winning teams.

  19. Davis- TA made a comment about Penix to a reporter at the end of Summer- “you saw what I saw, he’s a special talent, a special kind of player.” They know what they have. The first game when he was with the #1 offense, he looked great. His second, with mostly the #2 offense, he wasn’t as effective. I understand they don’t want to throw him into a situation where he could get hurt, but his ability to stretch the field, throw on the run and be more of a running threat than Ramsey gives IU legitimate chances to win NOW. If they can redshirt him and still win 7-8 games, I guess it makes sense. However, if the team is 5-5 going into the last 2 games, they should start Penix. People are justifiably excited about Sampson James, but Penix has the ability to change the program by himself (just not while sitting on the bench).

  20. I remember a few games ago when someone was concerned about the possibility of shattering Ramsey’s confidence (MSU game?) as a reason to not insert Penix into a close game.

    How would Ramsey feel about being benched @ 5-5 and being refused the opportunity to finish a season after riding him fully invested for 10 games? Seriously? Far better off to hurt his feelings now….than to pull the rug out from under him via an unproven backup you believe can get you over the hump and into a bowl. It’s more than insulting to Penix as well….”I couldn’t get a taste of limelight or action against MSU or OSU…but now you want me to bail your butts out for a Tic-Tac Bowl?”

    PLAY PENIX NOW! If he can’t cut it, Ramsey gets to say “I told ya so.” It could end up being a far better situation for Ramsey by merely relieving the pressure that’s coming with perplexed fans concerning the dust accumulating on Penix’s shelved ability.

    1. “How would Ramsey feel about being benched . . . .” All this babble about Payton’s feelings and Michael’s confidence makes me wonder whether I’m reading about football or a transcript of the Oprah Winfrey show. “If you’re not getting it done, son, take a seat” is not only football, it’s life. These are not eight-year olds, they are young men who’ve signed up for COMPETITIVE sports.

      “I understand they don’t want to throw him into a situation where he could get hurt . . . .” What situation is that? An actual game of tackle football? Players get hurt in practice, fer cryin’ out loud. Unless someone is making decisions based on hard info re: the statistical probability of an injury in any particular situation (home/road game? weather? green uniforms on the other team?), not playing your best players ’cause they might get hurt seems daft.

  21. How about MP confidence or missed opportunity for him to establish confidence and his opportunity for improvement. PR had these opportunities and second half of games expose his ceiling. I want to see MP ceiling and where it is unless PR is having really good game. T.A. and some are trying to sell a false PR bill of goods. Is PR the 13 or 14th best starter in big ten and in top 25 qbs if you count those setting on benches in big ten? IU football needs a complete qb.

  22. I’m on board with giving Penix a shot at the helm now. However, while frustrating (especially in the second half), IU’s offense is not totally anemic. Plus a stud quarterback is not necessarily the answer to their ills. Perhaps it’s not a fair analogy, but Texas Tech went 7-6 and 5-7 in Mahomes’s 2 full years as a starter.Yes, I know the Red Raiders are not known for their defensive prowess. As for saving Penix’s eligibility, I think the biggest goof was basically wasting a game by having him play meaningless minutes against Ball State. It’ll be interesting to see how today’s game with Iowa goes. If the second half offensive woes continue, it would definitely be nice to see if Penix can give IU a shot in the arm.

  23. Redshirt for Penix should be non factor in IU football situation. Recruit another qb or two over the next two or three years. If IU football can’t do that they will never be any good anyway.

  24. t, I agree red-shirt should not be a factor for playing Penix. If he is as talented as coaches have said, thinking he would be at IU for five years is ridiculous. He went to an academic HS and has already got classes in this Spring and Summer. Why would he stick around after graduation if he is as talented as coaches think? He will have graduated by his fourth year and possibly three years plus a semster. As much as I believe in coach Allen I don’t understand this strategy with Penix.

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