The Hoosiers finally have an answer for who will take the lead starting the 2019 football season. In arguably one of “the most difficult decisions” Tom Allen has made, he has selected redshirt freshman Michael Penix to command the Indiana Hoosiers in week one against Ball State. The decision was neither easy nor quick. A lot of evaluation, discussion, and back-and-forth within the staff went into the process of finally electing Penix as the day one starter.
Michael Penix had to check a few boxes before being fully entrusted with the most important player-position for the Hoosiers. First and foremost, Penix needed to get healthy from his brutal ACL injury last season and get back to 100 percent healthy. The staff had been unsure of how he would respond in summer and fall camps, but from what they have seen up until now, they are confident that he is back at full strength without any issues.
Allen also noted that Penix’s mentality and approach to his rehabilitation supported his case as the starting quarterback. A recovery from such a devastating injury requires daily commitment and drive to return back on the field. A lot of valuable lessons were learned through that process.
Growing as a vocal leader was another important factor of the equation. All three quarterbacks tend to be on the quiet-side, especially Ramsey and Penix. Michael Penix had to work on his intangibles and field-vocality in order to properly serve as the on-the-field commander. Michael Penix was part of the Hoosiers leadership council, a group gathered to develop their leadership qualities, and Tom Allen referenced Mike’s ability to direct the receiver corp when they ran incorrect routes.
On the same side of that coin, Michael Penix brings an inherent “calm and poise” to tough game situation. A quality that cannot be coached into a player.
But above all else, Penix needed to be able to produce results. After the body of work during the 2018 season and his performances in summer and fall camp, Tom Allen saw enough of a portfolio to make his decision. Between his arms and legs, the Hoosiers wanted a player that could extend plays, while also keeping the defense on edge. That’s not to say Ramsey did not have the same abilities, but the staff felt Penix would be the better option with all factors of the game considered.
Having new offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, the Hoosiers had a fresh perspective without and preconceived notions on any of the quarters. Kalen was able to bring an objective lens to the quarterback decision. All three guys had a fair opportunity with a blank slate to learn the new system under Kalen DeBoer. At the end of the day, it was Tom Allen’s decision, but Kalen DeBoer definitely had input into the process. Both are aligned 100% with the decision: Michael Penix checked all of the necessary boxes.
Coach Tom Allen has mentioned in the past that the Hoosiers were interested in picking only one one quarterback and “let him be the man.” Going forward that will be the plan. Michael Penix is going to be the man. When asked about the leash that would be given to Mike, Tom Allen simply responded, “Michael Penix is our guy.”
One interesting layer to the situation is Michael Penix’s left-handedness. Of course, this was known starting from the very first day and the staff had plans considered. Strong sides and weak sides are now flipped and certain sets need to be flipped – all things that the staff have been considering along the way. The Hoosiers now have a starting left-handed quarterback, left-footed kicker, and left-footed punter: a first for Coach Tom Allen.
Featured Photo: Doug McSchooler / AP