No. 12 Indiana turns to backup QB vs. No. 16 Wisconsin
No. 12 Indiana is moving forward with a new quarterback but the same mindset heading into Saturday’s Big Ten Conference showdown at No. 16 Wisconsin.
The announcement that starting Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was done for the year with a torn ACL on Monday was tough for players and coaches to accept, but the Hoosiers (5-1) are prepared to rally around his replacement, sophomore quarterback Jack Tuttle.
“Setbacks and adversity is part of this life,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “We told the team, even last week, it is about how you respond to these challenges that define who we are.”
Penix suffered the injury during Indiana’s 27-11 win over Maryland last Saturday as he went to the sideline to finish a 21-yard run in the third quarter. He finished the year with 1,645 yards passing, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Tuttle went 5-for-5 for 34 yards in relief of Penix on Saturday. A four-star recruit from San Marcos, Calif., the 6-foot-4, 215 pound Tuttle transferred to Indiana from Utah before the start of the 2019 season.
“We still have full confidence that Jack Tuttle that he can come in and control the game and the pace and lead us to victory as well,” said IU running back Stevie Scott III, who rushed for three TDs in the Maryland win. “Jack is also a great leader and I feel like he’s definitely going to show and prove this week. I’m excited to see Jack play.”
Allen is counting on the rest of the team to step up and help Tuttle on Saturday. IU’s defense has posted a nation-best 16 interceptions and 18 takeaways on the season. The Hoosiers also rushed for a season-high 234 yards in the Maryland win, with Scott rushing for 80 yards and freshman Tim Baldwin rushing for 106.
“It’s about every group elevating one percent, every position group, every phase of the game,” Allen said.
Wisconsin (2-1) is eager to get back on the field after its game against Minnesota was canceled last week due to a COVID-19 outbreak within Minnesota’s program.
“With the way things finished out last week, we kind of chose to try to take advantage of a couple of days of getting little practice in, getting a little recovery in,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “Excited to start in earnest preparation for Indiana.”
After averaging 47 points in wins over Illinois and Michigan, Wisconsin’s offense took a step back in its last game, a 17-7 loss to Northwestern. The Badgers have been paced by quarterback Graham Mertz, who has thrown for 605 yards with eight TDs and three interceptions on the season, and freshman running back Jalen Berger, who has rushed for a team-high 180 yards on 6 yards per carry with one touchdown.
“Jalen has been good, and very new at it, a true freshman,” Chryst said. “The things that other people aren’t seeing, that’s the fun part about it, each week is a little bit different and there’s obviously a component of how do you prepare mentally as a team, the film study that goes into it.”
–Field Level Media