BLOOMINGTON – Indiana coach Tom Allen announced Monday starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is “week to week” with a separated AC joint in his throwing shoulder.
“Surgery is not necessary at this point, so the rehab process has already begun, and he will be working through that on a daily basis,” Allen said.
A typical recovery time for an AC joint separation can take up to six weeks, putting the remainder of Penix’s season in jeopardy. If so, it would be the fourth season-ending injury in four years for Penix, who has been unable to make it through a full season healthy. He missed spring practices in 2021 while rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered Nov. 28, 2020, against Maryland.
Penix recovered in time for fall drills but didn’t look comfortable in game action when the season began in September, throwing a career-high three interceptions in a loss at Iowa and three more interceptions against Cincinnati.
There was hope Penix had turned a corner after throwing for 373 yards in a win at Western Kentucky, but he misfired on nine of his first 10 attempts Saturday at Penn State. He finished the game 10-of-22 for 118 yards with one interception before going down with the shoulder injury in the third quarter as he was tackled attempted to scramble out of the pocket.
Backup quarterback Jack Tuttle will likely be IU’s starter for the foreseeable future. The Hoosiers have a bye this week before hosting No. 11 Michigan State for Homecoming on Oct. 16 (noon, TV TBD).
Tuttle completed 6 of 12 passes for 77 yards with one interception in relief of Penix on Saturday night. He’s passed for 564 yards in three seasons at IU with three touchdowns and two interceptions and a career 57.4 completion percentage (58-of-101).
Tuttle went 1-1 as a starter for the Hoosiers last season, winning at Wisconsin and losing to Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl.
“Very confident in Jack,” Allen said. “Even in preseason, I mentioned that we have two proven starters on the team. As you saw him come into the game on Saturday, just very decisive in his decision making both to throw and to run and just his maturity over time and his experience he got last year to be able to lead us on the road at Wisconsin and just showed a tremendous amount of toughness to play through an injury in the bowl game.”
Allen also announced Saturday sophomore running back Tim Baldwin has entered the transfer portal. Baldwin, the No. 2 back behind starter Stephen Carr for much of the season, did not carry the ball against Penn State. For the season, Baldwin had rushed for 103 yards on 28 carries. Baldwin had a critical fumble at the 3-yard line against Cincinnati and nearly lost a fumble the following week at Western Kentucky.
“There’s no doubt it effects our depth, without question,” Allen said. “Other young men are going to have to step up. You have several in that room. David Holloman is a freshman, as I mentioned, (who) will have opportunities to be able to step into that role. Charlie Spegal another young man who is here, in his second season, understands our system, big, strong young man.”
Allen said the bye week will be spent focused on evaluating and fixing an IU offense that has yet to score a touchdown in two Big Ten games. The Hoosiers (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) were blanked 24-0 over the weekend at No. 4 Penn State, suffering their first shutout since losing 58-0 at Michigan during the 2000 season.
“You have coordinators, yes, in all three areas, and they are responsible for the game plan, the execution of that game plan,” Allen said. “But ultimately it’s my responsibility.”
Allen doesn’t anticipate the injuries to safety Raheem Layne, cornerback Reese Taylor and cornerback Tiawan Mullen to be long-term issues. But Allen said all three secondary starters will rest and rehab during the bye week in hopes of resuming practice the week leading up to Michigan State.
A season that began with great promise for IU, with its first preseason ranking since 1969, has yet to fulfill those expectations. But players believe there is still time to turn fortunes around.
“This is where we’re going to decide how we want the season to end up,” IU wide receiver Ty Fryfogle said. “A lot of guys have got to look at themselves in the mirror and just figure out what we can do going forward.”