Five Things: Eastern Michigan

By Chris Lauderback on September 27, 2010 at 6:00a
Pryor: 4 passing, 1 rushing, 1 receiving. Heisman voters: on notice

The HEartbeat

Another ho-hum performance, I'd say. Sure, it was Eastern Michigan - possibly the worst defensive team I've ever seen - but to see Terrelle Pryor once again come out blazing is just the latest reminder this isn't your average Ohio State offense. Realizing that the line won't be able to push around the top defensive lines in the country and that he's got what appears to be a fully mature Pryor at the controls, Jim Tressel seems compelled to repeatedly attack defenses with his best weapon, without mercy.

The final stat line was a little deceptive as it showed OSU throwing for 303 and rushing for 342 but in the first half, it was all Pryor, all the time. The apparent test tube creation with the fresh box top bullied EMU for 13/17 through the air, good for 164 yards and 3 TD with another 82 yards on the ground (4 carries) including a 53 yard dash to pay dirt steering the Buckeyes to a 38-14 halftime cushion. I'll do the math for you: Pryor's opening 30 minutes produced 246 of Ohio State's 306 total yards and four of their five touchdowns.

Oh, and then in third quarter Pryor trotted back out to lead the Buckeyes on a nine play, 67 yard march that saw him rush twice for 22 yards and hit 4/6 passes including his fourth TD strike of the day to Dane Sanzenbacher. That kinda had me thinking he might go ahead and call in sick the rest of the afternoon but two possessions later he was back at it slinging two straight lasers to Philly Brown and Boom Herron before himself becoming a receiver and hauling in a 20 yard TD toss from Jordan Hall - his sixth TD of the afternoon. With the score now at 52-20, Superman eventually decided to go back to the locker room, remove his cape, take a squirt and come back out to cheer on his teammates.

Again, not forgetting the opponent, this was still a day for Heisman voters and opposing teams to take notice. Not that there was ever a question that this is Pryor's team, but what keeps impressing me is how eagerly and aggressively he is putting his arms around his team. He's doing it on the field by standing in the pocket and delivering a perfectly thrown 31 yard post to Dane for a TD as a defender goes for his ankles and by stiff arming a defensive tackle to the turf on another scramble following a scan of his progressions - amongst other standout plays - plus he's doing it on the sideline staying in the ear of Kenny Guiton, cheering on his buddy Hall and screaming for the team to maintain their intensity. My, how far this kid has come.

holes in the pass defense

It's hard to be unhappy when your team wins 73-20 however the aftermath from Saturday has triggered some questions about the Silver Bullets, particulary the pass defense. The birth of the discussion came as EMU took possession for the fifth time, trailing 24-0 nearing the end of the first quarter. Starting from his own 27 yard line, QB Alex Gillett engineered a nine play, 75 yard TD drive connecting on 5/5 passes against a sieve-like defense. The notable plays on the drive started as Tyler Moeller was a little soft in coverage on a 3rd and 5 completion. After a 1st down run for no gain, Devon Torrence appeared to try and jump what he thought was a quick out route but when the receiver then cut upfield Torrence failed to look back and instead played bumper cars with the EMU receiver resulting in an easy PI call and an EMU 1st down at the OSU 48 yard line. On the next play, Gillett connected with his favorite target, tight end Ben Thayer, on a wide open quick toss to the right flat. John Simon tried to get down the line but found no help from the linebackers until Rolle and others finally converged after a 14 yard gain to the OSU 34 yard line. Gillett would further expose the linebackers on the next play when he again connected with Thayer, who found a seam down the middle after Rolle and more notably, Ross Homan, bit hard on play action, earning 20 yards to the Buckeye 14. No blaming the safeties or Pittsburgh Brown on that one. After a sack via a blitz from Jermale Hines coupled with a bull rush from Larimore backed EMU up to the OSU 21, Gillett went back to work picking on Rolle, who went into his drop with no problem but failed to rotate left as Donald Scott snagged a 19 yard reception just past Rolle's outstretched arms and in front of Hines at the 2 yard line. Dwayne Priest scored on the next play as the D went back to the bench to regroup leading 24-7. First, let me say that I have nothing but the utmost confidence in Rolle and Homan, probably ahead of any other Buckeye defenders, but they seemed most culpable for the scoring drive, not the secondary that would at first glance be deemed most responsible. What's most concerning here is that the tight end killed OSU today and that needs fixed because teams like Wisconsin and Iowa will exploit such an issue if not corrected.

