The value of quarterback depth was on full display at Indiana last season.
So this month, as the Hoosiers move closer to their season opener against Penn State, IU is trying to make sure it has a trusted Plan B under center. That means, with Peyton Ramsey out of the picture and Michael Penix established as the starter, the backup duties fall to Jack Tuttle.
And IU is hoping he’ll be ready, if needed.
“I think Jack has come miles since he’s been here,” IU offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan said. “I think he’s gained the trust and confidence of his teammates and continues to get better and better.”
Already, the past few weeks have proved valuable in ways last season was not. Tuttle was playing catch-up in the 2019 quarterback battle after transferring in from Utah. As Penix and Ramsey separated themselves as IU’s best options early during fall camp, Tuttle’s snaps diminished as he fell to the third slot on the depth chart.
This year, with less of a crowd at the front of the pack, Tuttle is getting the time on task that he needs.
“He’s gotten more reps and gotten better,” Sheridan said. “Traditionally, the third team quarterback toward the end of training camp and the season, they just don’t get many reps. So that’s where Jack kind of fell last year. He had just gotten here and he was learning what we were doing.”
Interestingly — and with all due respect to those who came before — this could be the most natural talent Indiana has seen at the first and second slots of the quarterback two-deep in recent memory. Both Tuttle and Penix were four-star recruits coming out of high school, with the former receiving the highest acclaim of the two.
247 Sports ranked Tuttle the No. 7 pro-style quarterback nationally and the No. 15 overall player in the state of California during the 2018 recruiting cycle, and he originally chose Utah over offers from Alabama, LSU, Arizona, USC, Washington State and Wisconsin, among others.
Last fall, Tuttle saw only limited action, making his college debut against Eastern Illinois and appearing in four other contests. Tuttle’s biggest improvement, Sheridan says, is in his comfort with his supporting cast.
Penix, too, sees a more confident Tuttle.
“He can make every throw on the field,” Penix said. “He’s understanding the offense and understanding why we do everything. I feel like that’s one thing that me and him connect with. We always talk together to make sure we’re on the same page with stuff, so I feel like Jack also does a lot. He makes sure he studies. He’s always on the film, he understands everything that’s going on, and (he) is a great player for us. Definitely glad to have him.”