Ohio State's Pryor still incomplete QB
It’s always been Jim Tressel’s fault.
Blame the Ohio State coach’s conservative, button-up offense that’s as boring as his trademark sweater vest for Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor’s so far underachieving career.
At least, that’s been the view for why the dual-threat Pryor hasn’t yet lived up to his billing coming out of Jeannette (Pa.) High School as the next Vince Young.
But with Pryor’s 346 total yards and two touchdowns in second-ranked Ohio State’s underwhelming, 36-24 win Saturday against No. 12 Miami in a bizarre game, the usual pundits will continue to tout that he has arrived, a theme that began when he was named the most valuable offensive player of last season’s Rose Bowl. They’ll talk about him being a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy.
But the problem is the 6-foot-6, 233-pound junior continues to have more head-scratching moments than flashes of brilliance like he did against the Hurricanes.
He threw incompletions every way imaginable. He struggled managing the clock just before halftime, which prompted a smattering of boos from Ohio State fans.
And for such a dynamic threat, he routinely failed to make plays on third down, forcing his team to settle for five field goals.
“I felt like some of my decisions weren’t great,” Pryor said.
Yet Pryor’s flaws didn’t end up mattering in this game. After all, Miami beat itself with quarterback Jacory Harris’ four interceptions that led to 20 points for Ohio State.
But truth be told, if they converted opportunities offensively, Pryor and the Buckeyes should have won this game in a blowout instead of making a fourth-quarter defensive stand to snuff out a hollow Miami comeback effort.
Tressel, though, sugarcoated the victory and described Miami as a top-10 team. Get real, these Hurricanes are rebuilding.
Because against a real top-10 team, Pryor’s inconsistent passing loses games. Granted, he had 233 passing yards, of which 80 came on back-to-back plays in the second quarter, but he only completed 12 of 27 passes.
To say his passing was erratic would be like saying the BP oil spill was just a leak. He threw behind wide-open receivers, overthrew others and shorted-armed passes.
He saw almost-sure interceptions dropped by Miami defenders, rocketed passes through receivers’ hands and threw others at their feet.
One of Pryor’s most perplexing plays came in the second quarter on third-and-goal from the Miami 4-yard line. He threw behind wide-open tight end Jake Stoneburner in the end zone and could have seemingly also run for a touchdown.
Regardless, he looked torn between whether to pass or run on the play. Yet on his two consecutive passes for 80 yards, he teased us with his potential.
On the first, he found wide receiver DeVier Posey for 62 yards down the left sideline. And on the next play, he threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to tailback Brandon Saine.
“I thought he did some good things,” Tressel said.
Yet even Tressel in all his guff about beating the mighty Hurricanes acknowledged that Pryor completing only 44 percent of his passes wasn’t exactly spectacular.
“We’d like to be a little better than that,” Tressel said.
With Pryor now having made 25 career starts, it should be. Instead, we’re still waiting for his arm to catch up with his legs, which got him 113 yards rushing on 20 carries and included a 13-yard touchdown run.
And for once, Pryor actually seemed satisfied with Ohio State’s offensive play-calling against Miami.
“There was a bunch of times I told Coach: ‘This is the play we’re going to run,’ and we ran the play,” he said. “It took me three years to maybe get two plays called that I wanted. I’m glad Coach Tressel believes in me.”
But Pryor has a far different opinion about how his passing ability has progressed. He described it as “very good.”
Let’s not kid ourselves. Pryor is still a work-in-progress, and even his teammates know it. Not exactly a glowing endorsement for someone leading a supposed national championship-caliber team.
“In practice, we’ve seen him be consistent,” Saine said. “He’s right there on the edge. I think he can easily do it. I’m sure that he will.”
And after taking a final knee to end the game, Pryor celebrated by throwing the ball from between the hashes near the Miami 10-yard line into the first 10 rows of the stadium’s west stands.
That actually might have been the best pass he threw all day. Of course, it was probably Tressel’s fault that it wasn’t caught.