Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ohio State's Quarterback Enigma: Lack of Depth Behind Terrelle Pryor a Big Concern?

By Doug Tarnovich - BlockONation.com Contribtor

In the first game of the 2009 season, the Oklahoma Sooners lost Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Sam Bradford to what would end up becoming a season ending shoulder injury. That left things up to his backup Landry Jones, and though an 8-5 record isn't what folks hope for in Norman, they should be pleased with a second stringer who threw for more than 3,100 yards and 26 touchdowns.

Texas lost Colt McCoy in the national championship game against Alabama. The Crimson Tide was already favored, but without the Longhorns' best player, Texas should have been blown out of the water.

Not so.

Garrett Gilbert, a freshman, managed to bring Texas within a field goal half way through the fourth quarter before Alabama pulled away for good. Typically, two touchdowns to four interceptions is pretty bad. But considering the circumstances, Gilbert did all his coach, teammates, and fans could've asked for.

Both quarterbacks were highly recruited to be the heir apparent. Both led their high school teams to state titles. Both are highly decorated. They each boast crazy statistics.

Here's a couple of questions for you, Buckeye fans:

Who is Ohio State's Landry Jones?

Who is the Buckeye version of Garrett Gilbert?

Could Kenny Guiton or Taylor Graham keep the Buckeye offense competitiveve if Terrelle Pryor were to go down? Maybe. Nobody thought much of Troy Smith when he came to Columbus. But the facts are the facts.

Guiton was a three-star recruit who the Buckeyes snagged only after they whiffed at elite prospect Tajh Boyd who opted for Clemson. In other words, Guiton was an afterthought.

Graham hasn't played a full season since he was a sophomore at Wheaton North High School in Wheaton, IL. He broke his ankle during the fifth game of his junior year then tore his PCL the following year, missing the strong majority of the schedule. Maybe that's why he was only given a two-star rating.

Neither prospect was highly sought after. Neither got offers from other perennial powerhouse college programs. Neither led their respective teams to state championships. Neither received any prestigious awards. On paper, the prospects aren't too encouraging.

What about Joe Bauserman? Any analysis there?

Yeah. Bad. That's all you need to know. And by the way, "Bad" was all the Buckeyes had last year for a backup.

Why does the Ohio State University—highly ranked every year with multiple BCS bowl appearances, great recruiting, and a gateway to the NFL—have such a dilemma when it comes to football's most important position? Quarterbacks should be breaking down the door, but havn't been the last couple of years.

Perhaps the explanation can be found in the fact that Terrelle Pryor, as a sophomore, was the unquestioned starter for the 2009 season. Certainly, a more immediate chance to start made a convincing argument too tempting for Boyd to turn down. Perhaps Pryor was just a year too young to make room for a future star at the position unless, of course, Pryor laid an egg against an inferior opponent.

Oh, wait. That actually happened.

Some called for Pryor to move to wide receiver. Maybe he would have succeeded as such had he a competent No. 2 throwing the ball. Head coach Jim Tressel apparently didn't think he did. As bad as Terrelle played against Purdue, the other options were far less appealing.

But this offseason has yielded some good news. Guiton had a solid performance in the spring game, leading the Gray team to a 17-14 victory. He completed 11 out of 21 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. There are also reports that Graham had a good showing at Ohio State's jersey scrimmage.

Whoever it is, one of these guys needs to step it up. It'll be another year before star recruit Braxton Miller puts on the scarlet and gray. In the meantime, there needs to be at least one valid option in case something happens with Pryor, be it injury or meltdown.

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