BLOOMINGTON – For the third time this season, there is uncertainty at quarterback for Indiana.
Confidence is high, so that shouldn't be an issue.
Redshirt junior Peyton Ramsey piloted Indiana (5-2, 2-2 in the Big Ten) to a 34-28 road win at Maryland (3-4, 1-3) in relief following a first-half injury to starter Michael Penix Jr.
Just as was the case at the start of conference play, Penix will be a game time decision for the Saturday afternoon game at Nebraska (4-3, 2-2).
But with a chance to secure bowl eligibility in front of them, the Hoosiers aren't showing the same signs of concern that crept to the surface when Ramsey filled in for Penix against Ohio State and Connecticut.
“If you know Peyton, he's just L.E.O. (Love Each Other),” fifth-year wide receiver Nick Westbrook said. “He lives it out to the fullest, and he cares so much about this team.”
Ramsey's stats against the Terrapins (20-27, 193 passing yards, one passing touchdown and 46 rushing yards) came along with Indiana's most balanced offensive performance of the season.
Sophomore Stevie Scott rushed for 108 yards and two scores, but Indiana's ability to move the football stemmed from Ramsey's inherent playbook knowledge.
“We still have the same offense, the same scheme,” Westbrook said. “(A quarterback change) doesn't change anything with our play calling at all.”
Offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer, in his first season at Indiana, has taken advantage of the overlap in Penix and Ramsey's style of play. The playbook is altered, but only slightly, when Ramsey replaces the redshirt freshman.
“You just know what he (Ramsey) feels comfortable with, how he attacks things,” DeBoer said. “He's the same guy now, I imagine, as he was last year when he was the starter from the beginning.
I know that he's going to be ready to go, there's no doubt about it in my mind.”
The reason why the on-field product isn't affected is due to Ramsey's off-field work habits.
Despite his August demotion to being a backup, Ramsey still brings an energetic and vocal presence to Indiana's practices.
He played a significant role with the Hoosiers in 2017 and 2018, affording him the credibility to be a leader to teammates while lacking a starting role.
“It hasn't been easy to wake up every day and want to come in and want to watch film and do all that stuff,” Ramsey said.
“I told myself at the beginning of the year that I didn't know when my number was going to be called, but I had a feeling that at some point this team was going to need me.”
When asked why he was still at Indiana, in an era populated with college athletes seeking more playing time by entering the NCAA transfer portal, Ramsey cited his upbringing and the way his parents, Cherie and Doug, instilled the correct values in him.
“It's not about football at that point,” Ramsey said. “It's about the kind of person that you are and the kind of teammate that you are.”
With head coach Tom Allen unsure of Penix's practice availability this week, those principles from Ramsey's childhood may soon get tested in front of 90,000 Cornhuskers fans.
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
TV: Big Ten Network