Ahead of IU football’s season opener against Penn State on Saturday, IU head coach Tom Allen revealed the Hoosiers’ team captains. Among them was sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr.
When Penix walks to the middle of the field at Memorial Stadium before kickoff, he’ll be joined by senior offensive lineman Harry Crider and junior linebackers Micah McFadden and Cam Jones. Senior defensive back Marcelino Ball was also named a captain, but he’ll miss the entire 2020 season after suffering a torn ACL.
Penix displays a calm, steady demeanor, and the program has fed off his confidence while preparing for its nine-game season that will solely feature Big Ten Conference opponents.
“You earn that through time, through trust, through work ethic, through practice, through different experiences,” IU offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan said Monday during a Zoom call. “I think that’s what gives players confidence in their quarterback. But certainly, it starts with them believing in themselves.”
Sheridan said the confidence he exudes in practice is similar to that of former IU quarterback Peyton Ramsey. After Penix missed a majority of last season due to injury, Ramsey led the team to four victories and a trip to the Gator Bowl.
Last year, behind the play of their quarterbacks, the Hoosiers posted eight wins for the first time since 1993.
“Anytime your quarterback believes in himself first and foremost, I think it gives the rest of the guys the belief that they can go out and do their job,” Sheridan said.
Ramsey is no longer with the team after transferring to Northwestern, and Penix is healthy. The team will lean on its quarterback’s conviction this season. But Penix didn’t play against Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan or the University of Tennessee in 2019.
He’ll prepare this week for only his second start against a ranked team. But both Allen and Sheridan were quick to reiterate that for Penix and the team, this is just another game.
“From the time he’s been here, I don’t think the moment’s ever been too big for Mike,” Sheridan said. “Obviously, that’s a great quality to have in your quarterback. I think he’s excited.”
Penix enters this season with just six career starts. He’s thrown for 1,394 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. However, he’s a third-year player and brings a veteran presence to the team while he looks for an opportunity to elevate his play against one of the toughest opponents IU will face all season.
“Well he’s played in some big games for us for sure,” Allen said. “Not as many as he will before it’s all said and done. But he has a natural poise to him that is extremely evident when you put him in these environments. And it never seems to be too big for him. So I expect that he will rise up and play at a high level on Saturday.”