Indiana Offense Emphasizes Explosive Plays With 'Gunslinger' at Quarterback

Of the five touchdowns Indiana scored last Saturday against Ohio State, three of them were from plays of 30 yards or more.
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — After Indiana's close loss to Ohio State, Buckeyes coach Ryan Day made an obvious statement that if his team hadn't given up so many explosive plays to Indiana, they would have run away with the game.

The statement, in its own right, makes sense. Even though it was meant as more of a criticism to his defense, it also shows just how explosive Indiana's offense can be, hanging 35 points on the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes.

Of the five touchdowns Indiana scored last Saturday, three of them were from plays of 30 yards or more.

"That is what our mind set is. Medium passes to long balls, so we work on long balls a lot," Indiana wide receiver Whop Philyor said. "It is going to be big for us this year and years to come. That's going to be a big thing for us because we know we've got a gunslinger back there, so he can throw it anywhere."

Philyor was the recipient of Indiana's shortest touchdown, which was a 4-yard pass from Michael Penix Jr. But that touchdown was set up by a 68-yard pass to Miles Marshall.

The second-shortest touchdown was when Penix found David Ellis for 16 yards.

The three big scores all came from one of the hottest connections in all of college football right now — Penix to Ty Fryfogle. 

Penix connected with Fryfogle on scoring plays of 33 yards, 56 yards and 63 yards.

"I mean, we all knew Ty could do this. We all knew he could do this when he first came in," Philyor said. "They used to call him on the visits 'Jump Ball', and when I looked up his highlights, I saw him bombing people, coming over people's heads. We knew he could do this. He just had to gain the confidence in himself to do it. And look at him now, he is doing it right now."

This Indiana offense had high expectations coming into this season to be one of the more explosive ones in college football.

In 2019, the Hoosiers matched a school record with nine 30-point games. This season, the offense has gotten off to a slow start in most of its games, but it has still shown just how explosive it can be, which was on display in the second half against Ohio State.

"We are certainly trying to be explosive," Indiana offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan said. "We do want to throw the ball down the field, and sometimes defenses just structurally allow you to do that and other times they make you throw the ball underneath and you have got to be mindful of that and take what the defense gives you. So, definitely credit to the players for making the plays."

Sheridan hit it on the head there, giving credit to his players. Even though he is the man calling the shots, the weapons that Indiana have on offense has allowed them to take big shots down field.

The biggest advantage, in Philyor's mind, is having Penix as the quarterback.

Everyone on Indiana's team thinks Penix can make any throw. With that type of confidence in the quarterback, the Hoosiers have their minds set on continuing to hurt teams with big-yardage plays.

"He can throw, he is just a gunslinger," Philyor said. "He can throw it perfectly down the field, medium routes, he can put anything on the money. That is our main focus. Down the field or medium passes."

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  • MILES MARSHALL SEIZES OPPORTUNITY: Indiana wide receiver Miles Marshall is making the most of his playing time this season. CLICK HERE
  • PENIX BRINGS POISE TO POCKET: Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is calm, cool and collected under pressure this season. CLICK HERE
  • TY FRYFOGLE EARNS BIG TEN HONORS: For the second-straight week, Ty Fryfogle has earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week Honors. CLICK HERE