Indiana QB Michael Penix Jr. on Injury: 'It Sucks, But I'll ... Play More Football'

Speaking publicly for the first time since getting injured in Saturday night's loss at Penn State, Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr said he is attacking rehab for a shoulder separation during an interview on the Mike & Micah podcast on the Sports Illustrated Indiana website, and vows to ''come back stronger.''

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Just because Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has had to rehab from several injuries before during his career, it doesn't make it any easier that he has to do it again.

Indiana coach Tom Allen said Monday that Penix had suffered a separated AC joint in his left throwing shoulder during the 24-0 loss at Penn State on Saturday night. He was injured in the second half when he was tackled after taking off on a run, landing with all the weight of the tackler on his left shoulder.

Penix doesn't need surgery, but he's already started rehab and Allen said they are ''taking it week by week.'' Indiana has a bye week this week and returns to action on Oct. 16 with a Homecoming game against No. 11 Michigan State. Indiana hosts No. 7 Ohio State the following week.

Penix was scheduled to do his Mike & Micah podcast live from Yogi's Bar & Grill in Bloomington on Tuesday night. That wasn't recommended, so he sat down in his apartment for a 6-minute interview with Sports Illustrated Indiana publisher Tom Brew, the podcast's host, to talk about what happened Saturday night, and how he's feeling now.

"I'm alright. Just staying level-headed,'' Penix said. "Just a little pain right now, but I'm fighting through it, and I'm going to keep pushing through it, like always.''

Penix said he knew right away after the tackle that something was wrong.

"It just happens. It's football. Yeah, definitely, I could tell right away (that it was serious),'' he said. "It just felt off. I won't say that I felt a pop or anything, but it just felt different when it happens. It's a feeling I couldn't really explain, but I knew it was something.''

Penix, a redshirt junior, has had two torn ACL's in his knee during his time at Indiana that ended his seasons in 2018 and 2020, respectively. In 2019, he was knocked out for the year after a tackle in an early November game against Northwestern led to a fractured clavicle that required surgery.

These weren't similar, he said. The clavicle injury, he said, was far worse.

"The clavicle was way much more pain. I couldn't even breathe,'' Penix said. "This one, it wasn't too bad. Some pain, but it was enough to control.''

Indiana's medical staff immediately took Penix to the locker room, and checked him out more thoroughly. 

"They were just feeling around, just trying to figure out what it was, see how major it was and if I could get back into the game or not,'' Penix said. "Nothing popped out. It wasn't no pop up, but I knew (that I couldn't go back in the game).''

Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is helped off the field after suffering a shoulder injury Saturday night at Penn State. (USA TODAY Sports)

Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is helped off the field after suffering a shoulder injury Saturday night at Penn State. (USA TODAY Sports)

Penix had an MRI early Sunday morning when the team got back to Bloomington, and he got the bad news a few hours later. 

"It sucks, but I'll still have an opportunity to play more football,'' he said. "I'm just going to take it day by day, attack my rehab and make sure I come back stronger.

"They're telling me right now that there's no surgery (required). So it's just letting it heal and strengthening it back up. Just taking the right precautions so I can come back healthy. Right now, it's just a day-to-day process, and I'm taking it one day at a time and we'll see how I feel as we go along.''

All these injuries are just as tough to deal with mentally as they are physically. Penix knows it, feel it and, quite frankly, hates it. He's a football player, and he wants to play. So the idea of potentially missing more games going forward isn't easy for him to deal with.

"It's obviously hard as a football player growing up and always playing football,'' said Penix, who never had to deal with injuries throughout his prolific high school career in Tampa, Fla. "Not having that opportunity at the moment, it's hard sometimes. It' can be frustrating.

"But I feel like everything happens for a reason. I'm just going to attack my rehab, and whenever that opportunity comes up to play again, I take full advantage of it and I'll come back healthy.''

Penix has played in 20 games at Indiana, and he has a 14-6 record in those games. He's passed for 4,197 yards with 29 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions. Seven of those 15 interceptions have come this year in the Hoosiers' 2-3 start. He has led Indiana's football resurgence, where they were ranked in the top-10 last season for the first time in four decades.

If Penix can't play, Jack Tuttle will start for Indiana. He filled in for Penix last year, playing the last half of the Maryland game when Penix tore his ACL, and then started  the win at Wisconsin and the Outback Bowl loss to Ole Miss, where he hurt his shoulder himself.

Tuttle has the respect of the locker room, too. 

"I hate it for Mike, to see him get hurt like that, because he's been through so much and works so hard,'' said Indiana kicker Charles Campbell, who finished off the Mike & Micah podcast for Penix on Tuesday night. "I know this team, we've got his back, just like we have Jack's back, too. 

"We all know how good Jack can be, too. He's a really smart guy, and he's got a lot of talent. Jack's an NFL quarterback, in my opinion, and I know we can win games with Jack.''

Watch Michael Penix Jr.'s full interview

Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. sat down for a 6-minute interview with publisher Tom Brew to discuss what happened Saturday night at Penn State.

  • PENIX SHOULDER INJURY: Indiana coach Tom Allen talked about Michael Penix Jr.'s shoulder injury during his press conference on Monday. CLICK HERE
  • REPORT CARD: It's hard to be kind to Indiana's offense — players and coaches alike — after getting shut out at Penn State on Saturday night. Here's Tom Brew's report card after the 24-0 loss. CLICK HERE
  • INDIANA SCHEDULE: Here is Indiana's complete football schedule, with dates, game times, TV information and more, plus links to all the game stories, Tom Brew columns and report cards from the first five games. CLICK HERE