Penix believes Hoosiers are ready to ‘shock the world’

Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. didn’t just miss his share of games last season.

It could be argued he missed many of the games on the Hoosiers’ 2019 schedule.

Ohio State, sidelined. Penn State, sidelined. Michigan, sidelined.

When he was reminded of that fact Wednesday, he smiled. The redshirt sophomore, bulked up to nearly 220 pounds to stave off the injuries of seasons past, wasn’t necessarily going to admit disappointment about missing matchups with the perennial top dogs in the Big Ten East. Everything happens for a reason, he said. He’s just looking forward.

But when those missed chances were placed against the backdrop of what the 2020 schedule will offer — early — there was a glint of excitement in Penix’s eye. PSU? IU gets them the first week of the season. Michigan, just two weeks later. And if Penix can stay healthy — and that’s admittedly his No. 1 priority — then OSU awaits two weeks after that.

“I’m ready to play them this year, and we are definitely going to come out and dominate,” Penix said. “The team is definitely ready for these big games. And I feel like we are going to shock the world. I know we are.”

The quarterback whose potential excited the Hoosiers enough to overtake incumbent starter Peyton Ramsey in the fall of 2019 has another shot at expressing those talents against the top teams in the conference. In 2020, those chances come right away.

The fact that it’s Nick Sheridan’s first year at the helm of the offense only adds to the intrigue. And the leadup to the season, amid a pandemic, has undoubtedly been odd for Penix and his teammates. But there are high hopes for what this offense, led by the strong-armed lefty, can produce.

“I told the group today, I like the group that I have. I’m excited about them,” Sheridan said. “They have a good look in their eyes, and they want to be a really good group and help the team win in any way that they can.”

Last season, under now-Fresno State head coach Kalen DeBoer, IU’s offense was prolific. The Hoosiers scored 30 or more points in nine of their 13 games. IU returns three out of its five starting offensive linemen, All-Big Ten receiving options in Whop Philyor and Peyton Hendershot, and two productive rushers in junior Stevie Scott and sophomore Sampson James.

Penix was a big part of the equation, when healthy. In six games, the Tampa, Fla., native threw for 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns. His signature performance was at Michigan State — in a return from a shoulder issue — completing 33-of-42 for 286 yards and three scores. In that game, Penix completed 20 straight, a school record and the second-longest streak in conference history.

“One of Michael’s biggest strengths as a player is the game is slow for Mike,” Sheridan said. “He makes quick decisions. He’s able to see the field. It doesn’t take him long to grasp concepts.”

The progression of Penix’s redshirt freshman season was quickly stunted after a near-win at MSU.

He was knocked out of the Maryland game two weeks later. Ramsey was clutch in relief, pulling out a victory in College Park before claiming a historic win at Nebraska a week after that. Penix had just one more game at the helm, home versus Northwestern, when his season was ended by a right sternoclavicular joint injury.

Going into the offseason, IU coach Tom Allen’s stated goal for Penix was to add muscle mass. Penix did that. He reported to spring practice weighing 218 pounds, an increase of about 16 pounds from his redshirt freshman season.

“Just more weight so I can be able to embrace hits, you know? The main thing, main focus for me, is just staying on the field,” Penix said. “Gotta be out there for my guys. Just find ways to make plays all the time. Make the smart play, as well, to make sure I’m protecting myself so I’m there for the team.”

He’s more than just potential, because IU’s coaching staff has seen Penix at his best. But what he can bring in the biggest games, against the OSUs, Michigans, and PSUs, week in and week out, remains a question for Penix to answer.

With nine games in nine weeks, all versus Big Ten foes, Penix’s ability to stay healthy and perform will be put to the test.

“Obviously, it’s pretty well-documented how tough and how stiff that competition is in those games, as it is in all the games we are going to be playing this year,” Sheridan said. “The opportunity is maybe never been greater, honestly, because of the difficulty of the schedule. It’s how you embrace it and look forward to the competition. That’s the reason you coach and play in the Big Ten. Mike’s no different than any of the other guys.”

Penix is certainly embracing the challenge ahead of the Hoosiers, starting with PSU four weeks from now. But Sheridan did pump the breaks slightly, pointing out IU just put pads on for the first time Wednesday. There is a long way to go.

But despite the stop-and-start nature of this spring and summer, Penix feels like the Hoosiers are ready. He has been able to find time to stay connected with his teammates this offseason. That steady work, he thinks, should put them in position to perform.

Sooner rather than later. Against the best in the league.

“We’ve been working out, staying together, finding ways to get together, making sure we stay in sync, every day,” Penix said. “We were always ready. We made sure, whenever this time came, we were going to be ready.”

28 comments

  1. They really need to use the heck out of Hendershot and establish a hard running game. If they do that, it opens up the field and could be a fun year. Ball getting inured is a huge loss. I cannot wait for the Penn St game!

    1. JPat I cannot agree more with your words. I’ve been an IUFB follower for 7+ decades and I’ve never had a more positive outlook about the program than I do for this season. The team has decent depth at every position. But MP has to stay healthy, as he is key. Sheridan stated the intangible I’ve been trying to pick out about Penix, the game plays slow in front of him. A big +.
      HOOSIERS!

