And Penix’s return has the Hoosiers pondering huge once more.
On Monday, coach Tom Allen advised reporters that Penix’s restoration stays on schedule, a improvement that would assist the Hoosiers exceed final yr’s achievements.
“We have been fairly clear on our targets, have not shied away from it,” Allen mentioned Thursday. “We completed second within the Massive Ten East final yr. Our aim is to play within the Massive Ten championship and win the sport. There are lots of issues that must occur earlier than that happens.”
Replicating the breakout 2020 season will not be simple.
Indiana cracked the highest 10 for the primary time since 1967, posted its greatest convention document (6-1) in additional than a half-century and got here inside a whisker of enjoying for the third league crown in class historical past.
The Hoosiers additionally know the way crucial it’s to have a wholesome Penix on the sphere.
His nifty 2-point conversion run in time beyond regulation gave Indiana its second win over longtime powerhouse Penn State. Two weeks later, Penix threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns whereas snapping a 24-game shedding streak to Michigan. Two weeks after that, he practically led the Hoosiers again from a 28-point, third-quarter deficit at Ohio State solely to come back up one landing brief. Nonetheless, his sensational play transformed doubters into believers.
Then in November, Penix suffered a torn ACL in his proper knee — his third straight season-ending harm and the second time he had harm the ACL in the fitting knee. Whereas Indiana continued to win, the lingering offseason query turned Penix’s well being.
He’s anticipated to take part in Friday’s first apply — albeit with one restriction.
“We’re not going to sort out him,” offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan mentioned. “Mike isn’t going to get touched, so if we’re doing a staff drill that would doubtlessly put him in hurt’s approach, we’ll be aware of that. I feel any time you are coming off an harm and going into apply, you must watch out as a result of the amount and depth of apply is far increased.”
Sheridan mentioned artistic playcalling will help Penix restrict the massive photographs he has often taken from larger defenders in the course of the sphere. A revamped offensive line additionally seems able to preserving Penix upright.
Penix does not look like frightened. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound redshirt junior walked to the rostrum Thursday with out a hitch in his step or any detectable worry of struggling one other harm.
“What we need to show is that final yr wasn’t a fluke, that we’re a staff that may compete with anyone,” Penix mentioned. “We have now lots of guys who did not see the sphere loads final yr and who will make huge performs for us this yr We all know what we’re able to, and we should be nice.”
One newcomer who may wind up within the combine is Donaven McCulley, a 6-5, 200-pound freshman quarterback from Indianapolis.
With Penix restricted from contact, backup quarterback Jack Tuttle coming off shoulder surgical procedure and third-string quarterback Dexter Williams II sitting out after tearing an ACL in spring apply, McCulley could must take snaps.
“Donaven must be able to play yesterday,” Sheridan mentioned. “We have now to get him able to go, and that goes for each participant in that room. I be ok with the management and toughness in that room. We have simply obtained to ensure they’re all able to go.”
With the convention opener lower than a month away, the Hoosiers perceive there is no such thing as a time to waste.
“Numerous expectations,” Allen mentioned. “That is been the problem, is to go from believing, and I imagine we have now a staff that believes, to now anticipating a sure end result on recreation day.”