MADISON, Wis. — IU sophomore quarterback Jack Tuttle didn’t back down from pressure. Whether it was the weight of the opportunity or the Wisconsin pass rush, he stood tall and faced it head-on.
Tuttle wasn’t perfect, but he did exactly what his team expected of him. He was efficient in the Hoosiers’ 14-6 victory over the Badgers on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, completing 13 of his 22 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
In his first career start, Tuttle complemented a stellar defensive performance, which was enough for the team to earn its sixth win of the season.
“Jack made some really good throws, did a lot of really great things, but I really wasn’t surprised,” IU head coach Tom Allen said. “I believe in Jack. Jack’s a special player, a lot of talent.”
Both Tuttle and Wisconsin freshman quarterback Graham Mertz were subject to slow starts on offense. The first three drives of the game resulted in punts following incomplete passes by each signal-caller.
But with under a minute left in the first quarter, sophomore cornerback Tiawan Mullen knocked the ball loose from Mertz on a sack, and the Hoosiers recovered.
Tuttle led the offense on a 12-play, 53-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown throw to junior tight end Peyton Hendershot with 11:03 left in the second quarter. After the score, IU never trailed.
The Hoosiers only accounted for 107 yards in the first half but led 7-3 at halftime.
“The first drive was kind of feeling things out and seeing how they were going to play us,” Tuttle said. “And then after that, I felt like we got into a rhythm. There were some mistakes here and there, but we also took advantage of some opportunities.”
Tuttle opened the second half by completing two perfectly thrown passes. Following a Wisconsin roughing the passer penalty, he completed a deep shot to senior wide receiver Ty Fryfogle for 35 yards to the 21-yard line.
IU ran the ball on the next four plays before Tuttle put the final play of the drive into the left corner of the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Whop Philyor.
Both of the Hoosiers’ touchdown passes occurred with 11:03 left on the clock, and they were all they needed to close out the game.
Tuttle was sacked just one time, but it wasn’t due to a lack of pressure. On several passes, he stood firm in the pocket and delivered throws just as the Wisconsin defense delivered punishing blows in the backfield.
In the fourth quarter, Tuttle scrambled on third down and was hit in the head which sent him to the locker room. But he came running back to the sideline before the offense’s very next drive.
The Hoosiers then ran eight plays for 27 yards, draining just over four minutes from the clock. The next two plays for Tuttle were quarterback kneels after Wisconsin failed to score a touchdown while IU led by eight points.
No matter how many times he was knocked down, Tuttle was standing straight up, pointing to the sky with the football in his arm as the clock struck zero.
“Indiana is tough, plain and simple,” he said. “We’re a tough team. Every single guy on this team fights and will never stop fighting. And that’s really just the message that we sent today.”