INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana junior quarterback Michael Penix said he’s confident he’ll be starting under center Sept. 4 when the Hoosiers open the season at Iowa.
“I’ll be definitely ready 100 percent,” Penix said on Friday at Big Ten Media Day. “I can’t wait to get out there with the guys.”
Penix is less than eight months removed from suffering the second torn ACL injury of his college career, which ended his season Nov. 28, 2020 against Maryland. But like before the start of the 2019 season, Penix has been diligent in his rehab. He began throwing and getting timing with IU receivers earlier this month and expects to be on the field for the start of fall camp in less than two weeks.
“I’ll be doing everything in fall camp except for live periods,” Penix said. “So I’ll be with the team.”
Indiana coach Tom Allen said they intend to be smart with Penix’s progression in camp leading up to the season opener. The return of Penix, who has passed for 3,258 yards and 25 TDs in his career, can’t be understated. IU has gone 10-2 the last two seasons with Penix as a starter and 4-5 without him under center.
“We have to rely on him,” Allen said. “He’s a mature young man. He’s been here he understands his body, he’s got to communicate with us how he feels.”
Indiana senior wide receiver Ty Fryfogle said Penix has looked the same since resuming throwing the football earlier this month. Penix was able to establish early chemistry with some of the new receivers on the roster, including FSU transfer D.J. Matthews and Texas A&M transfer Camron Buckley
“He got back to himself quick and now he’s moving around so I’m very excited,” Fryfogle said.
Penix also recently spent a summer weekend as a counselor at the Manning Passing Academy. Fryfogle said Penix has already passed down some lessons he learned from Peyton and Eli Manning, about working until perfection.
“We’ll be running a route and I feel like it’s a perfect route and he’ll be like, let’s do that again, I didn’t do the drop right or I didn’t do something right,” Fryfogle said. “Whatever he wants to work on, we’re good with it.”
Allen said the Hoosiers are at above a 90 percent vaccination rate for COVID-19 heading into fall camp.
“We feel good about that, but the bottom line is it’s a decision they have to make,” Allen said. “Life is about choices and you have to understand the consequences for the choices, the good and the bad.”
Allen said the high vaccination rate will allow IU to go through camp without stricter protocols such as daily COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. He said he chose to get vaccinated himself due to his duties of coaching on the field and recruiting.
“I felt like I couldn’t do my job without having it,” Allen said. “To be able to go where I need to go, do what I need to do, be able to be in this environment and go out and recruit.”
BUCKET SET TO RETURN
Purdue coach Jeff Brohm said he’s looking forward to the return of the Old Oaken Bucket game against Indiana, which was canceled last year due to COVID-19 issues involving both rival teams. Purdue will host IU on Nov. 27 at Ross-Ade Stadium.
The Bucket currently resides in Bloomington after Indiana beat the Boilermakers 44-41 in double-overtime in the last meeting between the two schools on Nov. 30, 2019.
“It’s something that your players who are going to know each other, whether they played middle school together, high school, your fans who may live across the street from each other are going to know it, and you want to get bragging rights when the season is over,” Brohm said.
“There’s normally a lot riding on the game beyond bragging rights and we look forward to that tradition every year.”
GETTING BACK TO Indy
Four-time defending Big Ten champion Ohio State have made trips to Lucas Oil Stadium for the Big Ten Title game a yearly tradition. So the Buckeyes felt at home with Big Ten Media Days being on the turf of the field where they have celebrated recent championships.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day was asked Friday what it will take for the Buckeyes to return to Lucas Oil Stadium for the Big Ten title game on Dec. 4, and possibly, the CFP title game on Jan. 10, 2022.
“When you look at the youth that we have at linebacker, you look at our youth at quarterback, that’s something that we got to make sure we’re doing a great job of addressing,” Day said. “But we also have really good players around them. We have really good depth on defense in the D-line, our secondary has more depth now than it’s had in a while and then on offense I feel look we have pretty good depth at all the other positions.”