With a game under his belt, Tuttle leads Hoosiers into Outback Bowl

Jack Tuttle’s shortcoming at Wisconsin were jotted down in a notebook in the hours after the game.

Indiana’s redshirt sophomore quarterback watched the game film once with his coach, Nick Sheridan, and his fellow signal-callers. He may have watched it once by himself. But that was it.

Those notes on paper were all he needed, studying them every single morning before he went to practice. Mentally, he’d cross off items as he made the right read or the correct ball placement on a throw.

“It’s just OK, yeah, perfect, muscle memory, mentally, in my head. Then I’m good on it,” Tuttle said. “Then I’ll just rep it, going over it in the walkthroughs and stuff. Maybe if there’s a little mistake here and there in practice with the rep, I’ll go back with to the film and go over it and over it until it becomes, like I said, muscle memory.”

Tuttle, fresh off his first start, tried not to spiral into paralysis by analysis, which would have been possible, given the situation. His big win at Wisconsin was followed by two weeks of canceled dates with Purdue, robbing IU’s backup quarterback of a chance to hit a stride. But it was at least a way to get off on the right foot.

In a 14-6 win at Wisconsin, Tuttle gave the Hoosiers exactly what they needed. He turned the ball over just once. He made clutch throws for IU’s two touchdowns. What could have been a third, a deep bomb to receiver Miles Marshall, was right on the hands and dropped.

Now Tuttle heads into the Outback Bowl, the Hoosiers searching for the program’s first postseason win in 29 years, and IU’s offense matches up with an Ole Miss squad that scores nearly 41 points per game.

With a large swath of players recovering from COVID-19, it was difficult for Tuttle and his teammates to be in total contact during the last month or so. But as they filtered back to practice, the Hoosiers took advantage of their time. There was no school. Tuttle, the Kelley School of Business student, only had to worry about the notes in his game-film notebook for the last couple of weeks.

“We’re throwing before and after practice, the weekend, whenever we really have free time,” Tuttle said. “No Kelley, no SPEA for anybody. So we’re all just football, football, football.”

Again, Tuttle wasn’t trying to overanalyze his first start. He was just moving on to Ole Miss and the challenges an — albeit, somewhat porous — SEC defense will present. The Rebels have surrendered 40.3 points per game.

There should be opportunities to score, and the Wisconsin game at least provided Tuttle a chance to be a starter in a high-stakes game following Michael Penix Jr.’s ACL tear.

“Wisconsin has been the best defensive statistically in our conference this year, so it was no ‘warmup’ game, throwing him in there. I thought he did a nice job,” Sheridan said. “As far as opening up the playbook, I wouldn’t say there were things we held back. But we just tried to put him in the best position so he could execute at a high level and be confident.

“We recognize we’re going against an incredibly explosive offense. This year, for sure, they scored a ton of points. … I have great confidence in our team, and we’re going to have to play well together. We’re going to have to play complementary football.”

If the Hoosiers can establish the run,, as they were able to well enough versus Wisconsin, that takes one point of pressure off of Tuttle. If the defense can continue to force turnovers, then that could provide Tuttle and the offense some shorter fields to score.

But if Tuttle does have to let it fly, he does have an All-American in Ty Fryfogle at receiver. Whop Philyor will be playing in his home city of Tampa, Fla., as well. Tuttle can’t say he’s fresh off a win, given how long he’s had to wait to play another game. But having that game — and some notes to work with after — was a huge plus.

“I think that game has helped me improve so much and gain so much confidence,” Tuttle said. “As anyone would really say, now it’s not really about ‘Oh, first start’ or ‘Hey, it’s time to get your feet wet.’ Now it’s just time to play football, right? It’s improving from that game, prepping for Ole Miss, and just going to play football.”

Tuttle is certainly excited to do that. He may be considered a California kid, but as the son of a former Hoosier kicker, he’s certainly aware of history. He knows it’s been 29 years since IU has won a bowl game.

IU coach Tom Allen at least gave his players a say in whether to play a postseason game, given the ongoing pandemic and several other schools opting out. But given the Hoosiers’ season, and what winning a bowl game means, there was little doubt in their response.

“I feel like for almost all of us, it was never a doubt in our mind,” Tuttle said. “We want to play for Indiana and win this bowl game and finish off the season strong.”

Tuttle wasn’t the starter for last year’s Gator Bowl loss. Peyton Ramsey, another Penix backup, was. But Tuttle was there. He knows how that defeat factors into the Hoosiers’ mindset heading into the Outback Bowl.

All year long, the goal has just been to finish, and Tuttle wants to help the Hoosiers do that in the right way.

