Same as last week, same as the week before that. The same seemingly all year.
It is understandable at this point why Tom Allen seems to be exhausted with the injury questions.
“Same as last week,” Allen said on Thursday when asked about the health of starting quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. and his backup Jack Tuttle. “Guys are working through everything, and we are trying to get them ready. Don’t know for sure yet on Michael and Jack, but just working and throwing and trying to get them better. We are seeing progress, but we will have to see. We will make a decision tomorrow.”
Dealing with a separated throwing shoulder, Penix hasn’t played since Oct. 2 against Penn State. Tuttle returned from a foot injury last week only to suffer an injury to his other foot. If they can’t go true freshman Donaven McCulley, who Allen referred to as the “last man standing” on his radio show last night, will get another start against a Minnesota defense ranked No. 7 in total yards allowed per game.
Same as last week also applies to starting running back Stephen Carr, as in, he isn’t playing for the second week in a row. Carr was knocked out of the Michigan game with an ankle injury.
“He’s still coming along,” IU running backs coach Deland McCullough said according to Kevin Brockway of CNHI. “He ain’t playing this week from all indications potentially, but we’ll continue to keep him getting ready and hopefully ready to play against Purdue.”
Same as last week probably also applies to cornerback Tiawan Mullen, who was seen in a walking boot both at the Rutgers game and then again the next day at the IU women’s basketball game. Indiana did at least see fellow starting corner Reese Taylor return last weekend against the Scarlet Knights.
It isn’t all bad news, as starting linebacker Cam Jones is expected back after missing the Rutgers game with an illness. He’ll be a welcome sight against Minnesota’s No. 22 ranked rushing offense.
But the good news ends there, and it is possible we’ll learn that more players have been lost to injury when the team comes out to warm-up for its 3:30 p.m. Eastern (BTN) kick against the Golden Gophers. On Monday Allen said they had 30 players who head dealt with injuries this year, and on his radio show last night he bumped that number up to 34. Several players required attention on the field during the Rutgers game including defensive tackle Weston Kramer and center Dylan Powell. It isn’t clear that those two specifically are dealing with anything, but it won’t be a surprise to see a few new players not in uniform. Of course it is also possible the list has grown so large that Allen can’t keep track.
Injuries are a part of the game, everyone understands that. And there are many other issues that have wrecked this season, as we have started to outline.
But it is also fair to say that Indiana has been disproportionately impacted by the injury bug, especially at quarterback, running back and cornerback. The injuries, and the disappointing season are inextricably linked. And in his 30 years as a coach, Allen has never seen anything like it.
“I have never been a part of anything like this,” he said on Thursday. “It is unprecedented for me. That makes it even harder. At the same time, we are just trying to hang together and stay positive and get as many guys healthy each week. It is an unprecedented number of guys that we have lost, then the way the season has turned out, especially with the expectations, I have never experienced anything like it.”
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