Thursday, October 22, 2009

ESPN Video: What's Wrong With Terrelle Pryor?

Here's some food for thought to Buckeye fans from Olin Buchanan, College Football Senior Writer.

Q: From Nina in New Albany, Ohio: This may be the worst offense in the Jim Tressel era at Ohio State. Is it time for Tressel to look in the mirror and finally see that changes need to be made, whether with players, coaches or philosophy?

A: Yours is one of several emails received about quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the offensive issues at Ohio State.

So, to your first question: Yes, this could become the worst offense in Tressel's nine seasons. After seven games, the Buckeyes are averaging 331 yards and 28 points, but matchups remain against Penn State and Iowa, which have strong defenses.

Tressel's worst offensive team at Ohio State was in 2004, when the Buckeyes averaged 320.8 yards and 24.2 points. They went 8-4 that season.

Yes, it appears to be time for Tressel to reconsider his offensive philosophy, and changes should be made in an attempt to fully utilize Pryor's athletic ability.

Pryor, a sophomore, is getting heavy criticism from all directions. He was just 5-of-13 passing for 87 yards in a win over Wisconsin, then followed that up by throwing two interceptions in last week's 26-18 loss to Purdue. That's unacceptable in Columbus. Indeed, it's unacceptable most places.

But don't bury Pryor just yet. When he came out of Jeannette (Pa.) High, he was being compared to former Texas All-America Vince Young because of his size (6 feet 6/235 pounds) and physical gifts. Dramatic comparisons to Young still can be made.

Pryor is struggling. He's completing 56 percent of his passing attempts, for 1,169 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

But Young was a liability as a passer when he was a sophomore, too. Young passed for 1,849 yards with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2004. That season, he was just 8-of-23 for 86 yards in a 12-0 loss to Oklahoma and 3-of-9 for 19 yards and two interceptions the next week in a 28-20 victory over Missouri.

Some called for Young to be moved to tight end or wide receiver. But coach Mack Brown re-evaluated his system, junked a pro-style offense and almost exclusively went to the zone read, which was better-suited for Young's talents.

Texas didn't lose another game during Young's playing days, and he emerged as one of the best college football players ever.

That's not to say that Pryor will do the same if Tressel makes a similar move; it should be noted that Young had more talent around him than Pryor does. But it's something to consider.

After all, Tressel saw first hand what a player with Young's physical gifts could do. In '05, Young passed for 270 yards and ran for 76 in a 25-22 victory over Ohio State.

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