Two EMU possessions later, the Buckeye D took the field up 38-7 with 4:18 left in the half. The drive started with a harmless four yard out in front of Homan setting up 2nd and 6 at the EMU 31. Rolle blitzed and just missed a sack but Gillett got off a nice throw to Kinsman Thomas who was running a post route and while Torrence had decent coverage, the perfectly thrown ball found its target, good for a 41 yard pickup. I can't say for sure what his responsibility was, but the completion seemed aided by Orhian Johnson's complete lack of anticipation. Watching the replay, Johnson initially cheated up a bit to spy a crossing route but with Gillett unleasing a throw down the middle, Johnson didn't recognize it nor back pedaled fast enough to give Torrence help over the top. Credit Gillett with a great throw but the play didn't appear to be Johnson's best effort of the day. After the next three plays chewed up 15 yards rushing, Gillett threw a 2nd and 8 incompletion that Moeller almost picked setting up 3rd and 8 from the OSU 13. The Buckeyes dialed up a linebacker blitz again but EMU had a well timed slant called and Thomas easily stepped in front of Dominic Clarke for the 13 yard TD reception. For me, the drive showed some flaws in Johnson's game and told us what we already knew, this team is thin on experience in the secondary. With Chekwa out, Clarke has to be skilled enough to anticipate a hot and/or slant route once the QB reads LB blitz exposing the middle of the field. He didn't. They scored. Not the end of the world unless Chekwa or Torrence get hurt for an extended period in a big game. Of course, right now whether or not Chekwa can stay healthy is becoming a concern I didn't anticipate.

Tip your hat to Gillett. He looked pretty good (13/22, 200yds, 2 TD) and was willing to stand in the pocket and take some shots. Unfortunately for OSU, those shots came just after the throw in many cases. Part of me wants to believe the lack of sacks (2) came as the result of quick passing while part of me is only slightly concerned that the Buckeyes don't consistently generate a heavy pass rush without the aid of a blitz. What's your take? Admittedly, that wasn't a focal point during my re-watch.

Evil Tressel behind statistical hilarity?

A couple days removed, I'm still stunned that Jim Tressel willingly scored 73 points. Pryor and the other first teamers played nearly a full three quarters capping the day with third team tailback Hall tossing a TD pass to Pryor putting the Buckeyes up 52-20. So was that Evil Tressel leaving TP in or no? I guess I'll say it wasn't ET, instead it was Gentleman Jim not wanting to remove his starting QB after a lackluster three and out on the previous drive with OSU up just 45-20 midway through the 3rd quarter. The abbreviated and/or no-huddle offense could've also been misconstrued as Evil Tressel wanting to blow up the scoreboard but I loved his postgame commentary as to why he employed the strategy:

Yeah, we thought it would be good to come in and go quick tempo. We felt we probably had more depth than they, and we thought if we could come out and really make them play fast, frequent, that it would give us an advantage. Plus I think it helps you, sometimes you're in a nonconference game and everyone's talking about maybe the challenge isn't as great as some challenges. If you're out there and you're just going, you don't have time to think about anything other than execution.

Maybe I'm overthinking it but that is a helluva coaching move. The team knows they are gonna stomp out a terrible team so as one more way to keep them focused, Tressel goes with a hurry up look to keep the offense on their executional toes.

Also, you can't fault the staff for calling pass plays with Bauserman as late as the beginning of the 4th quarter because we all know the kid needs excessive work plus Ron English was still throwing the ball at will. Lastly, it wasn't Tressel's fault his 4th string tailback got loose for a 67 yard score to make it 66-20 midway through the 4th quarter. Some hilarious notes from the beatdown:

  • The 73 points were the most since an 83-21 shucking of Iowa back in 1950 and OSU's most ever under Tressel. 
  • OSU held EMU to 40 yards rushing on 1.4 per carry while the Buckeyes rushed for 342 yards on 8.3 per carry.
  • Devin Barclay nailed all 10 extra points and threw in a FG taboot.
  • Ten different Buckeyes ran it, 12 different Buckeyes caught it, three different Buckeyes threw it.
  • Punts: EMU 10, OSU 1
  • OSU Redzone: 7 trips, 7 TD

Great dane

How 'bout Dane Sanzenbacher? The senior co-captain had a career day hauling in nine passes for 108 yards including 4 TD in a record setting afternoon. The classy Toledo native's 4 TD catches tied the school's single-game TD reception record (Terry Glenn '95, Bob Grimes '52) and showcased his value to an attack hitting its stride through the air.

After grabbing 36 balls for 570 yards and six TD a year ago, Dane is on pace to demolish those numbers. Through four games, Sanzenbacher is OSU's leading receiver with 20 receptions, 316 yards and 5 TD, good for 79 yards receiving per game and a 15.8 average per catch.

