Redshirt sophomore Michael Penix, Jr. is coming off an impressive 2019 campaign that saw him set the program single-season record for completion percentage (68.8) while throwing for 1,394 yards and 10 touchdowns to four interceptions.
The strong-armed lefthander missed seven games due to injury, and he was shut down in early November after surgery on his right sternoclavicular joint.
Now fully recovered and the clear starting quarterback heading into the 2020 season, Penix spoke with the media on Wednesday about a number of topics.
ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH NEW OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR NICK SHERIDAN
Although Nick Sheridan is in a new role as offensive coordinator, he isn’t new to the program. Sheridan has been at IU since Penix arrived in 2018, and he was his quarterback coach that year.
Penix spoke about the QB/OC dynamic.
“We have always had a strong relationship since I have been here,” Penix said. “The only difference now is that he is calling the plays. I was with him my freshman year when he was the quarterback coach, so I have worked with him before. We have always had a good connection. Last year, when he moved to tight ends, we still talked a lot. He still knew everything that the quarterbacks had going on, so it has always been a good connection. The only difference now is that he is calling the plays.”
READY FOR THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES
A unique byproduct of Penix’s injuries in 2019 was that he missed games against Big Ten East division powers Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. IU faces those three teams over the first five weeks of the 2020 season.
Penix says he intends to be ready this time, and he expects IU to make a statement.
“I obviously wanted to play in those games but I always say I feel like everything happens for a reason so I just look forward and I’m just ready to play them this year and we’re definitely going to come out and dominate and I feel like we’re going to do good,” Penix said. “The team is definitely ready for these big games, and I feel like we’re going to shock the world. I know we are.”
STAYING HEALTHY IS JOB ONE
Penix and head coach Tom Allen believe that the rash of injuries in 2019 stemmed in part from the Tampa product needing more mass on his frame to better absorb hits.
Penix has added 16 pounds according to the 2020 roster, and he hopes that, along with better judgment will help him stay on the field.
“It didn’t change my mechanics or anything,” Penix remarked about the added weight. “It’s just more weight so I can be able to embrace hits. The main focus with me is just staying on the field. I’ve got to be out here for my guys and find ways to play all the time. Make the smart play as well to make sure I’m protecting myself so that I’m there for the team.”
YOUNG RECEIVERS STANDING OUT
Indiana has big shoes to fill at wide receiver after the departure of Nick Westbrook and Donaven Hale. Program veterans Whop Philyor and Ty Fryfogle are back, but the Hoosiers will need a few of the younger pass catchers to step up in 2020.
Penix talked about who some of those receivers might be.
“I feel that our entire receiver corps have looked really good,” Penix said. “We have some young guys like (true freshman) Javon Swinton that is doing really well on the outside and getting a lot of reps. (True freshman) Rashawn Williams is a good player, a quick guy that will be really good for our offense. We have a couple more like (redshirt freshman) Jordan Jakes that was here last year and did not get a lot of playing time. These guys are going to have to play a big role this year and step up. I feel like those guys are ready.”
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