Notes: Penix timeline, Christmas plans, and another award for Allen

If all goes as scheduled, Indiana coach Tom Allen expects to have Michael Penix Jr. back as the Hoosiers’ starting quarterback at the start of the 2021 season.

Penix, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear versus Maryland — the second such injury of his college career — shared a post-surgery picture on social media last week, seated in a wheelchair and giving two thumbs up. Allen confirmed Penix’s surgery was a “great success” and the next step is physical therapy.

“He knows he has to really attack this rehab right now, which he’s already started to do that, which is great,” Allen said. “The next step is to continue to progress with this and you get him back to movements. I don’t see him going through a full spring at all, but you get him to go where he’s able to go through the summertime and he starts throwing and all the different movements and out there with the receivers and all that.”

Penix was a second-team All-Big Ten selection this season despite missing the last game and a half to injury. He threw for 1,645 yards and 14 touchdowns, helping the Hoosiers beat Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State for the first time in a single season.

Unfortunately, the injury bug bit Penix again. He was held to just six games in 2019 because of various ailments, including a season-ending collarbone injury. He made six straight starts in 2020 before suffering a second tear of the ACL in his right knee. His true freshman season in 2018 was cut short by the first ACL tear.

“It’s so critical you rehab at a high, high level for this type of injury, so you maximize your performance when you do come back, have no issues with it, or any type of stiffness, or any lack of mobility in that knee,” Allen said. “That’s the expectation. Fully healed, fully ready to go, and fully ready to be our quarterback in 2021.”

Progressing from COVID

After missing the final two weeks of the regular season due to a COVID-19 pause, and now aiming toward a return in the Outback Bowl, Allen said his roster is progressing toward full health.

But it’s a phased return, as different players are on different timelines. The Big Ten previously implemented a 21-day protocol where players sit out for two weeks following a positive test and then return to practice but with continued screening, specifically for possible heart issues.

“We’ve got all these different guys in different phases, different things, what they can do, what they can’t do, whether they work with our medical staff, strength staff, certain parts of practice,” Allen said. “Some guys are doing certain things at practice but they can’t be there for the whole time, to get them eased back into it.”

Allen previously said the Hoosiers had 28 cases of COVID-19 within the program, including both players and staff. He expected to get all COVID-positive athletes back in time to play in the bowl game.

“We’re working together,” Allen said. “Feel good about it, a lot better than we were a week ago, for sure, but definitely not full strength yet.”

Christmas plans

Because of the ongoing pandemic, IU’s players and coaches aren’t going anywhere for Christmas.

But Allen and his staff plan to bring Christmas to the players inside the program’s bubble.

“We’re going to have a dinner together, got some presents for the guys, got a big ol’ Christmas tree,” Allen said. “We’re going to have a big ol’ Christmas get-together for our team.”

If players went home for Christmas, Allen said, it would require them to sit out a week for testing. That obviously won’t work given the Hoosiers are playing a bowl game on Jan. 2.

It’s just one of the many sacrifices these players have had to make to allow the 2020 season to take place. 

“Definitely not ideal, but it’s another thing people from the outside don’t understand what these guys have been through, and how much they have sacrificed and invested for this program and the university,” Allen said. “It’s a special thing, and it’s a special group, and I respect them so much for how they have handled this.”

Getting some reps

An advantage of bowl practices is getting increased reps for younger players before the season ends. While there are fewer days for that because of the condensed time between the end of the Big Ten season and bowl games, there has been some opportunity to get younger players reps.

Allen named freshmen offensive linemen Randy Holtz and Cam Knight as players who have benefitted from extra reps in practice recently. David Baker and Javon Swinton are freshmen receivers Allen has also wanted to get in the mix.

But one player Allen has really seen come along is redshirt freshman defensive end Beau Robbins. The Carmel alum, a former four-star recruit, has been working to bulk up for the Big Ten level. He’s currently listed at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds on IU’s roster.

“He’s starting to come into his own, and I think all the extra practices and all the work he’s done this year, it’s starting to show up,” Allen said.

Kiffin connection

Much can be made about the connections between IU’s coaching staff and Ole Miss, but there’s another connection between Allen – a former Rebel linebackers coach — and the Rebels’ current staff.

Allen was at Ole Miss with Chris Kiffin, the brother of current Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin. In fact, Allen and Chris Kiffin were neighbors, and that’s how Allen got to know renowned NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, their dad.

Monte Kiffin was the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-2008 and helped win the organization a Super Bowl along with Hall of Famers in Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, and John Lynch.

“He’d come and spend some time with us and we adopted some things conceptually, yes, there’s no question,” Allen said. “To me, it always made sense as he would explain it. The way he thought and things, it was like ‘Man, why did I never think of something like that?’

“He’s such a good person. He’s a kind, giving guy that just enjoys people and he enjoys ball.”

