IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Indiana quarterback was humbled in last week’s blowout loss at Iowa.
Michael Penix Jr. looked nothing like the All-Big Ten signal-caller that shocked Penn State’s in last year’s season opener. Instead he played sluggish and showed some rust against the Hawkeyes. Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering Penix just returned back to the lineup after he recovered from an ACL injury.
The Florida native completed only 14 of his 31 passes. Not to mention Penix was intercepted three times, including two that were returned for touchdowns. The embarrassing loss dropped the 17th-ranked Hoosiers out of the AP top-25 this week.
Now Penix is back at the drawing board looking for answers, but doesn’t feel his lackluster performance had nothing to do with the play calling. He still has confidence in Offensive Coordinator Nick Sheridan. And believes Sheridan will put the players in the best position to win. Which is why Penx is expecting a big turnaround.
“I felt pretty good, I was pretty confident going into the game, obviously it didn’t end how we wanted it to, but we got a lot to build on,” Penix said. “We got a lot to go back to work on, so I know for sure we definitely going to pick it up.”
Penix thought the Hoosiers didn’t play up to their potential. He takes full responsibility for Indiana’s showing on offense and understands everything starts with the quarterback. Iowa’s defense didn’t unleash a consistent pass rush on him either, so he’ll have to improve his pocket awareness.
The former four-star prospect needs that killer instinct back. Penix still has in it him to put the Hoosiers on his back and carry them to the finish line. He’s working on everything in his power not to duplicate the mistakes against Idaho. In his eyes, the loss against Iowa was a fluke and not a reflection on how the team is handling being the hunted.
“Nothing felt off, I just feel like we didn’t execute when we needed to,” he said. “Obviously the turnovers killed us, with the penalties that hurt us too, we was always behind the sticks.”
The Hoosiers had to play from behind right from the start, which forced them to adjust their game plan. No running back was able to step up and take some of the pressure off of Penix. The Hawkeyes provided a clear measuring stick on where the team stands. Now the Hoosiers are expecting to respond to all of the adversity against the Vandals.
Penix is looking at the matchup as a fresh start for the offense, and he’ll be more comfortable at home in front of the Indiana fans for the first time in nearly two years. The entire squad is rallying behind Coach Tom Allen and Penix. Everyone is expecting better results following a grueling week of practice.
And rightfully so. Indiana has the talent, experience, leadership and production to still make some noise the rest of the year. Penix won’t let one game define the Hoosiers’ season.
“We’re going to keep our heads up, just keep pushing,” the 21-year old said. “Just keeping that mindset to where nothing can stop us, just continue to go out and play everyday and we got to execute at a high level.”