His value to Pryor hinges largely on the fact that he runs precise routes and is not afraid to come across the middle which, now that Pryor goes through progressions, means Dane catches his eyesight more frequently. Pryor's take on Sanz:

"He's a slick little sneaky guy. He's sharp at route-running. He reminds me a lot of Brian Hartline and Anthony Gonzalez. He runs very pure and perfect routes. Me and him and most of the guys are on the same page, but I really have a connection with Dane because I understand his routes and how he's running it. And I understand DeVier as well. It's a blessing to have those two guys with me."


dirty hit? Nope. Just Dirty protection

Due to my hate for virtually everything Michigan not named Derek Jeter, I first thought EMU defensive end Brad Ohrman's diving hit into the lower left leg of Pryor just as he connected wth Sanzenbacher for a 31 yard TD to make it 14-0 was dirty. It wasn't. Watching the replay, the problem was that Mike Adams got abused by Ohrman as he went with a basic upfield rush before cutting back inside. Adams could do nothing but watch as his man beat him with the most standard of pass rush moves. Adams took two backward jab steps to the left before getting beat and giving up on the play. Ohrman, maybe surprised at the lack of resistance, lost his balance and stumbled toward Pryor before diving into his lower left leg and for a split second I was scared to death that after showing Dane celebrate six, the camera would pan back to Pryor holding his ankle in agony. I've been reading it from tons of respected sources lately but I've yet to reserve a seat on the Adams-has-turned-the-corner bandwagon.


Comments Show All Comments

buckeyedude's picture

I like the hurry-up offense. I think it is where TP is best. Keeps defenses guessing and confused.

It's funny to hear Terrelle say Dane "reminds me of...Anthony Gonzalez." I've been saying that since he was a freshman, and ever since I found 11W(I'm sure you're all sick of me saying it. LOL).  Dane, of course, is not Ted Ginn, but he is deceptively fast.

Could Adams be another Alex Boone in the making? I'm starting to think so, also.



Danny - Inside The Shoe's picture

I have also wondered where all the praise for Adams is coming from.  It's not like he has been bad or anything, but to me at least, he has clearly preformed the worst out of our starting o-line thus far.


I cringed after that hit as well.....  can't let the franchise go down like that fellas.  The quick tempo seems to be what Pryor thrives in....  he is the most athletic player I have ever seen at the QB postion (maybe any postion) since...... (wait for it)--Vince Young.  And I actually think he has a better grasp on his offense than you did at the same points in their careers.  If Pryor continues maturing he is gonna be downright scary come December and January let alone next year.  I see the light in his eyes as he is now able to have fun running a wide open offense instead of caretaking a button-up style.

Poe McKnoe's picture

It's criminal we haven't seen Jaamal Berry on the field with Terrelle Pryor...or is Jimmy T saving that for Big Ten play? Hmmm.

Carolina Buckeye's picture

I wouldn't say that he is saving it.  In most cases (exceptions being Clarett and Pryor) seniority rules under Tressel.  As long as Saine, Boom and Jordan Hall continue to play well I would be very surprised to see Berry play much at all with Pryor.  Unless we are reserving a two back set that would feature him with one of the other 3 running backs.  It would be nice but Berry's arrest and hamstring have put him in a position where he must bide his time until the opening comes

buckeye33's picture

Nice article, very succinct !  I too like many other fans believe our defense can be exposed by play action & throwing QB's. It is truly our one glaring weakness on defense. While I would like to get on the "Adams Bus", it seems that many of Pryors' sacks, Adams is standing looking back after being beaten badly ?


JoshAlum's picture

You feel like a dick complaining after a blow-out win, but seriously "Realizing that the line won't be able to push around the top defensive lines in the country" is not acceptable. These guys were the best talent coming out of highschool, and haven't progressed at all.

Yeah, we can pass, but, with the 4 and 5 star kids playing on the O-line, against Eastern Michigan we should be able to line up and run the Dave play with any kid out of the student section to a consisten 4-5 ypc.

What happens when a team like Wisconsin stacks 8 in the box, and we need a 1 yard 3rd down conversion?

buckeye33's picture

3rd & 1...Pryor runs roll out option.....Hard to stop.

Leanenaud's picture

I'm gonna hope this was just unwarranted complacentcy on the part of some players. I'm fairly certain Rolle and Heyward will have words all week with the defensive unit.

Matt's picture

I like the inclusion of the poster's handle in the recent comments section, nice improvement

btalbert25's picture

I think the defense will bounce back just fine.  There were a lot of near misses on sacks, and interceptions really for that matter, if those tries are converted we aren't complaining right now.  Sometimes it's just one of those games.  I for one won't be concerned unless it continues to be a problem this week and next week.  I have a feeling we will have a much different attitude on defense next week.  Guys like Rolle, Homan, and Heyward won't stand for that kind of play 2 weeks in a row.

I think Pryor is more athletic than Vince Young.  While he's not quite a finished product, he gets closer each week.  I think once he gets it all together, he will be a better QB than Vince Young.  Hopefully, then we can stop making the comparison and realize that Pryor is a class all his own.

