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QB Primer: Michael Penix is ready to lead Indiana into a new era

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The stats might not be eye-popping just yet, but the new quarterback is starting to heat up.

Penn State v Indiana Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Indiana felt confident moving on from Peyton Ramsey in favor of Michael Penix despite the latter having some injury issues in the past. After two wins to open the season, the Hoosiers are feeling even better about this decision, even with Ramsey winning his first two games as a Northwestern Wildcat. The redshirt sophomore Penix is the future of the program, and maybe things are finally coming around for No. 13 Indiana.

Penix was a three-star recruit in the 2018 class, but it looked like he could take over the starting job even as a redshirt freshman. Instead, injuries got in the way of consistent playing time, and Ramsey finished out his last year in Bloomington as the starter. After two weeks into 2020, it seems like Indiana’s offensive ceiling is much higher under the dual-threat southpaw, and it makes sense why the younger quarterback was the preferred option.

Penn State Quarterback Stats

Player Completion % Passing Yards Passing TDs Interceptions Rushing TDs
Player Completion % Passing Yards Passing TDs Interceptions Rushing TDs
Sean Clifford 57.2 1,070 11 8 1
Will Levis 57.4 325 0 0 0

Tons of potential, if healthy

The most iconic moment of the young Big Ten season so far has to be Penix diving towards the pylon to knock off Penn State in overtime, which is a good representation of what he brings to the table. Though he has just six non-sack carries on the season, Penix already has rushed for a couple scores, as well as that two-point conversion against the Nittany Lions. He has good speed and is not afraid to take a hit when the situation calls for it.

His numbers may not jump off the page, but Penix looked pretty sharp last week against Rutgers. He has thrown just one interception this season to go with his four passing touchdowns, and ultimately he looks in control of the offense. The lefty does not seem shy about firing the ball into tight windows, and the Indiana attack has been clicking with him in charge.

By the end of the season, do not be surprised if the redshirt sophomore looks like one of the conference’s best passers. He is still getting up to full speed after missing the end of last year and then dealing with this offseason’s uncertainties. He has a big arm and clear talent, so there is no reason to not expect him to continue to improve as he gets more experience.

What to watch against Michigan

Uh oh. Two things stand out about Penix. First is his arm, which is strong and comes with a willingness to take shots downfield. The Hoosiers may not have the conference’s most intimidating receiving corps, but the Spartans proved that it does not really matter who is running the routes against this Michigan secondary. Even Minnesota had a couple big catches when they decided to throw the ball deep. This is a recipe for disaster — again.

The second thing that impresses me about Penix is how he operates in the pocket. As mentioned earlier, I think he is more mobile than his numbers show, and he will take the yards on the ground that are given to him. However, he is also able to move around the pocket and will hang in there even with the pass rush coming down. If the Wolverines play like they did last weekend, though, that will not even be an issue. Penix is not the type of quarterback this defense should be happy to face right now.