“It’s definitely pushed us to be better and grow and now we’re really looking at this bowl game opportunity as an opportunity to go win for Indiana,” Tuttle said. “It’s been, what, 29 years or something like that since we got a bowl game? We are fighting to do everything we can to make sure we are in the best possible situation for Saturday.

“And win.”

22 comments

  1. A solid, winning effort Saturday, in my opinion, should at least pencil him in as the starter next fall. I like his poise in the pocket. He has enough athleticism to sprint out of trouble. He throws a catchable ball. There seems to be a bit of reluctance to acknowledge his capabilities,..I don’t get it. This is an Indiana born kid. His dad even played for IU.

  2. Tuttle is a very talented QB and people that don’t see that are missing the boat. It will be interesting to see how Penix recovers by next Fall as IU is developing a strong QB room with players that are/can be one of the top QBs in the B1G. It is great to have Tuttle for next season to allow coaches and Penix to take the needed time to get him back.

    The past two seasons should upgrade the recruiting classes and having another very good year in 2021 will really boost recruiting for IU.

    I can’t wait to see how coach Peoples does in recruiting and improving the DL even more to get to the passer. I want to see the ILB recruiting get improved to keep the play at a high level in the B1G so getting a top LB coach is important this off-season. Will coach Wright create a pipeline at IMG bring in some of the better players there?

    There is a lot to be excited about for the 2021 season, so win the bowl game convincingly giving IU momentum into the 2021 season.

  3. Penix is why we’re here, folks….I honestly don’t understand why he isn’t given his due credit. Penix did everything to cook the magnificent dinner. I also believe we would have been playing in a bowl today had Penix not been injured. I think the committee downgraded us due to losing the “it factor” who orchestrated some clutch moments like never before seen in IU’s football history.
    Later, with little pressure on his shoulders and an already transformative season, Tuttle merely carried the serving plates full of delicious moments to the table.

    Indiana born kid means little to me as it pertains to quarterbacks….Jay Cutler and Rex Grossman…? Yikes. Please don’t tell me about “Indiana born” kids. Both of those overpaid and over-hyped qb’s were busts for the Chicago Bears. Grossman is why Indy got their Super Bowl. Cutler was a pouty-face disaster in the Windy City.

    Nothing against Jack Armstrong Tuttle, ‘The All-American Boy,’ but Penix’s heroics and clutch drives against Penn State, the dismantling of Michigan and the flurry of a comeback against OSU are the memories of 2020 which transformed Indiana Football.

  4. 500 yards passing against OSU…(likely 600 if not for some passes in breadbaskets which were dropped)…..Will any quarterback in the next decade throw for 500-600 yards against the Buckeyes? Will any quarterback in the next 50 years?

    Tuttle? Can we talk? Michael Penix outplayed the Heisman candidate who was on his home field.

    I get it…The ‘feel good’ story is about Tuttle…but jeez. Just because Penix isn’t on the team bus doesn’t mean you forget what he did and toss him under it.

    1. H4H, don’t forget I was pushing Penix when others were all for Ramsey and you were saying Penix was too fragile. I still think Penix is our best QB and one of the best in the country but I don’t down grade Tuttle’s ability either. Penix is what I call a special talent at QB that did great things this year. Tuttle is now IU’s QB and I believe he can be a great QB at IU.

      I haven’t heard many posters throwing Penix under the bus but are getting behind Tuttle as Penix is out for the rest of this year. I hope Tuttle has a big game tomorrow and sets IU for a great Spring heading into the 2021 season.

      Something of note is the SEC not being dominate in the bowl games getting crushed by Oklahoma, squeaking by Cincinnati when Georgia hit a long FG winning by one point, and NW handling Auburn right now. The SEC is great CFP committee is seeing how wrong they are and I hope IU shows them in a big way how wrong they were.

      1. I consider a very flippant attitude …or lack of appreciation for Penix’s accomplishments through most of this season as nearly the same as throwing him under the bus.
        The tone of some of the comments on this thread suggest a simple writing of him off.

  5. Obviously, some of the above regarding Laser Pen-IX is hyperbole.
    HARVARD CONFESSION #10, 754: I miss thinkaboutit’s presence on Scoop.
    He was sharp as sharp cheddar. Now the football threads (and hoops threads) have some holes and get closer to Swiss when we lose smart/sharp/thoughtful/kind contributors.
    Anyhow, there was no bigger fan of Penix than thinkaboutit.

    I’m not going to stand silent when flippant comments are made selling Tuttle as the only viable future quarterback for Indiana. I was a big doubter of Penix….I must come clean.

    No disrespect toward Tuttle or the rest of the roster responsible for a great season. Tuttle is a fine talent.