  2. It is good to hear the player excited and expecting to shock the football world this season. They got a taste of success last season and despite not beating any of the “big” boys they did play PSU close last year in their stadium; winning the PSU game would shock the B1G football world and start the season off the right way.

  3. I suppose Penix can’t have two years of injuries like Ramsey did and then not get injured this year. This is the season IU needs to break through and it can’t happen if the players don’t believe they can do things to shock the football world. IU players need to use their experience from last year and build on it this year.

    IU has brought in some players in the last two years that have shown they can compete against the B1G. If other teams can be excited about their 4 star players coming in then IU should expect their higher rated players to come in and play at a high level. IU’s DL showed against, what was called a talented TN OL that they can compete against the better teams but need to be able to finish games.

    H4H, I feel bad for you that you can’t be excited about an 8-4 season and the returning talent for this year leading to high hopes for this year. You miss out on the joy that comes from 8-4, yes I know who they beat and didn’t beat, and a rosy outlook for 2020. I understand the Hoosier may not live up to the promise of this season but for now I enjoy the prospects.

    1. Gotta defeat some stronger teams, V13. Until that happens, it’s simply a mid-major team doing what it can to look the part in a division of a football conference it’s only briefly shown to belong in 100 years.

      1. I am with you that IU needs to win the games against stronger teams this year but MN in the fourth year of their coaching staff showed after a better season in 2018 they could take the experience and play at a higher level in 2019; IU needs to show that this year.

  4. It is weird how many of the geriatric crowd on this site are so wildly pessimistic about the team. Yes, the schedule is brutal, but there is no doubt this is the most talented team since the Mallory years. Penix is an obvious NFL talent. He is more accurate than Nate Sudfeld, light-years more athletic and has a stronger arm. True he could get injured again. But he looks the part this year while the last 2 years he looked frail. I think the staff did all they could to get him physically ready for the Big Ten. The defense has just about everyone back and brought in a potential NFL player in Jovan Swann from Stanford. In addition, just wait to see the crazy athletic kid, Damarjhe Lewis. He’s a 6’3″ 300 lb EXPLOSIVE athlete. He turned down Auburn, Miami, Tennessee, Penn State, and a bunch more top schools to go to IU. IU NEVER gets this level of defensive tackle. He alone will make our defense better because he can pressure a QB from right up the middle. Especially when he can rotate in with Sio Nofoagatoto, Jerome Johnson, Demarcus Elliot, and Jovan Swann. Our offensive line as a unit is probably the weakest group but our 2 starting tackles are both NFL caliber. And TA brought in a quality lineman transfer in Dylan Powell who has started at Stanford. This team should be better than the 8-4 team from last year and is worth getting excited about. Even for the old, depressed trolls on this site- hope my life doesn’t devolve into IU football internet troll once I retire- truly sad! I look forward to a great season and will probably check in again in a few weeks- this site is best enjoyed in small doses.

    1. 123, I’m firmly embedded in the geriatric crowd but hold your evaluation this team is different from the past 2+ decades. If you play in the B1G and think an 8-4 record is simply folly a fluke or simple minded then troll your ass off. I like and agree with the bold thoughts of folks like you, v13 and Penix.
      HOOSIERS!

      1. The guy behind center for most of those glorious wins against 1-11, 2-10…and a slew of other approx. .200 teams while we were conquering “the world” is now at Northwestern.

        Outside of the usual Murderer’s Row of OSU, Michigan and PSU, I doubt you’ll find a season in IU history where the victories were amassed against teams with cumulative lower final results/records (including the beyond sorry non-conference opponents).

        Penix still unproven …..though ready to shock the world with Popeye muscles on a frame yet to hold up for more than a couple games.
        Tuttle still unproven/untested while rarely given any chance to get comfortable. The 2019 season of no folly or fluke contained a large sample of substandard teams (I’m being kind) in which he could have gained confidence and experience. The “breakthrough” record was simply too important than giving Tuttle some experience.

        Two unproven quarterbacks (one unproven in durability and the other barely wet behind the ears and given little chance to mature last season) now poised to “shock the world” in front of zero fans and conference only opponents?

        Allen’s boy was always Ramsey…..until the plan was to put him on the pine for his senior year. This was the year all of that loyalty to Ramsey was going to provide an insurance policy on the bench in case “Mr. Shock the World” wasn’t going to snap his fingers and be as shockingly fabulous as advertised …Ramsey was having none of it.

        1. Top-10 List: Top 10 Similarities between Toddlers at Daycare Center and Contesting Candidates in a Presidential Debate.

          10. Attention is a battle over the loudest screamer.
          9. Frozen puffed-out lower lip is the pouting norm of early ego development.
          8. All function better if given naps and “time-outs.”
          7. Toddlers and candidates are never wrong. They just are.
          6. 90 minutes is too long to not address a possible leaky diaper.
          5. The one piece of furniture in the room with sharp corners is going to be located and is still a hazard.
          4. Chaos and denial ensues when enforcement of rules is presented.
          3. You’ll here many territorial claims of “My Pillow!” Some will even claim they invented the nap.
          2. Flatulence creates momentary breaks in thought processes.
          1. The bully keeps bragging about the size of his various toys. Sharing is a rigged system.

