For three straight weeks the story has been largely the same.
Indiana starting quarterback Michael Penix is a game time decision with an undisclosed injury.
While the game time label remains for Saturday’s contest against Michigan State at East Lansing, the narrative is at least changing somewhat.
IU head coach Tom Allen acknowledged on Thursday that Penix did throw during practice this week, which actually revealed, or at least confirmed two things.
Penix did not throw the football at all during pre-game warmups last weekend against UConn. Things are progressing.
Second, Allen’s acknowledgment about Penix throwing the football seems to be at least an indirect confirmation that as widely understood, the injury relates to the redshirt freshman’s throwing arm or shoulder.
While more has been revealed this week regarding what has been described as a “short term” situation, uncertainty remains.
“We’ll see,” Allen said to reporters on Thursday regarding whether Penix will play against the Spartans. “We’re going to make that decision and it will be announced at kickoff.
“But he’s continuing to progress and we’ll see where we’re at. We don’t know everything for sure yet, but we’ll continue to evaluate after we get everything done today and meet with everybody that’s involved and make a decision.”
When pressed on the progress that Penix has made over the last couple weeks with his recovery, Allen indicated that the Tampa, Fla., native’s condition has been continuously improving.
“It’s been building, yes,” Allen said. “It’s been building for sure. It’s been progressing ever since it initially happened, and we just continue to get him ready.”
The quarterback repetitions have been distributed this week in a manner that seems to suggest that Penix has been preparing as if there is at least a legitimate chance that he will play.
“We’re in the mode of being able to balance that (the practice reps) out,” Allen said. “So just like we normally would do. So it’s been both guys getting equal reps.”
The possibility also exists that both Penix and redshirt junior Peyton Ramsey could see action in East Lansing.
“There was some (thoughts/preparation for playing both quarterbacks) in terms of if he (Penix) does play, how much do you want to get him in there.”
In the event that Penix cannot go for a third straight week, Allen continues to be confident in Ramsey.
“Peyton’s had a great week too,” Allen said. “He continues to command the offense and throw with a lot of accuracy and do a great job.”
“Bottom line is we got two that we trust, and Peyton’s been in this environment before and played there last time and we had our chances.”
As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Ramsey was 22-for-34 throwing the football for 158 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions at Michigan State. The Ohio native also ran 15 time for 33 yards.
FIRST TRUE ROAD TEST FOR HOOSIERS
While Ramsey has played in Spartan Stadium before, no one on this Indiana roster has played in a true road game in 2019.
That will change this weekend when the Hoosiers travel to Michigan State to play before 75,000 green clad fans.
“Great environment we’re going to be playing in,” Allen said. “They’ll have a great loud crowd. I just talked about that with our guys. What it means. I expect our guys to elevate their level of play, their focus and their execution and be at their very best.”
The preparation this week at practice has had a Pavlovian effect on the third year Hoosier coach.
“The weeks when you have the crowd noise pumped in, that gets me pumped up, because I know what that means. I know where we’re going. I know what’s at stake.”
Allen will be looking for his players to draw the same energy from the large opposing crowd.
“I know the environment we’re going to be in, and I love those environments and I want our guys to learn to feed off that.”
Indiana and Michigan State kick off at 3:30 Eastern time. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.
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