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IU football expects to have multiple quarterbacks available for Rutgers

It won’t save Indiana’s season, but the Hoosiers’ struggling offense could get a lift this weekend when they return home to face Rutgers.

Head coach Tom Allen said he expects to have multiple quarterbacks available to play on Saturday when IU takes on the Scarlet Knights at Memorial Stadium (Noon Eastern, BTN).

Starter Michael Penix, Jr. and his backup Jack Tuttle have both been rehabbing injuries suffered during the season.  Allen hinted Tuttle is further along in his recovery, but did not specify whether both injured quarterbacks might be available.

“They’re both further along,” Allen said on a Zoom conference with the media on Thursday. “I would say Jack’s probably further along than Michael. … The bottom line is we’re going to have multiple guys ready to go on Saturday and we’ll see how it plays itself out.”

Both Tuttle and Penix practiced this week according to Allen.

“(Tuttle and Penix) got more opportunities, more reps this week than last, which is very positive,” Allen said.

True freshman Donaven McCulley has been starting in the place of Penix and Tuttle over the last two weeks.  In total McCulley has appeared in four games and he could still take a redshirt season if he doesn’t see any additional action in 2021.

Tuttle suffered a foot injury when he was hit as he threw a touchdown pass against Ohio State three weeks ago, while Penix has been out since leaving the Penn State game on Oct. 2 with a throwing shoulder separation.

On the season Tuttle has completed 40-of-77 passes (51.9 percent) for 397 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.  Penix is 87-of-162 for 939 yards with four touchdowns and seven interceptions.  Both Penix and Tuttle have appeared in five games.

Indiana originally planned to allow McCulley to take a redshirt season prior to the injuries to both Penix and Tuttle.  Redshirt freshman quarterback Dexter Williams was also lost for the season during the spring.  While protecting McCulley’s option to redshirt is on the table, Allen said that has to take a backseat to other considerations given the situation they are in.

“The whole objective is number one, whoever is in there is going to need to be able to be healthy, and not going to put them out there if they’re not,” Allen said.  “But number two, it is what do we got to do to be able to help us be successful on Saturday.”

Allen also acknowledged that part of the calculus on evaluating McCulley’s situation involves an assessment of how likely it is for any player to stay in one place for five years in this transfer portal era.

“I think it’s probably unusual that a guy would be someplace at that position for five years, it happens, I’m sure, but yeah, I think all those variables together kind of make it a little bit different thought process that you might have,” Allen said.

McCulley has completed 25-of-55 passes (45.5 percent) for 360 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in his four appearances.

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