          1. I’ll say this, you write better comedy than what’s offered on late night ‘comedy’ (subjective) shows.

    2. 123, I am in the age group you are talking about but mentally I still feel like I am in my 30s, maybe it why I am optimistic about this team. You make very good points about this team and I can’t wait to see Lewis on the field as he has the fast twitch explosion IU hasn’t had for years on the DL. Adding in Swann gives IU an experienced tested DL player to blend into the DL. IU’s DL this year has the potential to put real pressure on the QB and stop the run game. We have talented LBs and DBs that could disrupt B1G offenses.

      The offense has talent that can play in the NFL which I hope leads to an offense that challenges B1G defenses. We have receivers that can stress defenses both inside and outside. Our RBs may not be at Howard or Coleman’s level but they are very good RBs that could surprise people this year.

      The STs have players in place that are outstanding kickers and enough depth on the team to have talented players on the cover teams this year. The change in ST coaches could bring in a renewed focus on STs and a new enthusiasm from the players.

      1. Our Senate is led by a mafia contingent of geriatrics…The next president is a coin flip in dementia between 2 prehistoric fart makers who scream and cast slurred insults louder than a geriatric Bob & Tom show fighting over the last cup of custard at the senior center.
        I would also like to know how old 123 actually is….? Is he ‘1,’ ‘2’…or barely ‘3’? Or is he 1+2+3 =6? …or is he 123 years old and the “geriatric” thing is an insult to our youth and experience?

        “I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience”
        Ronald Reagan

        Anyway, if you’ve followed IU football religiously through the last two decades or the last 50 years, you’re most likely either a zombie or someone made gray far too soon.

  5. I bet most of you could also write great movie reviews for films that haven’t been made.
    Puffery and forecasts…Puffery and forecasts.

    We’ll now very soon if the Superman cape fits Penix….Might just be a forever shelved Halloween costume. We’ve seen many of those through the years with IU Football.

  6. IU Football Hope. The question is…Hope or hope and despair? Hope and jubilation?
    Is the hope at a higher level this season or is it the traditional hope of IU football history? An analysis of IU football tradition will show there have been an alarming rate of hopeful IU football seasons? Some of the hope has lasted thru the pre big ten season (though a lot of wishful thinking). Other seasons hope lasted during the first game of season through first half and even through middle of third quarter depending on competition level.
    Conclusion: 2020 college football season is a mess due to the circumstances surrounding it. However, IU football program has some measured momentum though recognizing several coaching position changes (partial new position staff) and a couple player losses (most teams deal with player losses each year). Thinking back from first day of summer until now how fast time flies. In just a dozen weeks (short time) the 2020 IU football season will be written and take its place into IU football tradition and or folklore.

    1. t, you have described IUFB hope precisely and this year should be the year that football breaks the mold of the past hopes to show us we can believe in this team and future teams. I hope this team moves into the folklore of the 1967 football team that wen to the Rose Bowl against everyone’s predictions.

  7. Outside of the Chicago Cubs who now finally have their 2nd World Series in a 100 plus years, I’m not sure if there’s any other team other than Indiana Football whose “folklore” visits less than Halley’s Comet.

    I’m very superstitious and believe V13 could be right ….This could be the year. Why do I think he may be right? Examine the following statement:

    I hope this team moves into the folklore of the 1967 football team that wen to the Rose Bowl against everyone’s predictions.

    In addressing Scoop’s very own ‘t,’ V left off the ‘t‘ when he said “wen[ ] to the Rose Bowl.” Could it be a sign? I believe it is.

    If it happens, I’ll be glued to the tV.

  8. If all goes toward a good recovery or minimal downtime it could be evidence to open things up even more.

  9. Notre Dame president at WH event for SCOTUS nomination now positive. Utah senator now positive. Another staffer at WH now positive.

    It appears the White House is in a “deep state” of Covid. Could be many more because it’s still very early in the incubation period.

    And POTUS went to a fundraising event knowing Hope Hicks had tested positive? Wow. Many Wall Street geriatric tycoons possibly in a deep state of Covid?

    Might have to lock down the White House and the Senate majority like a senior center.
    Maybe send in a National Guard unit to keep the super spreaders locked in…?

  10. Not unlike someone sitting in a prisoner of war camp, I too am ‘optimistic’. Either I’ll be shot, die in the camp or be rescued. I think I can hear the allied tanks! Provided they can stay at near full strength, I have a gut feeling Penix might be right. They have a legitimate shot of beating Penn St in game one..then off to the races.

  11. Faster than a speeding Ramsey bullet against a northerly Northwestern wind. More powerful than a stinky locomotive at an Oaken Bucket game! Able to leap tall OSU linemen at a single bound to get injured!….?”

    Look! Up in the sky!
    It’s a very frail bird!
    It’s dropping end zone bombs from spiraling plane!
    It’s all Hoosier Football hopes in one player again!
    It’s SuperPenix!

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