Andy Gottesman / The Lantern
After racking up 303 yards and six touchdowns through the air against Eastern Michigan last week, the Ohio State offense took a different approach Saturday in a 24-13 win over Illinois.
At halftime Saturday, Terrelle Pryor had just 48 yards passing.
Pryor connected with Brandon Saine on an 8-yard pass to put the Buckeyes on the board in the first.
An 11-yard pass to Dane Sanzenbacher late in the second quarter was Pryor’s only other passing play resulting in points.
The Buckeyes abandoned the pass game for several reasons.
Blustering winds throughout Memorial Stadium threw the team off early.
“We kind of knew that coming in and tried to adjust to that,” Sanzenbacher said.
Pryor’s injury in the third quarter was a source of concern. It seemed as if he would try anything before throwing the long ball.
“There was no way I could do anything about it, except to hand the ball off and get a couple passes,” he said. “But it kind of hurt even dropping back.”
Pryor said that he heard a pop when he hit full stride.
“It was probably the worst pain I had in a while,” Pryor said.
The sideline took note of Pryor’s absence.
“He’s valuable on this offense, but we feel like we’ve got guys that can come in and handle it,” Sanzenbacher said.
Pryor felt the same way with the support on the team.
“I went down and then we had a guy step up when we needed it,” Pryor said.
Another point of contention was a lack of trust in backup quarterback Joe Bauserman, who threw just two passes, one for an interception.
“We have confidence in Joe, but, obviously, when Terrelle can be out on the field we want him out there,” Sanzenbacher said.
When Pryor returned to the game, the conservative playbook came out.
With Pryor still in pain he found Dan Herron, who had seven carries on the first scoring drive of the fourth quarter.
“He was running motivated, running angry out there,” Sanzenbacher said.
Herron said that in the second half, the running backs knew they needed to step up.
“We had to pick it up so we had to go out there get some first downs and also get a touchdown,” Herron said.
Ben Buchanan said Herron was the strong back they needed.
“‘Boom’ is a great runner. He’s earned that name,” Buchanan said.
And then, of course, there’s history. The last three games of the 2009 regular season were dominated by the run game.
At Penn State on Nov. 7, 2009, Pryor threw for 125 yards and OSU rushed for 228 yards.
One week later against Iowa, Pryor threw for 93 yards and the Buckeyes rushed for 229 yards.
In the regular season finale against Michigan, Pryor completed 9 of 17 passes for just 67 yards, but the Buckeyes ran for 251 yards.
Pryor threw for just 76 yards against Illinois, but the run game picked up the slack, as OSU rushed for 213 yards.
This comes after Pryor had averaged nearly 27 pass attempts per game during OSU’s 4-0 start.
“I think we’ve talked about it earlier in the year when we’ve thrown the ball all the time and everybody’s asking is this foreshadowing for what’s to come,” Sanzenbacher said. “When it gets down to it we’re going to try to run the ball if we can get it going and that’s just what happened today.