Let’s be honest; Ohio State can’t win big games, at least not in recent memory. On Saturday, they proved they might now struggle to win the little games, too.
So, when was Ohio State’s last big victory? Simple: March 19, 2008.
That was the day Ohio State got its biggest victory since 2002. It won the recruiting battle for one of the most highly touted recruits of all time, Terrelle Pryor.
The 6-feet 6-inches, 235 pound quarterback picked Ohio State over arch rivals Michigan and Penn State.
So far, it hasn’t been easy, but I sure wouldn’t want to see Pryor wearing Blue and Maize or White.
Lately, some critics would rather see Pryor become the most highly touted wide receiver of all-time.
Pryor’s lack of progression is frustrating, but it cannot be put solely on his shoulders.
Losing starters at both wideout positions, running back, tight end, and several linemen has left Pryor to rebuild the offense and to progress at the same time.
When he made a mistake last season, it was easy to turn around and hand the ball to Chris Wells. Wells is gone, and so are the options to take the pressure off OSU’s young, struggling quarterback.
Pryor is the only playmaker left on this offense. He said after Saturday’s loss that he is looking for the big plays too much and needs to let them come to him.
Big plays will come, and when they do, the skeptics won’t be talking about him playing any position other then quarterback.
For the critics who think an “athlete” can’t play under center, their memories escape them. A former “athlete” named Troy Smith won the Heisman Trophy at quarterback in 2006. He also beat Michigan three times as a Buckeye.
Smith didn’t struggle as much as Pryor did as a sophomore; that’s because he didn’t play quarterback then. He returned punts.
When Smith finally started taking snaps under center, his progression was aided by two first-round wideouts and the first OSU running back to run for 1,000 yards as a sophomore since Archie Griffin. Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez and Antonio Pittman made Smith’s life easier. Pryor doesn’t have those luxuries.
Young quarterbacks struggle, and Pryor is young. Ask Jimmy Clausen, the No. 1 quarterback recruit the year before Pryor, how his first two years at Notre Dame went.
He would tell you they didn’t go as well as planned, throwing 23 interceptions. Now as a junior, his 14-2 touchdown to interception ratio has him in the thick of the Heisman race.
One thing that must change for Pryor to be successful is that he must realize who he is. He isn’t Colt McCoy or Sam Bradford. Terrelle Pryor is Terrelle Pryor, and to be successful he will need to use his legs first, until his arm can catch up to them. The coaching staff should embrace and use his abilities, not try to change them, but build on them.
His first interception on Saturday, in which he tried to throw to a covered Duron Carter, is the perfect example.
Pryor could have run up the middle for a positive gain, but instead he hurled a ball downfield trying to make a play with his arm.
This attempt to make Pryor a passer first has taken away his edge. Obviously, Pryor will need to blend both the run and pass to be successful, but right now his legs are his strength, so why not use them?
As a freshman and sophomore, Vince Young couldn’t seem to trust his arm. He had 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions going into his redshirt junior year, but Texas used his running ability to neutralize opposing defenses. At points in those first two years, some critics might have seen Young as a wideout playing quarterback; fortunately for Texas, they were wrong.
His final year in college, when Young’s arm finally caught up to his legs, he was lethal. Ask Ohio State and USC, who Young passed over, and ran past on his way to holding up a crystal football.
In the future, Terrelle Pryor may also hold up the same National Championship trophy that Young did; only time will tell. It’s time, however, that Terrelle deserves.
One thing is for certain, if Pryor does hold up that crystal football one day, he will definitely do it as a quarterback.