Hoosiers have confidence in new QB Tuttle

In his first media appearance as Indiana’s starting quarterback, Jack Tuttle wasn’t giving much away.

Asked about a quote from IU offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan, who said the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder can move a little better than most think, Tuttle was intentionally mum.

“I guess we’ll keep that a secret for now,” Tuttle said, laughing.

If the Wisconsin defense was watching, they didn’t learn a whole lot about the San Marcos, Calif., native through Wednesday’s press conference. Maybe they noticed the full beard he’s sporting. Or maybe just the confidence the former Elite 11 quarterback prospect has always had.

The latter was displayed when another trait was raised, a question noting that IU coach Tom Allen had said Tuttle’s arm “pops.” Again, Tuttle just laughed.

“I just think it means I can throw the ball,” Tuttle said, “and we’re going to be all good.”

Tuttle’s teammates were more than willing to back up that last sentiment.

The No. 10 Hoosiers (5-1) have been able to ride the strength of Michael Penix Jr.’s arm to this point, but there seems to be supreme confidence that Tuttle can pick up where Penix left off.

They’ve seen him do it in practice.

“A great throw from him is like an everyday thing,” IU running back Tim Baldwin said. “I have 100 percent confidence he’ll do a great job.”

“We expect him to do his job,” offensive guard Dylan Powell said, “and we have all the faith in the world that he’s going to come in and do whatever he has to do to help us win.”

Even IU’s punter, Haydon Whitehead, had an observation as Tuttle warmed up to enter last Saturday’s game with Maryland, shortly after Penix went down with what turned out to be a torn ACL.

Whitehead turned to a couple of teammates and said, “Gee, he throws a tight spiral, doesn’t he?’”

“That’s one thing I noticed, how well he throws the ball,” Whitehead said. “I know coming out of high school he was an Elite 11 quarterback, so there is no doubt he can play when his number is called.”

Tuttle has a pedigree. He has an arm. He also has the respect of his teammates, which predates his 5-of-5 effort versus Maryland.

It’s because of his work ethic. The line that Peyton Ramsey used over and over again in 2019, that he prepares every week like he’s the starter, is a phrase Tuttle used Wednesday.

Like everyone else, Tuttle had no idea how seriously Penix was hurt after his 21-yard run. Like everyone else, he hoped Penix was OK once he crumpled to the turf, out of bounds. There was no profound realization of what was upon Tuttle. He was just a backup quarterback, doing his job, as he went in a game.

Now, he’s just a starting quarterback, facing Wisconsin, preparing like he’s the starter, again.

Aside from his arm strength, Allen also noted Tuttle’s work ethic. He was the first player to arrive for a walkthrough in preparation for Maryland, even though the hope was that Tuttle wasn’t playing.

“For me, it’s just I want to do every single thing I can for my team,” Tuttle said. “I care about them so much and I want to give everything I have for them. And that’s just where that comes from, to be honest, the love I have for them. And it’s LEO.”

At the same time, Tuttle is a competitor. If he wasn’t going to surpass Penix and — at one time — Ramsey on the depth chart, he was going to learn from them.

Of course, Tuttle has sat behind Penix this season, the Big Ten’s current leader in passing yards. But Ramsey, now the starter at Northwestern, set an example in how he subbed in for Penix multiple times in 2019.

“Both of them are phenomenal quarterbacks and I’ve learned a lot from them,” Tuttle said. “How they watch film, I’ve implemented that into my routine. Some of the things they do on the field, whether it be how they take their pre-snap routine, things like that, I took from them.”

Even if Penix and Ramsey aren’t there to take snaps, Tuttle knows he can continue to lean on those around him. He has one of the Big Ten’s best receiving duos in seniors Ty Fryfogle and Whop Phiylor, plus an All-Big Ten tight end in Peyton Hendershot. He has a willing pass protector in running back Stevie Scott, who can also punch in touchdowns in the red zone.

Tuttle doesn’t need to play outside of himself.

His very confident self.

“We’re practicing extremely hard this week and we’ll be ready to go,” Tuttle said. “Really excited. Looking forward to playing loose and having some fun on Saturday.”

19 comments

  1. I am excited to see Tuttle play although having Penix playing at his best would be the way to go. Tuttle could surprise people and it will be good to watch him do just that. He throws the ball very well and we will just have to see how he deals with defensive pressure and the overall pressure of he game. Last year IU had an experienced QB to turn to and this year they have a very talented QB to turn to.

    This is a very tough ball game for Tuttle to become a starter. The team will be challenged but I think they will respond. It is tough to know the type of team they really are since they have played so few games. Will Wisconsin be fresher and play hard or will IU’s game experience make the difference. I will take IU’s game experience and expect a Hoosier win.

