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B1G 2020, Indiana Potluck #2: Young Quarterbacks and Buckets of Beer—Risky Biz-ness in Bloomington

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The best-named quarterback in the Big Ten has the job to himself and the weapons to conjure up Indiana’s offensive numbers of old. But are there cracks in the Hoosier foundation?

Woman Drinking Beer Photo by Frank Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

As we mark time until college football is, seemingly inevitably, canceled for the fall, we continue with our previews of Indiana football.

Today, it’s the offense, a Bloomington bar tradition, and the risks inherent that tie them all together.

Won’t you jump with us?

The Football

While hardly the high-flying Hoosiers of the Kevin Wilson days, Indiana certainly has the weapons to put up points...and with a little physical consistency at the quarterback position, this group could be something special.

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps oddly for an Indiana team, it starts with a bruising back. Stevie Scott III is damn legit running the ball—while he’s not breaking away with his legs, he’s certainly a threat to wear down defenses and get them biting on the run fakes.

That opens things up for a wide receiving core that...well, Whop Philyor has the speed to get behind defenses (and just eked over 1000 yards to go with 5 TDs), Ty Fryfogle (604 yards, 3 TDs) brings a little size to the party, and David Ellis remains an option to run the ball out of pre-snap motion. The Hoosiers will have to make up for sizable security blanket Nick Westbrook, and no one appears sure yet of TE Peyton Hendershot’s status after a February 2020 domestic violence incident, though Allen said in June that he was working with the team in a modified way.

Most importantly, though, this appears to be Michael Penix Jr.’s moment: the redshirt frosh (69% completion, 8.7 YPA, 10:4 TD:INT) matched or bettered most of Peyton Ramsey’s averages (68%, 8.2 YPA, 13:5), and in the offseason Ramsey took a graduate transfer to Northwestern. Penix left the Northwestern beatemdown with his second (unrelated) injury of the season, a sternu— steno— stetho— whatever it’s called where your collarbone meets the sternum. He hurt that. Got surgery, though, and apparently he’s fine and ready to go.

So with that, today we flip the order:

(1) Give us the “best scenario” and “worst scenario” for when your team turned the offense over to a freshman or sophomore signal-caller.

(2) Do you think Penix can last as the Hoosiers QB, or should 4* Utah transfer Jack Tuttle start warming up his arm now? How high can this offense fly?

babaoreally:
1) Best case scenario—Drew Brees as a sophomore in 1998.
Worst case scenario—every QB that had to start for Darrell Hazell.

2) I think Penix will struggle and get replaced by Jack “Molly” Tuttle. Then Penix will rise like a phoenix and get his job back with a mythical performance against Maryland.

pkloa: Best case is clearly a Sean Clifford-type initial season. Or Trace McSorley. Or Christian Hackenberg. Matt McGloin had a great career, but was only so-so through his first year.

Getting a worst-case proved more difficult. Even Rob Bolden had a somewhat better than horrific Freshman season. I went all the way back to the Dark Years to find Zack Mills. 1600 yards, 9 TDs, 12 INTs. Woof. Of the four years Mills started, his only decent season coincided with pre-insane Larry Johnson’s 2087 yards rushing.

Jesse: Uh, Nebraska turned the ball over to Tommie Frazier, so that was cool. Went 5-2 as he started, won the Big 8, and spent his Sophomore year trying to win a damn Heisman.

I suppose technically the worst case scenario—record wise—is Adrian Martinez? I was expecting to say Tommy Armstrong, but looking at both his Freshman and Sophomore years, it wasn’t all THAT bad (although he split time with Ron Kellogg III because sure, that is a great contingency plan to Taylor Martinez). I tried to find a real actual disaster, but there really hasn’t been one.

As for Penix, I actually think he has the potential to do this thing. He knows the offense, which is super important in this ridiculously weird year, and with everything around him, he should be fine. We will see if that actually happens, but I think he can make this offense hum.

