The following article was written by Kurt Mews for The Bleacher Report, a sports blog. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, it’s thought provoking nonetheless. Enjoy . . .
Terrelle Pryor, the highly recruited prize QB recruit for perennial powerhouse Ohio State is supposed to be Superman and the next coming of Vince Young. Of course that's what most College football fans expected after Terrelle delayed his announcement of which college he planned to bless his skills. Most fans are impressed with Ohio State's rugged Defense anchored by their deep and talented line, already taking it to the talented USC line and typical massive Badger line. However, the offense leaves much to be desired and many believe that if The Buckeye's offense were even mediocre at best, they would of toppled USC and be the clear favorites to clinch The rather bland or weak Big Ten. Much of the blame for Ohio State's sluggish offensive performance is being laid at Terrelle Pryor's feet, or should we say arm or head. The 2008 #1 recruit is suppose to be leading an offensive 'Blitzkrieg' that is to leave fans shaking their heads much like Troy Smith's lead explosive Buckeye offense of '06. However, it's time for College football fans, specifically Ohio State fans to be a bit more objective and give him a break!! Let's take a look at some simple facts;
1. Terrelle is a TRUE SOPHOMORE, not of the red shirt variety!
2. Pryor has lost only three games as a starter all against top tier teams in which, guess what, the Defense gave up the lead. Two of these losses came while he was a true FRESHMAN!! No doubt, The Buckeye's offense could of scored more points, but those losses were against stingy defenses from Penn State and TX and USC, all teams ranked #3 or better!!
3. Pryor's won loss record these past two years are better than most elite programs in our nation.
4. The Pryor lead offensive attack this season is without key skill players who are now in NFL uniforms. This includes the power back Beanie Wells who went in the first round, the sure handed Brian Robiskie who was drafted in round two, and the possession receiver Brian Hartline who went in the middle rounds. Share with me a few other QB's who must deal with such losses.
5. Let's take an objective look at The Buckeye's win over the Wisconsin Badgers. I'm talking specifically to faithful Ohio State and nation wide college football fans.
a. The Buckeye offense due to the flu bug and injury was without key offensive line starters and this is a talented, but young an inexperienced group.
b. The Buckeye's only experienced running back, 'Boom Boom' Herron, was dealing with injuries and left early in Saturday's game due to an ankle injury. That left the talented, but rather inexperienced Saine to be the only reliable running back and Wisconsin knew that. Saine's only reliable back up is small, quick, but green Hall. Sorry, Tressell isn't going to gamble with him!
c. True, Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State's offense struggled earlier. Pryor threw a terrible pick and the offense was held to nearly only 40 yards deep into the first half in which The Badgers gained a 10-7 lead. BUT....when it appeared that Wisconsin grabbed the momentum and clearly had the Buckeye offense under wraps...
1. Terrelle placed the offense on his shoulder and with key runs and sharp passes moved the ball into Wisconsin territory. Pryor then threw a beautiful TD pass to grab the momentum and lead which Ohio State took into half time and never looked back.
2. In the 2nd half, Wisconsin received the full wrath of Ohio State's talent as their defense and special teams built a 28-13 lead. Wisconsin went on two impressive, time consuming drives that gained only 3 meager points and Ohio State's offense spent most of that quarter sitting on pine. After Wisconsin kicked a FG to reduce Ohio State's lead to 15 points, the Pryor lead offense touched the ball for the first time in the 2nd half with only about 3 minutes left in the quarter. In what appeared to be a typical Buckeye 3 and out, Terrelle took off and seemed to be 3-4 yards short of a first down, meaning The Badgers would get the ball back and the tired OSU defense would need to slug it out again with nearly 18 minutes left to play! However, by sheer will power and the assistance of determined Buckeye line men, Terrelle landed across that golden first down line!. To the joy of Ohio State fans as the game entered the fourth quarter his sharp passes and legs moved The Buckeyes inside WISKY's ten yard line. More importantly, The Badgers enemy, the clock was in the 12 minutes til the end of the game range with the ball still in Pryor's hands. Ohio State had to settle for a field goal, but CRUCIALLY The Buckeyes built a three score lead, gave their Defense some decent rest time, and with the game well into the fourth quarter forced Wisconsin into an uncomfortable position. Their new QB had to pass to get them back into the game and for a power running team that needs long time consuming drives, the game was clearly in Ohio State's hands.
3. After the Defense forced Tolzein and his Badgers into fourth and long, Ohio State got the ball with nearly 8 minutes left in the game and typical Tressell ball came into play. Tressell ball is build a lead, play conservatively which means run, grind out the clock and if needed, punt. Tressell ball is let The Buckeyes great general do it's job, play solid defense with everything in front of them. Interpretation: Don't blame Terrelle Pryor for more production during this time!!
4. IN OTHER WORDS, WHEN OHIO STATE NEEDED IT, TERRELLE PRYOR LATE IN THE SECOND TO THE FOURTH QUARTER PRODUCED WHEN THE GAME WAS ON THE LINE!!
5. Oh , and while we complain about Ohio State's offense, it OUTSCORED The Badgers 10-6!! (Remember, in case you didn't view the game and are listening to posts like this or reading headlines, Ohio State scored two Defensive TD's and one Special teams Touchdown. Wisconsin scored 6 points due to their offense and their lone touchdown came as a result of a deep interception threw by Terrelle and a diving special team play of a faked Field goal!!)
Now, don't get me wrong, Terrelle Pryor needs much improvement, but he does perform. If Terrelle is performing like this next year or the year after, there is a valid overrated point! While it's not sexy or statistically overwheming, this true SOPHOMORE gets the job done. I happen to agree with ESPN's analyst Robert Smith who believes OSU's Offense woes is due to their missing a power running game. Imagine this Ohio State fans, imagine Beanie Wells in this backfield!! Terrelle at times seems hesitant, and at times makes decent throws. Expect Tressell to use Pryor to manage, not to win games as the sweater vests has done rather successfully in years past. It would also help Pryor if Ohio State would open up the offense game plan book much like Wisconsin did this past week utlilzing WR's as Running backs, screens and misdirection plays. As shared, my hope is that College football fans would be objective or should I say MORE OBJECTIVE about Terrell'e progress and performance, remember it's ultimately about wins and losses!
Kurt Mews, for The Bleacher Report