Munger Award

Yet again, the Hoosiers’ head coach is up for a national award.

Allen was named Wednesday as a semifinalist for the George Munger College Coach of the Year Award, which is presented yearly by the Maxwell Football Club. It’s the fourth national coach of the year award that Allen has been nominated for, as he’s a finalist for the Eddie Robinson, Paul “Bear” Bryant, and Bobby Dodd honors.

Allen is one of 12 semifinalists for the Munger Award, including:

Brent Brennan, San Jose State

Matt Campbell, Iowa State

Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina

Ryan Day, Ohio State

Luke Fickell, Cincinnati

Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M

Hugh Freeze, Liberty

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

Nick Saban, Alabama

Kalani Sitake, BYU

Dabo Swinney, Clemson

A voting period from Dec. 24-Jan. 2 will narrow the field to three finalists. Voting will then run from Jan. 3-12, and a winner will be announced on Jan. 15.

14 comments

  1. Hmmm….it isn’t my call and I respect his drive to continue football however, why is MP still planning to play on? Why would TA even entertain the idea of him playing again? Does he realize what MP’s future looks like physically in later years? Again, not meant as a slam to either, but I don’t see a future in the NFL with his physical problems. Wh6 not give it up? Just asking

    1. Cali: My sentiments as well. I like what Tuttle did against Wisconsin, provided he has another year of eligibility. C’mon. The guy is the highest ranked QB out of high school that’s actually made it to campus. The kid from Columbus, IN was a 5* but bounced around from ND, then Cinci,..then into oblivion.

    2. He’s a really focused, driven guy. Great family, too. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t come back even stronger.

  2. Cali and Brad, unless you have been one of the talented players or coached them it is hard to understand their drive. These types of players have a very strong drive to excel at what they are good doing just as starving artist stick it out if they have the talent to excel. I know this feeling because I was looking for my purpose in life when I left the Marines and entered IU. I knew I was interested in astronomy but something was missing for me. I found coaching and sacrificed a lot to keep coaching while in college and after.

    The drive to excel isn’t easy to understand and often doesn’t make sense when projected out into the future but a future without doing everything you can for your love in life isn’t a good future.

    1. V, understood. For me it would be difficult to be in TAs shoes knowing what MP means to the team but looking at what damage is being done to his body and the surgeries that await him down the road.

      1. Cali, ACL surgery today is not at all like it was in the past. The rehab is grueling, no way around that. But the short term and long term prognosis is excellent. So long term very little damage to his body. Certainly no long series of corrective surgeries.

        1. BP, I certainly hope so for his sake. I am not convinced two ACL surgeries means no lingering problems. They said after first surgery it would be stronger than before and he runs out of bounds and it tears. Hard to convince me he won’t experience issues continuing to play football.

  3. Through it all Jack Tuttle should be prepared and laser focused to be the number 1 quarterback at IU. Probably just a matter of time.

  4. I don’t disagree with any of you on this and t I believe Tuttle will focus on being the starting QB because none us no the future.

    Merry Christmas everyone either secular or religious as this season is about joy with a year with little joy for many. We have our family coming over, thankfully they all like in this small town, so we get to enjoy our granddaughters opening presents and having dinner with all of us. I hope each of you can have a Merry Christmas with the ones you love.

    1. Hope you had a great Christmas, V13. You have yourself a great New Year’s and 2021, too. Your steady faith in IU Football proved all of us wrong.

      And Happy New Year to the rest of the Scoopers and those often unappreciated HT journalists (Jeremy and Jon, particularly) who steward and bring us the best forum ever designed for Hoosier fan participation.

      Harvard for Hillbillies

      Indiana 24
      Ole Miss 7

  5. I was watching the Michigan IU football game this afternoon and it dawned on me that IU played Michigan how Michigan used to play IU. Get an early lead and then respond to any push the Hoosiers made to close the score. In the 2020 game IU did that very thing to Michigan.

    It got me to thinking what this season really did to help the Hoosiers next year and in the future. IUFB now knows, not hopes. but knows they can beat the teams that traditionally IU came up short defeating in the past. This change in thinking can lead to IU approaching next season taking on teams in a better way to win once again.

    I hope coach Allen does the same thing with the DC he did with the OC last year and hirer from within the staff – Jones is my choice. What do the rest of you think about what IU learned from this season.

  6. Jones would be a deserving guy for DC. And I think he will become IU football next D.C.
    IU has learned winning football equals fun leads to confidence leads to physicality leads to aggression leads to playing fast/speed leads to making plays both offensive and defensive leads to total commitment to make a particular play leads to execution leads to feeling good about themselves leads to they feel they can compete, matchup and win the game leads to committed to IU football led by coach Allen and LEO program image. Currently, IU football team has learned as a whole is feeling good about themselves and the future.

Comments are closed.