  6. Tuttle is an excellent college QB prospect and has been since he left HS. His tangibles are way above average for college QBs. But Penix has special arm talent and demonstrates excellent decision-making. So if he is healthy, and that’s a big if, he’ll be IU’s starting QB. But since the most valuable ability is availability, Tuttle may get more playing time over the next two seasons. If Penix remains healthy throughout 2021, he may choose to forfeit his last year of college eligibility and go to the NFL (why risk another serious injury?). Regardless, it’s an ideal situation when there’s not a big skill gap between the starting QB and the back-up.

    Ironically, the most gifted QB on IU’s 2021 roster may be the incoming freshman from Indy.

  7. What’s the thinking on guys making the call to not play in bowl games? True, it’s their right for whatever reason, injury concerns or prep for NF. but sure seems a knock on the team and the school. Yes the school gets a lot from a player but they offer a lot with education.

  8. I like Tuttle. The only thing strong about Penix is his left arm. For 3 years in a row the rest of him is china fragile. Making him less than he could be. PR proved again today he can stay in 1 piece and win. I think Tuttle is the same.

  9. Penix play was great but before injury he was streaky but was making some miscues. The defensive secondary and rest of defense was as important in keeping IU in games and opponents at bay until and even when Penix along with offense got going.

  10. The SEC, except for Alabama, and ND are showing they are showing they aren’t special teams like the CFP committee seems to think. I hope in the bowl game IU shows everyone they are better than those teams and got snubbed by the bowls and CFP committee. If they had their eyes open they would have seen NW played a depleted OSU team and didn’t play them as well as IU did. NW was a good team this year but were missing special offensive players.

    IU will show once again how good our team is and how good our players are. Of course putting IU in a lower tier bowl gives them the excuse that IU just beat one of the lower teams in the SEC. It won’t really matter how well IU plays because that excuse is already built in. I hope IU plays an intense complete game like they haven’t yet and set things up for the 2021 season.

  11. These Junior and Senior FB players opting out of bowl games is an unfortunate trend for College FB fans. But it’s here to stay. And whose can blame these young men for avoiding the risk of career-altering or career-ending injuries suffered in a meaningless bowl game? If you come from a dis-advantaged family and have the chance to make millions of dollars over the next few years, would you put your family’s financial future at risk to play in the Mayo Bowl? And on top of that, these stadiums are mostly empty, so these young men don’t get to enjoy the normal thrill associated with so many bowl games.

    I think generally, College Bowl games are in big trouble. They’re an endangered species and there will be fewer of them in the future. I could see a scenario where no more than ten bowl games involving FBS schools are played each year.

    1. The thing to do with the myriad of bowl games is to make them part of the regular season. First, eliminate the non-conf. schedule and start league play at week ne. Then, at the conclusion of conf. play, arrange the bowl games by league results- conf. winners play conf. winners (as part of a playoff) and then runners-up play runners-up, thirds play thirds, etc. Cellar dwellers stay home. That would be a lot more interesting than watching games against Wossamotta U. all September long every year.

  12. Yes, for those opting out of bowl games unless their is something to gain including their own personal goals …from their vantage point…it’s called putting life decisions into perspective and actually taking a very mature approach to decision making…something that outsiders and fans have a very difficult time doing.

  13. And yes the lesser the amount of bowl games the better….maybe 10 should cover it or 12 for the 12 days of Christmas.

  14. There would be too much money lost if they eliminated non-conference games. And remember, it’s the economies of the schools’ community that would be affected. Not to mention that those non Power-Five Conference schools depend on the big six-figure checks they get from playing the Power-five conference schools. That money funds a lot of those smaller schools’ athletic department budgets. A school that agrees to play Alabama on the road will get paid a ton of money to be the sacrificial lamb. That’s huge money for those smaller schools.

  15. PO, why would money be lost? I should have spelled it out, but the eliminated non-conf. games would be replaced by conf. games, and conferenes would seem like conferences again. Heck, the way it is now years can go by before some teams face off again. No doubt that the Southeastern North Dakota Tech at Bismarks of the college football world benefit greatly from Power Five paydays, but why does that matter to ayone but them? Unless the pre-conf. schedule is simply a (masked) charity ball.

    1. It matters a great deal financially to those smaller schools, and eliminating P5 opponents would greatly impact their ability to fund many of the non-revenue sports that exist at those institutions now. Why do P5 programs care? Because they often feed coaches and athletic administrators to P5 schools. At IU, John Pont, Lee Corso, Bill Mallory, Bill Lynch, and Terry Hoepner all came from small schools, and each felt a kinship with the universities that once employed them. It’s true in other sports as well, where smaller schools are often needed to fill out P5 schedules.

      The collegial atmosphere in higher learning extends to intercollegiate sports, and eliminating smaller schools as opponents would destroy those relationships. It will never happen.

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