WSR: Best case? I’m going to go with Tanner Morgan. Stepped in for fellow true FR in the Nebraska beatdown in 2018, played decently down the stretch, and then 2019 happened. One of the best years in program history as a QB that was among the best in the country. It’s kinda weird not having any concerns about the QB spot for me, but I’ll take it.

Worst Case? Well, you combine a coaching change with a full change in philosophy and mix in a guy who is more focused on recruiting than coaching football and you get...Adam Weber. It’s not that he was ever horrible, but he got the everliving shit beaten out of him his first two seasons and was banged up the rest of his time here. That first year though...woof. Comes to campus, gets to go 1-11 0-8 B1G, throws 449 times (which means he’s getting hit a ton), ran another 146 times (which means he’s getting hit even more still), did throw for 24 TD, but 19 INT as well. Dude just got walloped, but he kept getting back up.

I said years ago that Gopher fans would appreciate Weber more and more as time went on, and it’s true. He gave everything he had for the program, but it just wasn’t enough to overcome Tim Brewster.

I think Penix can be counted on to whip out the best of the Indiana offense, but I’m worried about if he’ll make it though again. Hopefully he can give us a full season (LOL we’re not getting a full season of football) and give IU fans something to be excited about going forward.

MNW: Well, we just lived through a season of Hunter Johnson getting battered as we found out he might not have been ready to take the reins of a Big Ten offense (or at least a Mick McCall/Pat Fitzgerald “You’re gonna get sacked 5 times a game but you’re gonna get sacked LIKE A MAN” offense). So...let’s call that the worst case for now, shall we?

Clayton Thorson DID walk into the gig in 2015 and promptly run into our hearts with that touchdown scamper against Stanford, but he didn’t grow into the role until his subsequent years. In terms of his poise and willingness to grow for the team, though, he’s a gold standard.

Long before Thorson, frosh Brett Basanez took over the Northwestern offense from Zac Kustok in 2002, then brought the ‘Cats to the Motor City Bowl in 2003 and the Sun Bowl in 2005. He was pretty OK at football, if you ask me.

Oh yeah, Penix. I think when I wrote this question I was a little harsh—Penix is, by his personal identification, a pro-style QB who can run the ball if needed, and I think that fits the kind of offense Tom Allen wants: Run-first, with a QB who can complete the standard passes and bail himself out as needed. To be honest, as long as Indiana’s not on Northwestern’s schedule, I’m excited to see what Penix can do.

Where I’d worry is if Indiana doesn’t have a true tight end. Hendershot probbbbably shouldn’t be in a lineup this year—though Allen seems much more the “forgive a man” kind of Christian rock listener—and that leaves South Alabama grad transfer Kham Taylor (7 rec for 85 yards and a TD in two years) and backup TE Matt Bjorson. Absent an option over the middle, we’ll see if the Hoosiers’ offensive line potential—both 6’8” Caleb Jones and Stanford G transfer Dylan Powell—can hold up against the Big East’s finest.

BRT: Jesse did a fairly thorough job covering Husker QB best and worst froshes, so I won’t belabor that point.

As for Penix, I’m not sure why Indiana wouldn’t stick with him. The biggest barrier for Indiana isn’t really going to be who is at QB, it’s going to be finding a way to overcome the innate Indiananess that consistently leads them to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I’m not sure they can do that, but at least they can rest easy in the knowledge that they have hands-down the best named offense in the nation, with Penix, Whop Philyor, and Fryfogel.

Just excellent stuff there.

Beez: I think you ride Penix until he gets hurt. He put up some good numbers last year, didn’t he? (goes back to re-read the MNW intro and….yeah he had some good numbers!)

[MNW note: Finally, one of the writers reads the part where I literally do the work for them.]