I'm getting a bit tired of hearing Dane being compared to Anthony Gonazalez, Wes Welker, and Jordan Shipley.  It's like every time he makes a good play he must be compared to a different white receiver lol.  Same with Shipley yesterday in the Bengals game he makes a couple of catches and they start talking about Wes Welker.  I'm thinking can't we just say he's a good player?  Every time Ochocinco makes a catch no one compares him to Randy Moss.  Why must the make that comparison every week?

Sorry I'm off my soapbox, I just hate when guys are compared to other people for no apparent reason.  At first I'm convinced TP was compared to VY because he was tall and black, and a QB.  After Dane makes a catch, you here, he kind of reminds me of Shipley or Welker, but there's no other point made after that.  It gets under my skin.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Haha. Funny point about Dane getting compared to white receivers all the time. Personally speaking, Dane remind me of my realtor moreso than any particular receiver. They are dead ringers and they both suck at selling houses! I kid.

Denny's picture

Ken Gordon's got you covered, fellas.

He's got jokes for days.


buckeyedude's picture

I'll see if I can come up with a black receiver that Dane reminds me of, since you played the race card.



BacknBlack's picture

Here we go again w/ the O-line. How this type of talent can regress once leaving high school falls on the coaching staff, Mr. Bollman. Clearly not working as a unit when run blocking and #2 will not make it this year if that type of pass blocking continues. Sit Adams before someone in the backfield gets killed.

btalbert25's picture

Is it really time to hit the panick button on the O-Line?  Have they really been that bad this year?  Sure Adams was beaten badly on the play that TP got hit in the legs, but it's not like bad teams have dominated this line, which in the past that had happened.  To be sure, the RB's have not looked great, but there were times I felt Saine/Herron could've gotten more yardage but went down immediately upon being hit.  I'm not saying they are playing stellar football, but have the been that bad?   Occasionally a guy is going to miss and the QB will get hit, it happens.  I just don't see where Adams was constantly getting beat and Pryor paid for it.  I know he took a couple of hits, but other than the one to the legs, it's kind of nice to see him stand up in the pocket and deliver a ball before getting hit.  Not that he needs to get hit, but I for one think it's a good thing that instead of just taking off or trying to run, or holding the ball too long, Pryor has learned to step up and make a pass with some pressure.

BacknBlack's picture

Better review Adams performance the week prior vs. Ohio. 2 matador blocks in that game. I agree it's early to panic however my greatest concern is seeing these let downs against MAC competition.

builderofcoalitions's picture

I'm not worried about the defense. It's good that they had an off day the same game the offense drops 73. They completely handled Miami's offense, so there are not the holes we think there are. The seniors on that side of the ball will have things fixed my Illinois. Besides, take out those three drives and they were pretty stout.

I'm also not worried about the line. Everyone's loading the box and dropping coverage off to protect against the big throw. The problem for these teams is that TP is picking them apart for once. Eventually, some defense will have to respect TP's growth in the passing game. Then the running game will pick up. Also, I'd look for Berry and Hall to get more involved as the season moves on. They have been the most consistent running backs so far, IMHO.

Because we couldn't go for three.

buckeye33's picture

Take out those three drives & we wouldn't be concerned about the Defense.  Take out the 4 picks by Harris & the numerous dropped passes by Miami receivers, & we'd really be concerned. We have a problem defending against the pass !!!! Front four has very few sacks !!!!  Wisconsin, Iowa & Michigan can all pass & run.

btalbert25's picture

So, doesn't the secondary getting 4 picks in a game, mean they did their job?

btalbert25's picture

Could it be more than just being able to run that is keeping Berry and Hall out of the backfield?  I'm thinking it has to be that they just aren't getting things like blocking down in practice.  Don't get me wrong, I love Saine, I think it would be awesome to have him and Hall/Berry in the backfield at the same time, that way you have 2 good runners and one guy who is basically an extra WR on the field at the same time. 

BuckeyeChief's picture

Jay Crawford to Dana Jacobson:

"It's come to this, that you are now talking smack about scUM beating Bowling Green";


"Michigan where competing in the MAC they'd be one of the top dogs;  I think they'd have a chance though Toledo had their number last year".

"2014 National with it!!!"

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

based on the picture..the new heisman is said to be modeled after Pryor's feats...

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Dude. So tired of hearing about playing Berry. Over Boom and Zoom. What has Berry done yet? Again. I beg the question..I can see playing Hall more. But not Berry. Not yet atleast.

P.S. also tired of hearing about the predator/shoelace. Dude put up a ton of yards against teams that obviously couldn't define the term defense with the 'Coaching Football for Dummies' book in hand.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

btalbert25's picture

I feel the same way about Sabino.  The call for him has died down a bit as of late though with the Redshirt and all.