Sophomore quarterback Grant Gremel was never a part of Indiana football head coach Tom Allen’s plans against Ohio State. But there he was last Saturday night, taking significant snaps in the second quarter.
Junior Jack Tuttle left the game with an injury in the first quarter and freshman Donaven McCulley replaced him. Allen said Gremel was inserted because McCulley was getting rattled, and the coaching staff wanted to see him progress through that.
“Next man up,” Allen said. “Not necessarily at all what any of us expected, for sure.”
Now that Tuttle is week to week with his injury, alongside starter Michael Penix Jr., Indiana will prepare both Gremel and McCulley to start against Maryland on Saturday. Allen said McCulley took backup repetitions in the week before the Ohio State game, and Gremel took snaps mostly in third-down passing situations.
“It’s a challenging situation for us to be in at this point in that room,” Allen said. “We have those guys that are there, and they’ve gotta be ready to play.”
McCulley took the majority of the team’s drop backs after Tuttle’s injury with 11 to Gremel’s five. McCulley had a single completion for 30 yards out of six attempts. Ohio State’s pass rush played a factor as well, picking up five sacks and pressuring Indiana’s quarterbacks on 47% of its pass attempts.
Allen said that the offensive line’s main issue is consistency and suggested other linemen may get involved in the future.
“It can’t happen,” Allen said. ”It was just isolated situations where one guy got beat one on one several times.”
Maryland is tied for sixth in the Big Ten in pressures with 114 and has 16 sacks. Indiana is second in the Big Ten in pressures allowed with 96 and has allowed 10 sacks. Nine of the team's total pressures this season came against Ohio State.
McCulley, who was sacked three times against Ohio State, took minimal reps prior to Michael Penix Jr.’s injury, Allen said. He was one of the scout team quarterbacks earlier in the season. Now, he’ll need to prepare to potentially start against Maryland.
“He’s a talented athlete that hasn’t played a lot of college football,” Allen said. “He’s a big kid. He’s tall and athletic. We just have to build things around what he is best at and allows him to be successful.”
Offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan said no two quarterbacks play the same way, and the team will adjust to put whoever is in at quarterback in the best position it can. Gremel has a greater level of experience with Indiana’s offense than McCulley, Sheridan said.
“When you’re not the starting quarterback, regardless of what your skill level is, what your experience is, it doesn’t matter,” Sheridan said. “You have to be prepared to play without a ton of reps.”