Michael Penix Jr.: Cool, Calm, Collected Under Pressure

Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. had 305 passing yards under pressure against Ohio State. He talked Monday on why he's so calm in the pocket.
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Michael Penix Jr. made some history against Ohio State last Saturday.

It's not the history the coaching staff will necessary be proud of when they look at the offensive performance as a whole, but it's history that showed just how talented Penix is as the Hoosiers' starting quarterback.

Penix threw for 491 yards against the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes, which is a career-high for him. But, 305 of those yards were while Penix was under pressure.

That stat gave Penix the most passing yards under pressure in a single game in the Pro Football Focus Era.

So what does that mean? The two highest yardages before Penix claimed the top spot was Patrick Mahomes in 2016 versus Oklahoma (278), and Patrick Mahomes in 2016 versus Kansas State (273).

Patrick Mahomes, if you didn't know, is the top quarterback in the NFL right now with a Super Bowl ring and MVP to his name in just a few short seasons.

It obviously isn't ideal to have your quarterback under so much pressure, but it's a luxury when your quarterback isn't fazed by it.

Indiana has had some injuries along the offensive line this season, and Ohio State's size and physicality in the trenches is hard for any team to combat, but Penix was able to handle the pressure that was thrown at him.

On Monday, the Hoosier quarterback talked about his poise in the pocket — a trait he said he's had his whole life.

"That is just how I have always played," Penix said. "I know that at the quarterback position you have got to be poised, you have got to be calm. You have got to just control everything that is going on the offensive side of the ball."

No matter how much pressure he is facing, Penix never wants to show he's rattled.

He's made it a point of emphasis to make sure his teammates know that he will stay calm no matter what.

"I cannot show that I am rattled, because the quarterback cannot show that he is rattled because it sends a message to the rest of the offense that you do not want to have," Penix said. "I just tried my best to stay calm under pressure and just deliver strikes every time I get the opportunity."

Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) passes as Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Tommy Togiai (72) pressures during the fourth quarter of a NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) passes as Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Tommy Togiai (72) pressures during the fourth quarter of a NCAA Division I football game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

It's been a common theme for Penix all season to make big throws with defenders in his face.

In Indiana's final regulation drive of the Penn State game, Penix made some incredible throws on target when it seemed like his vision was cut off and he had no room to get it off.

That happened numerous times against Ohio State, specifically on a 3rd and 14, where Penix was able to maneuver around a crowded pocket and deliver a strike to Whop Philyor for a first down.

"I feel like it was just an instincts play," Penix said. "I believe they got a false start on that play, you know he jumped off quick, so I had to avoid him. I feel like it is just instincts, just being aware of the pocket. Just having good pocket presence and then finding the receiver."

Penix said during film after the game, offensive line coach Darren Hiller had no idea how he got the ball out on that play.

But Penix isn't just getting the ball out on these plays, he is throwing the ball accurately and completing his passes as well.

His performance earned him a lot of praise from some major athletes and analysts, including the likes of LeBron James and Matt Leinart.

But Penix will never take all of the credit. It's just who he is.

As much as he's aware of his impressive ability to stay poised in the pocket, he also know he's only one half of a completed pass.

"I know I have got great play makers out there on the outside, so that if I put the ball in the air, one of them is going to go get it," Penix said. "I really believe in them. I really trust them and I just go out there and play and just have fun."

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