BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Next man up is the mantra for the Hoosiers.
It was next man up when Marcelino Ball tore his ACL before the season started. It was next man up when Thomas Allen suffered a hip injury that will keep him out for the year. It was next man up when Sampson James was unavailable last week due to personal reasons.
Depth is everything to this Indiana football team, especially in a season like this, where so many factors can cause a player to miss time.
The Hoosiers' most recent next man up scenario now involves replacing a quarterback who was leading the Big Ten in passing yards and received some mentions in the Heisman conversation.
Michael Penix Jr. is out for the season with a torn ACL, and now Jack Tuttle will take over as the starting quarterback.
The team is fully confident in Tuttle, and Tuttle is fully confident in himself.
But this week, as much as the conversations have moved forward to what Tuttle can bring to the table, it has also been about the heartbreak for Penix.
This team, built on the foundation of love each other, LEO, has spent this week talking about what Penix has meant to them this season as a teammate and leader.
Here's what some teammates and coaches said this week regarding the injury to Penix:
Running back Stevie Scott
"Having Mike go down is crushing to the team as he has been through so much. He helped this team win in so many ways. It is a sad feeling and my heart breaks for him because he had worked so hard this offseason. He wanted to play a full season with us and get us to what we have been trying to get to, a Big Ten Championship."
Offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan
"My heart breaks for Mike and his family. Just a tough deal. Yeah, my heart breaks for him."
Quarterback Jack Tuttle
"I was not really sure what happened and I was hoping Mike was going to be okay."
Head coach Tom Allen
"Michael and I spent some time together. What do you say? It is a tough thing. It is about love and support at this point. It was a challenge, even before we knew the result. We were talking to him and preparing him for what he might have had. It attacks the core of who you are. How are you going to respond to things that happen that do not seem fair when there is no good answer? That is the case here. You fall back on what you believe in. You fall back on your faith, your family, all the people that care the most about you, and you battle. You fight, you do not back down. It is discouraging, disheartening when it first happens but once you get through the first part of that, you realize it is time to fight. That is why grit is such a great word. It describes this program with perseverance and passion towards a long-term goal. Michael has some big-time long-term goals. It is going to take tremendous grit to fight through this. It is going to create more character, toughness and resolve inside of him that you could ever get if you do not face adversity."
When Thomas Allen went down against Michigan State, Penix's father was the first one to reach out to Tom Allen, and now this past Saturday, the roles had to be reversed, and Allen said it was hard.
The good thing is Penix will have a lot of support throughout his recovery, and Allen still expects him to be a leader off the field for the team as Indiana heads into the final three weeks of the season, starting with No. 18 Wisconsin this Saturday.
- INDIANA SECONDARY CAN REACH NEXT LEVEL: Jaylin Williams believes the Hoosiers' secondary, as good as they've played, still have room to improve. CLICK HERE
- JACK TUTTLE READY TO BE STARTER: Here's some background and quotes on Indiana's new starting quarterback Jack Tuttle. CLICK HERE
- PENIX OUT FOR SEASON: Michael Penix Jr. tore his ACL against Maryland and will be out for the year. CLICK HERE