Michigan State, which has a no. 10 record, prepares for two QBs while also beating Indiana by an unbeaten record
Michigan State is facing a new challenge heading into the second half of the season.
For the first time this year, the No. 10 Spartans (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) are uncertain who will quarterback against them. Saturday (noon, FS1), Indiana will play (2-3, 1-1 Big Ten) in Indianapolis.
Michael Penix Jr. has a torn throwing shoulder and if he cant play, the Hoosiers will call on Jack Tuttle.
Obviously, injuries are a part of the game, Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said. Indiana has a strong team and regardless of whos playing quarterback, theyre going to be productive, and they're likely to prepare and play physical football, as well as having accumulated remarkably good experience, he said.
Midway through the season, Michigan States offense s explosiveness and balance stand out.
The Hoosiers had a bye last week after Penix was injured during saturday's 24-0 loss at Penn State. Penixs status for Saturday's game will not be publicly revealed until after kickoff, according to Indiana coach Tom Allen.
Mike is undergoing rehab, Allen said. Its week-to-week, and that hasn't changed, as I've said before. Jack, of course, as always, will be ready to go. Thats been something thatd been one of his strengths, his ability to stay locked in and focused, and prepare at a high level no matter what the role hell be asked to perform. Hell be ready as always.
Penix had a stellar 2020 season as he threw for 274.2 yards per game, 14 touchdowns, and four interceptions before suffering tearing of his ACL in saturday's victory over Maryland. It was Penice' third straight year with recurrent injury. Tuttle, a former Utah transfer, recorded oblique 1-1 start record in the final two games wiltshire 14-6 victory at Wisconsin and 26-20 loss to Ole Miss in The Outback Bowl.
Penix was a second team All-Big Ten selection last year, but he and the Hoosiers have struggled this season, despite losing three games by double figures to top-10 teams in Iowa, Cincinnati, and Penn State. He has completed 53.7 percent of his passes (87-for-162) for 939 yards, four touchdowns, and seven interceptions.
Michigan States new-look cornerback group is coming together.
With the Hoosiers desperately searching for a boost on offense, they may have to visit Tuttle on Saturday. In his 11 career games at Indiana, he has completed 57.4 percent of his throws (58-for-101) for three touchdowns and two interceptions. Those included going 6-for-12 for 77 yards and an interception after replacing Penix at Penn State.
Bottom line is that he has started for us and won a Big Ten game on the road, which was huge last year, and has played many minutes beyond that, Allen said. I just think that his experience as well, and then just his leadership I think hes a strong leader on our team and more verbal in that role and does incredibly well bringing energy. He works extremely hard in the weight room, in conditioning workouts, and in everything we do.
Preparing for two Indiana quarterbacks is a situation Michigan State was in two years ago when it was going to be either Penix, who missed the previous two games due to injury, or Peyton Ramsey. Penix got the start that day and completed 33 of 42 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns as the Hoosiers lost 40-31. He threw for 320 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions in a 24-0 victory last season as the Spartans were beaten at home for the first time since 1985.
Drew Jordan, the Michigan State defensive end, said, Our preparation is going to be fairly the same." Both quarterbacks are really talented guys, and were just going to work on our schemes and tighten the screws a little bit more so we can continue to be successful.
Jordan is a graduate transfer from Duke in his first season with the Spartans and hasnt faced either Indiana quarterback. Senior safety Xavier Henderson, on the other hand, was on-the-field against Penix each of the last two years.
Just sort of trying to understand Indianas scheme and what they want to accomplish offensively, Henderson said. It doesnt change a lot when the quarterbacks change. Theyre getting the ball out and they want to get the run game going as well. It all starts with understanding what they want to do and there are some differences between them. Ive still got to watch more Tuttle film just because he hasnt had as much film as Penix, and I haven't played Tule. It all comes down to filming and getting in touch with guys together. Youve got to be able to see the same things so there are no surprises when you go out there on Saturday, he said.
Michigan State QB Payton Thorne shines, but doesnt mind if spotlight is focused on teammates. Michigan state Q B Thornes is a versatile passer who loves to throw, and doesn't like it unless the spotlight moves to teammates accomplishments.
Indiana has struggled offensively this season, finishing 100th in the nation in scoring (23.8) and 108th overall offense (343.6). Michigan State has had a bend but dont break defense that is ranked last in the Big Ten and 124th in baseball in passing yards allowed per game at 301.7 but is also 27th overall in scoring defense at 19.3.
Travares Tillman, Michigan State cornerbacks coach, said with a smile. Every defense wants the offense not to get any yards, Tillmann said. Sometimes, its just the way it is. Were out there trying to stop the offense, and sometimes one player doesnt know how to do it right. It happens. What Im looking for at the end of the game is a win in the final battle, he said.
Although theres uncertainty about who will start at quarterback for the Hoosiers, theyll have an additional week of preparation after the bye.
Tucker stated, "What we can expect is a well-prepared team, largely rested." We can expect to see some looks that they havent shown before, as well as copycat plays from them anything that has hurt us in the past. If its in their power to do it, Id like to see if weve fixed those deficiencies.
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