  2. Getting ahead of self…However, big ten ADs will probably meet to change 6 game rule if OSU has another cancelled game. IU hasn’t won 7 games yet but if they play 8 games and win 7 the argument could be made credit should be given to a coach and staff plus program that successfully handled COVID situation well.

  3. I agree with t. Consideration should be given for wins & losses, AND successfully handling of Covid situation. There are still at least three games yet to be played by IU & the Covid bug might yet bite them but I hope not. Up to this point in the season I have been impressed that Indiana has not had widespread Covid amongst their program. Keep up the good work managing this pandemic & keep improving on the football field. Indiana Univ football has been an enjoyable distraction this fall. The team has a chance to make things extremely special with a win in Madison this Saturday. Go IU! Beat the Badgers!!

    1. Double exactly about avoiding COVID cancellations! Team discipline counts, and not just in the sense if staying home on the trap play.

  4. I have high expectations for J.T. and expect him to land in a very productive way on the national stage vs Wisconsin along with IU. The reason I say this is because J.T. is a qb that has not played hardly any but has been around for a while and in his home; IU system. He has waited for his opportunity and he has really very good ability and has the look of a big time qb.
    IU defense will have to come up big and will be reason if IU wins game.

  5. After watching the composure and accuracy of Tuttle in closing out MD, there is no reason to think it won’t continue. Realistically, Tuttle, especially with a likely shorter, more controlled pass agenda should provide IU with a more effective, time consuming offense.
    ‘Food for thought category’: Tuttle was 6-6. For the season, IU has COVERED in EVERY GAME, and BIG. On a per game basis, the Hoosiers have surprised the oddsmakers at an 11.58 points per game clip. This game is +14. IU has been, and continues to be the most undervalued team in the country. I expect IU’s 3rd down conversion rate to be much better in this and in the game against Purdue. Quite frankly, there’s only one motivated team in this week’s matchup…it’s not Wisconsin. IU 27 -Wisconsin 21.

  6. Though I agree that Penix is a major cog in the wheel for IU football wins I haven’t given him as much credit nor do I think he was the primary reason for 5 wins though he had as much to do with 5 wins as anyone else.

  7. The final drives against PSU changed the season. Big play-making ability is the difference. I’m not sure why Penix is so undervalued here. He’s not just a bigger arm. He proved to have great field vision, poise in the pocket and uncanny accuracy. He was placing/completing throws where margins of error were extremely thin.
    I expect far more 3 and outs. I expect passes not having enough zip to find narrow windows. I expect far less poise and “it factor.”

    We’ll be fortunate to win another game.

    1. I agree with you about Penix but don’t sell Tuttle short until we see more of him in the remaining games. Penix has mechanics to clean up but he has a presence on the field and in the locker room that shouldn’t be downgraded. Tuttle has a chance to show he has what it takes to push IU into the win column the rest of the season. Penix has the “it” factor and we will see if Tuttle has “it”. I don’t know the answer and will look to the Wisconsin game as Tuttle’s first test to answer our questions.

    2. Wrong! Penix was off on virtually every throw against MD. Tuttle was 6/6. Stay focused, play extremely hard on each and every play, GO IU!

      1. No quarterback brings it every game. The top Heisman candidate didn’t look to sweet against us. Was that all IU…or was he just a bit off?

        But to deny Penix his credit is silly….He has put an improving team over the top. We’ve been to the cusp against good teams before. But we’ve never had the qb who makes the big plays when they are absolutely essential (certainly never in my memory of the program).

        Ramsey could go 6 for 6 in Dunk & Dink Land. It’s fine against mediocre teams or to keep you in games. But could he deliver the rare ball only of the truly gifted? And can Tuttle demonstrate the same confidence in pressure-packed situations and 3rd downs? Can he find the same decision making, zip and the narrow windows of Michael Laser Pen-IX?

  8. I just watched Tuttle’s recent interview. He kept his answers brief, but I sensed I was watching a young man filled with a quiet confidence who has a chip on his shoulder. He got screwed over by Utah, transferred and got stuck behind two of the best QBs in IU’s history. But you know a young man who received offers from the top FB schools in the country while in HS, and one who was a part of the Elite 11, must have a burning desire to prove himself on the field. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but after watching his interview, I think he’s going to do a great job on Saturday. And I also think that his offensive teammates are going to play a little extra hard, and a little extra smart to help him be successful. I think his teammates are offended being 14-point underdogs and not being elevated in the rankings after beating Maryland.

    I’d love to see Tuttle go deep on his first play of the game and then just slice Wisconsin up for the remainder of the game.

  9. J.T. should be a high level second willing and able/capable second string qb…as good as there is at second string replacing first string qb not only in big ten but in all of college football.

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