Poll

Indiana offense?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    High-flying and one of the best in the conference—long live a 55-51 loss to Michigan!
    (17 votes)
  • 55%
    Injury-riddled but capable—long live a 35-31 loss to Michigan!
    (32 votes)
  • 15%
    Solved and shut down—long live a 14-10 loss to Michigan!
    (9 votes)
58 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Is there a better-named offensive squad in the Big Ten?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Nope—Indiana finally wins.
    (40 votes)
  • 1%
    Yes, and I’ll tell you who in the comments.
    (1 vote)
  • 25%
    Jake Butt
    (14 votes)
55 votes total Vote Now

The Food/Drink

In terms of the risks attendant with Penix’s health and the potential for a good time with the Indiana offense—and our very real bucket-a-day policy for Indiana Week—we return to a risky Bloomington classic: Sink the Biz.

This is apparently a very real game that, while I pray to God no one in Bloomington is playing it right now, definitely earned me Cool Points for knowing what it was when I was in town for an academic conference. (No, no one wanted to play. It’s a big regret that I didn’t pal up with a random table.)

From the “Official Rules” from this surely-reputable and definitely-not-problematic website I just kind of googled and found:

  • Get a bucket. (Nick’s even sells whole kits, if you want one!)
  • Fill it with a cheap light beer.
  • Get a glass weighted to float in the beer. (Apparently only Nick’s has them.) Float it in the beer.
  • Get yourself a pint glass filled with the same beer as the bucket.
  • Going in a circle, pour a steady stream of beer from your pint into the center pint—as long as the stream is healthy and doesn’t break, you’re good. Go ‘til you think you’re done, then it passes to the next person.
  • “Whoever sinks it, drinks it.”

So, writers:

(1) Wouldja? Haveya? Assess for us “Sink the Biz”.
(2) Tell us your probably-super-dangerous collegiate drinking game—usually complete with proprietary rules—of choice that now you shake your head and wonder “why the fuck would I do that?”

babaoreally: 1) I have never done that, but it looks like fun except for part where you are forced to drink.

2) I’m lame and never really hung out with people who played drinking games. We drank, but never as part of a game. The closest I can remember to ritual drinking was that one friend said we were going to watch The Big Lebowski every week on Wednesday and drink White Russians while we watched. I think it lasted two weeks before he got tired of it and we no longer did it.

pkloa: I’m entirely too old for that stuff, hard pass.

I wasn’t always so pathetic, though. Buddy called for a game of Buffalo in a German Abbey. You can only drink with your left hand, get caught drinking with the right, you have to keep the beer touching your lips until you finish it. Easy. Nobody gets caught for our first round (1.5L German hefeweizens).

New round comes out, same buddy gets up for the bathroom, before even taking so much as a sip. While he’s out, I rotate his mug so the handle is now on the right. I casually waited for him to return. No sooner did he begin, than I sprang the trap. If I could feed on devastation, I’d have eaten well that day.

Jesse: Uh… I’m not only old but don’t really do drinking games so yeah… But, this doesn’t look all THAT ridiculous when you think about the general premise of drinking games (primarily, drink as much as you can in probably the most disgusting way possible).

As for my younger day drinking games, I didn’t do anything that anyone else didn’t do, but I do remember playing shot checkers with random clear liquors and getting quadruple jumped for reasons. Fun fact, that was also the night I ended up playing Marco Polo in a random state park and getting chased - or at least, yelled at - by Park Ranger types. So yeah, that was a whole thing.

WSR: Oh man, that seems like a bad idea. I’d probably give it a try.

I’m not sure which drinking game was the worst idea. There was the karkov race between myself and a friend from wisconsin where we were armed with a liter of karkov and 5 packets of kool aid, the South Park movie drinking game (drink every time someone swears, songs excluded), and the NCAA Football drinking game where you had to sip for first downs allowed, chug for FGs, and finish your beer for TD. None of them were good for me, and I should probably have declined more often.

MNW: I’ve not played Sink the Biz, but it seems like a game that I would’ve played either before the age of 25 or would now play in the comfort of my home with a proper set of bucket/glasses and 2-3 people I really trust. But that’d be it. I’ve consumed beer at Nick’s. I ain’t playing this game at Nick’s.

