Quarterback Terrelle Pryor, 24-3 as a starter, has never delivered a performance worthy of a win in the eyes of his coaches.
These individual “losing” efforts include a game in which he completed 20 of 26 passes and accounted for six touchdowns and another that saw him earn Rose Bowl MVP honors.
The grading focuses on “your technique, your execution, (and) did you get the job done,” coach Jim Tressel said in an interview with The Lantern.
Every conceivable area of the individual’s game is graded. For the quarterback, that means everything from ball fakes on play action to footwork in the pocket to adjusting the play at the line of scrimmage.
Pryor’s highest grade of his career came on that 20-of-26-passing day against Eastern Michigan University.
Despite the gaudy numbers, his play was “not quite a winning performance — just under,” Tressel said.
The lack of a winning grade is linked to the intricacy of the grading process.
“It’s so complex, what they ask the quarterbacks to do,” said Steve Helwagen of recruiting website Bucknuts.com. “You’ve got to add up all the little things. They expect them to be as close to perfect as they can be.”
Other experts agree that the system is difficult.
“When it comes down to deciphering the code, it’s impossible,” said Kevin Noon, managing editor of recruiting website Buckeyegrove.com.
A winning performance is a minimum of 85 percent, Helwagen said.
Pryor isn’t the only quarterback who has struggled to make the grade.
Quarterback “coach (Nick) Siciliano is a harder grader than I was,” Tressel said. “I think (quarterback Craig) Krenzel got one in 14 games back in the day.”
Ohio State won all 14 of those games.
“We grade the same way, whether we won the game or lost it, regardless of who we played,” Tressel said. “I hope we’re as objective as we can possibly be.”
Quarterbacks aren’t the only players who struggle to earn the win.
After defeating EMU, 73-20, the team had few passing grades. Only one defender had a winning performance and only four or five offensive players, Tressel said.
Though he uses the grades as evaluative tools, Tressel is not directly involved in giving the grades.
“He’s not going to sit there and grade each play,” Helwagen said. “That’s the job of the position coach and the players themselves.”
Doing the grading requires focus and attention to detail.
“We challenge ourselves to critique the performance and not the performer,” Tressel said. “Sometimes you can not be happy with a guy for a missed class or whatever, and when we grade the film, we need to grade the performance.”
The grading might contradict the outcome of plays on the field. Incomplete passes can result in winning grades and big gains can go down as losses.
“They’re looking at everything, not just the end result that you see on TV,” Helwagen said.