Ohio State bounced back from last weeks' Purdue loss with a 38-7 victory over Minnesota this past Saturday. After enduring a week of media and fan back-lash - the Offense rebounded with over 500 yards of offense. Appearantly, last weeks scrutiny 'humbled' an admittedly 'cocky' Terrelle Pryor. Pryor referred to life lessons given to him from Lebron James and Shaquille O'Neal in a post-game interview. He talked about the fans impact, and how to deal with pressure. After scoring his first touchdown on Saturday - Pryor turned to the Ohio Stadium crowd as if to say, "how did you like that"...or..."how do you like me NOW".
Pryor dominated in every facet - accounting for 343 total yards and 3 touchdowns. His 13-25 for 231 yards and 2 td's(another on the ground) came with two dropped touchdown passes(we'll get to that later), and another rushing td called back by a hold that, despite the fact, would not have kept Pryor out of the endzone. He has 9 interceptions, and a slew of questionable decisions this season, but Pryor has accumulated yardage totals that cannot be denied. He has over 1400 yards passing and nearly 500 rushing through 8 games. He is projecting at 2300 passing and 800 rushing. I cannot help but think that, if not for the rain against Illinois, and the sheer lack of opportunities against Wisconsin, that Pryor could have easily been headed towards 2500/1000 numbers as a Sophmore - it may still be possible. But wait, aren't we talking about the 'worst qb in CF'? What happened to moving him to WR? What happened to benching him for an inexperienced back-up? There's no doubt that Terrelle has struggled at times this season, but his teammates have also contributed to that.
Devier Posey has dropped 4 touchdown passes in 2009. Four! In all fairness, Devier did finish the game with 161 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns - the biggest day in his collegiate career. Big day Devier, but let's squeeze those Td opportunites. You could have had 250 yards and 4 td's. The drops are not the only issue. The OL has put Pryor in some precarious positions with 20 false start penalties. Pryor's redzone production could be attributed as much to Tressel's' conservatism as it is to Pryor performance, and lastly, let's not forget that this is only a kid. Pryor cannot even buy a beer. He is a second year college student with the weight of 54,000 students, 10 million fans, and the pressure of being the most heralded HS football player in history, riding on his shoulders. I was not eavesdropping on his conversation with Lebron and Shaq, but I have the feeling that it went something like this,"do what you're meant to do - don't worry about the outcome, or the fans - just go out there and do what you do best".
The evaluation is quite simple really. When Terrelle Pryor protects the football and makes good decisions he is one of the most dangerous players in college football. When he squares his shoulders, and transfers his weight to his front leg, he is an underrated passer. He did that Saturday. He threw the ball away on Saturday too - I know, call the Dispatch(or the Beacon Journal:)). For Terrelle, 95% of his problems are mental. He's a smart kid, but he needs to make smart decisions. Saturday was a step in the right direction.
Brandon Saine went down with a concussion on Saturday. Tressel, fully commited to redshirting Jamaal Berry, turned to 3rd string Tb Jordan Hall.
Hall scored his first collegiate touchdown just as Dave Pasch said,"Ohio State has some Rb issues, well, not there". That was one of many ill-timed statements made by the ESPN law firm of Greise, Speilman, and Pasch. I don't know what's worse - having to listen to Speilman and Greise's' dislike for one another, or listening to a Michigan fan call a Buckeye game while throwing out the occasional racial slur.
The running back situation felt a little better after former Fb Jermil Martin spelled Hall with 75 yards on seven carries - including his first collegiate touchdown on a 39 yard scamper in the closing minutes of the ballgame. Martin, a big back at 5'10" 228, is just what the Doctor ordered - Doc Tressel that is. Tressel's older brother and Rb coach has been looking for a physical back to bring the same type of threat as Beanie did in the past. Saine runs physical, but has suffered his share of injuries. Martin is, perhaps, the best option between the tackles and in short yardage situations. He only had one attempt prior to Sat(toledo 1 for -2), but managed 10.7 yards a carry in what was, essentially, his college football debut. Not bad kid. Not bad at all.
The defense held a struggling Minnesota offense to 286 yards of total offense. 78 of those came against the second team defense on Minnesota's final drive - the only drive that went past the Ohio State 32 yard-line, and the one that denied OSU their 3rd shutout of the season. It was Minnesota's first touchdown in nearly 9 quarters of play - things made more difficult with playmaker Erik Decker on the sidelines in a boot following his re-aggravation of an ankle injury in the second quarter. Ohio State had 4 takeaways on Saturday giving them a total of 21 takeaways on the season. If I'm not mistaken - that leads the country. The defense looks good, but sorely awaits the return of Dexter Larimore. Dex is the the clog in the opponents' running game. Without Dex, the OSU defense is bend-don't-break, with Dex they don't even bend. Freshman John Simon and Senior Todd Denlinger have done an admirable job filling in, but after watching this defense without him, Dexter Larimore may be this defenses' most important component - the one that takes them to the next level. Hopefully, he'll be back for the homestretch against Iowa, PSU, and Michigan.
This week it's the Aggies from New Mexico St. The Buckeyes are 36 and a half pt favorites at home. Let's keep everybody healthy... get the back-ups some playing time... take the results with a grain of salt, and gain some momentum going into the meat of the conference schedule. See everybody next week from the 'B' Deck. Go Bucks! Stay Classy Columbus.