The other drinking game habit that coronavirus has made me rethink is the very correct and proper way that I play beer pong. The beer goes in the cups. I will brook no dissent on that. HOWEVER, when there’s a pandemic, you tend to think twice about it.

In terms of proprietary games, ours mostly consisted of a lot of variations on beer pong — strange house rules and the like. We would occasionally make up drinking games while watching Chopped (Aron over-pronounces Spanish words, etc.) or the Bulls (Stacey Funk nicknames, mostly, with a “finish your drink” for a White Mamba sighting)...and the other that I still play with friends is the 1776 drinking game.

Beez: I’m not sure what the point of Sink the Biz is. Like, I dump out some of my OWN beer into a pint glass filled with other people’s beer, and the goal is to not have to drink the beer even though I dumped my own beer into it? I get that there’s some “oh dang, now you have to drink all this bad beer in addition to the beer you were drinking and also pouring away” fun to this, but also I’m old now and I don’t at all see the point of the game.

I think my college drinking life was pretty vanilla as far as college goes, just the standard drinking games. My lifelong recommendation that definitely works better once you’re of an age to have your own deck or garage is to play Slap Cup, which involves bouncing ping pong balls into cups and moving them around the table, trying to “catch up” with the person next to you and then slapping the shit out of their cup before they can sink the ball.

Bman31: I can’t speak for Sink the Biz. It sounds like something bored college kids came up with in the 70s (TBF, aren’t most drinking games?)

Easily, the worst drinking game I ever encountered in my younger days was a game called “Connections”. The premise is simple. Everyone at the table is dealt out cards face down. The first player flips their card followed by the second. If there’s a connection (number or suit), you drink said number (Ace-1, King-13). The next card is flipped over and if there’s another connection, all three people drink, and so on.

One night during preseason at Training Table, my fellow dishwashers and student cooks and I proceeded to an apartment party with our refreshment of choice (at the time, I sprung for Bud Heavy as we end up flush with cash working long hours during preseason). Someone asked me if I wanted to play Connections. I, being of sound mind and body responded, “Never played before but I’m game.” The game was going along nicely until I drew the King of Hearts. The following card flipped was the Ace of Hearts. Welp, there goes a beer. I no more than finish that bottle before the next card flipped is the Ace of Clubs. Another connection, another beer. After chugging another, the 7 of Clubs. That’s 3 beers in 5 minutes. Finally, the connection was broken by the Queen of Spades.

Unfortunately for me, I hit two more large connections before the game was over and consumed two more beers. Not good. 5 beers in 15 minutes. Later that night, we head over to Triple XXX Root Beer Stand (back when it was open 24 hours). I get the biscuits and gravy and devour.

I had breakfast off the next morning but had to report around 10 for lunch. I was crazy hungover with a pounding headache but had held my stomach. I stumbled to Training Table. When one of my buddies saw me, he simply said, go get water and sit down. Me, in my wisdom, grabbed some orange juice. Big. Mistake. My stomach wasn’t ready for the acidity. I proceeded to make it to the bathroom and empty the contents of my stomach and what felt like most of my small intestine. After all this, I’m in the dish room loading the washer when Coach Joe Tiller returns his tray. He takes one look at me, smiles, and says, “Rough night, huh?”

All I could respond with was, “Yep.”

Poll

Sink the Biz?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Done it!
    (15 votes)
  • 11%
    Would do it!
    (6 votes)
  • 33%
    Would’ve done it before [/gestures around]!
    (18 votes)
  • 27%
    Gross. Never.
    (15 votes)
54 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Choose an OTE writer drinking game:

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    White Russians and Big Lebowski. Every. Week.
    (7 votes)
  • 5%
    Buffalo
    (2 votes)
  • 5%
    Shot checkers
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    Karkov race
    (1 vote)
  • 29%
    NCAA Football
    (11 votes)
  • 21%
    1776: The Drinking Game
    (8 votes)
  • 16%
    Connections
    (6 votes)
37 votes total Vote Now