Tom Allen didn’t come out and say it, but based on his Thursday morning comments Indiana appears likely to be without both Michael Penix, Jr. and Jack Tuttle this weekend at Maryland.
Penix suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder at Penn State four weeks ago and hasn’t seen the field since, and Tuttle has a foot injury that occurred last weekend against Ohio State.
“Both (Tuttle and Penix) have been rehabbing strongly, even throwing some, so both are progressing in that direction, but the predominant snaps (at practice) were Donaven (McCulley) and Grant (Gremel),” Allen said. “Since they’ve had so little preparation, that’s been the focus to get those guys the reps that they need.”
McCulley and Gremel split the quarterback duties against Ohio State after Tuttle went down. Earlier in the week Allen cited the caliber of the opposition, the weather conditions, and McCulley’s lack of overall reps as contributing factors when it came to the decision to not fully hand over the job to his 4-star freshman last weekend. The fifth-year head coach didn’t say whether McCulley would be the full-time quarterback against Maryland, but he did note some improvements in practice this week.
“(He’s shown) a calmness, just letting your talent be what it is and not try to press and not feel like you have to go out there and put everything on your shoulders,” Allen said when asked specifically where McCulley made strides this week. “Just relax and play football. … Every rep he takes will allow him to have more confidence and go out there and play just more relaxed.”
Although it will be a road environment, Maryland could present a better opportunity for McCulley to take that comfort level out to the field on a game day. The Terrapins rank No. 83 overall in defense including No. 75 against the run and No. 88 against the pass.
Allen also indicated cornerbacks Tiawan Mullen and Reese Taylor are both working to get back on the field and will once again carry a game-time decision tag at Maryland.
“We’re really trying to get both of those guys back,” Allen said. “They’ve been working really hard. The medical staff has been relentlessly trying to get those guys ready. We’ll see, don’t know for sure. Will be a game-time decision (for both).”
Beyond just needing to pick up a win, Indiana could clearly benefit specifically by the return of Mullen and Taylor this weekend. Maryland has the No. 18 passing offense in the country, averaging 293.6 yards per game through the air.
Mullen, an All-American last season, has not played a meaningful role since the Western Kentucky game. He was in uniform and played a couple snaps against Ohio State but wasn’t able to continue. Taylor was injured in the Penn State game and had a similar false start against Michigan State, and he was not in uniform last weekend. The nature of both injuries has not been disclosed, but both are believed to be related to their legs.
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