Indiana Daily Student

Indiana football evaluates offense after quarterback Penix’s injury

<p>Then-sophomore quarterback Jack Tuttle runs the ball Jan. 2, 2021, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Indiana football head coach Tom Allen said during a press conference Monday that Tuttle will start in instead of Penix Oct. 16 against Michigan State.</p>

Then-sophomore quarterback Jack Tuttle runs the ball Jan. 2, 2021, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Indiana football head coach Tom Allen said during a press conference Monday that Tuttle will start in instead of Penix Oct. 16 against Michigan State.

Indiana football’s offense has seen better days. 

After posting its first shutout loss since the 2000 season against Penn State on Saturday, Indiana ranks 12th in the Big Ten for total offense with 1,718 yards and 11th in points scored with 119.

Junior quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is week-to-week with an acromioclavicular joint separation in his throwing shoulder. Junior quarterback Jack Tuttle, who replaced Penix, was sacked during his very first snap Saturday. 

Head coach Tom Allen said he has confidence in Tuttle after he started two games last year, and Tuttle has grown as a player and leader since then. Allen said Tuttle would start in relief of Penix if Penix still isn’t healthy for Indiana’s game against Michigan State on Oct. 16.

“I thought he gave us a spark, even Saturday,” Allen said. “Absolute confidence in him, and I’ve always felt that way.”

Freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley will assume the backup role and responsibilities in practice. Allen said he’s impressed with McCulley’s ability to learn the system and step in as a leader. 

On top of Penix’s injury, sophomore running back Tim Baldwin Jr. entered the transfer portal Monday. Allen said Baldwin is no longer with the team in the press conference.

Baldwin had the second most carries among running backs this season with 28. Running backs under Baldwin on the depth chart have a combined 24 carries for 119 yards this year.

Allen said running backs like freshman David Holloman and sophomore Charlie Spegal will need to step up to fill in for Baldwin, and dependability will be a factor for the group.

“This is a football team,” Allen said. “I want guys that are all in, bought in and ready to do whatever is necessary.”

Allen said the offense’s performance against Penn State came down to the team’s execution, scheme and play calling issues.

Running back play will be the main focus when the team evaluates its offensive performance, Allen said. Additionally, Indiana will evaluate quarterback play and red zone efficiency. 

In the running game, starting running back graduate student Stephen Carr rushed for an average of 3.8 yards per carry on the season. The new leading back behind Carr, junior Davion Ervin-Poindexter, is a walk-on who rushed for 57 yards and scored a touchdown on eight attempts.

Indiana’s quarterbacks have combined to pass for 1,107 yards, five touchdowns and eight interceptions. Those eight interceptions tie Indiana with Wisconsin for the most in the Big Ten. 

The Hoosiers’ offense has scored 10 touchdowns and three field goals in its 18 trips to the red zone. Five of those 18 trips went scoreless due to two failed fourth-down conversions, two turnovers and a blocked field goal.

Indiana’s coaching staff will look to put the past five games behind it during the bye week, only without its starting quarterback and second leading rusher.

“We’ll do a thorough analysis of our offense,” Allen said. “Where we’re at, what we need to address and how we can get where we need to be.”

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