For all intents and purposes, Indiana heads into the start of practice this fall with a wide open battle at quarterback one year after having a wide open battle at quarterback with two-thirds of the same participants.
Last season, Arizona transfer Brandon Dawkins was the third party battling for reps. This season, it’s Utah transfer Jack Tuttle. The two other parties, though, remain the same in Peyton Ramsey and Michael Penix Jr. Both showed flashes of what’s to come. Neither locked down the job for various reasons.
And thus, we enter the pre-season with so many questions.
Players To Watch
Peyton Ramsey, redshirt junior - In a lot of ways, Ramsey is the only certainty of the three quarterbacks vying for the starting spot. Through two seasons, he’s played in 20 games with 29 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He also has shown some ability to run with the ball.
While experience is on his side, it comes with a familiarity of what he is and isn’t capable of. Most notably, Ramsey’s inability to make plays downfield led to Penix finding his way onto the field. At the same time, experience is impossible to teach and the best thing Ramsey has going for him.
Michael Penix Jr., redshirt freshman - The thing about the unknown is that it’s always more exciting than the present, especially when the present is mighty bland. Last season, Ramsey was the bland present and Penix was the uber athletic freshman with a cannon for an arm and the ability to create plays with his feet.
He showed flashes early in the season before finally being handed the ball against Penn State. As he was beginning to finally find his groove, he suffered a season-ending knee injury and just like that, it was all over.
Penix, though, is back to 100 percent and will have a great shot at taking the starting position. Nothing he did last season should deter him from getting a fair shake.
Jack Tuttle, redshirt freshman - If the unknown is exciting, then Tuttle is about as exciting as they come. Coming out of high school, he was ranked as a top-10 quarterback and one of the best pro-style quarterbacks.
Tuttle comes in as the unknown but based on every comment from Tom Allen heading into this season, he’s every bit an option for the starting spot as Ramsey and Penix. By most logic, though, he’s third on the depth chart right now, making him a long shot.
Battle to Watch
Well, in this regard, there is only one battle to watch and it’s obviously the starting battle.
Ramsey will enter practice taking the first team reps but the competition is open. New offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer has stated the need and desire for more big plays. In that case and based on last season’s sample size, Penix could quickly overtake him.
What can’t happen, though, is a multi-QB system. It’s something Indiana fans are familiar with. The starter needs full support and multiple QBs can not be taking snaps during the game. It’s a system with a track record of failing and not just at Indiana.
The decision that is made and how it is made, though, will go a long way in determining how Indiana’s nine-win season will play out this year.