By Dylan Wallace | The Tribune
Indiana University quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been saying since the spring he would be ready to roll for the Hoosiers’ season opener Sept. 4 at Iowa.
In the months that followed, any time Penix or head coach Tom Allen would talk, they reaffirmed the plan is for Penix to be healthy coming off of a torn ACL last November — the same ACL he tore back in 2018.
Now with game week here and less than five days until the college football season kicks off, the Hoosiers were posed with the question one more time to be sure nothing had changed.
“It was a constant process to get him ready for Sept. 4,” Allen said. “So very encouraged by his progress and he’s right where we hoped he would be and he’s 100% ready to be the starter on Saturday, and so that’s great.”
This year, Penix has had to do the most he has ever done during a fall camp before.
During special teams periods or other non-offensive periods, Penix would go work with the trainers and the weight room staff to continue his rehab and try to strengthen that previously injured knee.
“I think that all along, it has always been about just constant progress, constant working for him, and as a matter of fact, I met with him this past weekend and met with several different guys and for different reasons, and he and I talked about that and I really commended him on his just buying into that process and how hard it is,” Allen said.
Penix also met with the media Monday and was as confident as ever about everything leading up to the 2021 opener.
“I trust my knee. I trust that everything is OK,” Penix said. “I’m 100% confident that I’m going to have a great season this year.”
Indiana is currently ranked No. 17 in the country in The Associated Press top-25 poll, and the Hoosiers’ Week 1 opponent is ranked No. 18.
Despite having the higher ranking, Indiana is entering the game as 3.5-point underdogs.
Iowa leads the all-time series against Indiana 45-28, and the Hawkeyes have currently won the last three games with the last meeting taking place in Bloomington in 2018.
The Hoosiers and Hawkeyes were 1-2 in terms of leading the Big Ten in takeaways last season, and both teams are returning a majority of their athletic, intelligent secondaries.
Even though Penix hasn’t played in any live action since Nov. 20, 2020, he is confident in Indiana’s abilities in enemy territory this Saturday.
“As an offense, we understand that their secondary is coming back,” Penix said. “We’re just going to take it play by play, take what they give us and just make sure we go out and execute. As long as we go out and execute, I feel like we’ll be good. We definitely respect their secondary, but I feel like I have a lot of weapons out there to get the ball to, and it’s definitely going to be a great game.”
Kickoff is slated for a 3:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.