BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana's season-opener against Penn State means a little more to Whop Philyor.
It's been a long offseason, and everyone is ready to get back on the field to play, but for Philyor, the Hoosiers' first opponent gives him more incentive.
One season ago when Indiana traveled to Happy Valley, Philyor took a hit to the head in the second quarter, causing him to fumble and be taken into concussion protocol.
The hit was conceived by many to be targeting, but that wasn't the call on the field.
On that play, Philyor actually took two hits to the head. It was a catch-and-run for Philyor, and he first took a glancing blow from cornerback Marquis Wilson. As Wilson was making the tackle, Penn State linebacker Ellis Brooks came flying into the fray from the opposite direction, making direct contact to Philyor's helmet with his own.
Philyor didn't play the rest of the game as Indiana went on to lose to Penn State 34-27. Philyor missed the next game due to a concussion.
Head coach Tom Allen thought it should have been targeting, and he went through a process to seek an explanation on the non-call. The Big Ten never released an explanation to the public.
"I tell the boys all the time — them boys (Penn State) knocked me out," Philyor said. "So, imma need y'all boys to bring that dog, too, because you already know I'm gonna bring that dog with me."
Philyor will be Indiana's number one target on the field this season, which also means he'll be the defense's number one priority to take away.
But wide receivers coach Grant Heard hopes Indiana has enough good weapons around Philyor to where opposing teams can't afford to double team him.
"We have the ability to move him in a lot of different places," Heard said. "We got to be creative on offense to make sure he gets some touches. As long as we got pieces around him, they gotta respect everybody. If they want to take him away, other people got to step up."
Heard stressed the importance of getting Philyor involved but not so much that it overwhelms him and causes him to slow down. Philyor's strength is playing fast, so the Hoosiers need to balance out his touches so he's at his best every time.
Last season, Philyor caught 70 passes for 1,002 yards and five touchdowns, becoming the seventh Hoosier to reach 1,000 yards.
He knows how important he is to Indiana's offense, and he was devastated by the fact he couldn't finish out the game in 2019 against Penn State.
Indiana's season opener already provides a big opportunity for the Hoosiers to knock off a top-25 opponent as the Nittany Lions will come to Bloomington ranked No. 9 in the country.
The Hoosiers have only defeated Penn State once, and it was in 2013. Indiana knows what's at stake, but with their star wide receiver even more motivated than usual, he's trying to bring his teammates along for the ride.
"I tell them all the time this game is real personal to me," Philyor said. "So, I need y'all boys to make it personal with y'all, too. You know how we coming. We ready. We ain't playing. We on a mission this year."
- KAHLIL BENSON OUT FOR SEASON: True freshman Kahlil Benson is out for the season with a torn ACL. CLICK HERE
- GAME TIME ANNOUNCED FOR INDIANA, PENN STATE: Indiana will take on Penn State at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 24 on FS1. CLICK HERE
- MICHAEL PENIX WANTS TO SPREAD THE WEALTH: There is no label on the type of quarterback that Michael Penix Jr. is. He is determined to get his teammates involved. CLICK HERE