Pryor, Buckeyes Make an Early Statement

By Jason Priestas on September 3, 2010 at 5:50a
37 Comments

The Buckeyes entered last night's home opener against Marshall ranked second in the nation, but it's fair to say fans, both Buckeye and non-Buckeye, still had some questions about Terrelle Pryor at quarterback and the team as a whole. They'd been burned twice before by showering the quarterback with an unfair amount of hype heading into his freshman and sophomore seasons, and the team had just recently exorcised the three year bowl stench from the locker room and had a legacy of getting off to slow starts under Jim Tressel.

After throttling the Thundering Herd 45-7, it's a good bet some of those doubts were extinguished.

Fresh off his Rose Bowl MVP-winning performance, Pryor took the next step in his evolution as a passing quarterback displaying pocket awareness, solid footwork, good reads and excellent ball distribution on his to going 17/25 for 247 yards and three touchdowns.

After Dorian Bell blasted Marshall's Andre Booker, forcing a fumble on the game's opening kickoff, Pryor and the offense took over at the Herd's 22. On first down, he hit tight end Jake Stoneburner for 11, and three plays later, he hit Posey on a back shoulder fade to the left side from six yards out to put the Buckeyes on the board early. The play was reminiscent of the one the two connected on in the fourth quarter of the Rose Bowl to put the game away.

After the defense held Marshall to a three-and-out, the offense took over again, this time at midfield. On first down Pryor went to Posey again, picking up five. Then, on second down, running back Brandon Saine ran to the left side before bouncing outside and jetting 40 yards down the sideline before being forced down inside the Thundering Herd's five yard line. Two plays later, he took a handoff right, and following fullback Zach Boren plugging two defenders, took it in untouched from four yards out.  A little over four minutes into the game, Ohio State was up 14-0 and the rout was on. Or so we thought.

The teams would trade possessions before the Buckeyes advanced to the Marshall 36, setting up a 4th-and-3 with 2:31 on the clock. Tressel elected to give freshman Drew Basil a shot from 52 out, but the kick was blocked and returned 39 yards for a touchdown by Marshall's Ahmed Shakoor, sending an excruciating pain up and down Tressel's spine.

Ohio State University quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) looks for a receiver against Marshall University during the second quarter of their NCAA football game in Columbus, Ohio, September 2, 2010.  REUTERS/Matt Sullivan  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

The Buckeyes answered on their very next possession when Pryor hit Dane Sanzenbacher on a 65-yard post, highlighted by Dane's fancy footwork to avoid the defender and finish the play, putting OSU up 21-7. That score would hold until four minutes remained in the 2nd quarter and Saine burst through a massive hole cleared out by a pulling Justin Boren, going 45 yards and showcasing his jets on the way to the endzone.

On Marshall's next possession, Brian Rolle stepped in front of a Brian Anderson throw, weaving his way through defenders on the en route to a 30-yard pick six to put OSU up 35-7. Ohio State would score twice more; once on another back shoulder fade to Posey for an 11-yard touchdown to finish a nice drive to start the 3rd quarter and finally on a 34-yard field goal by Devin Barclay midway through the 4th quarter to wrap-up the scoring.

As the score indicates, a lot of things went well for the Buckeyes last night.  They dominated an overmatched team like they should have, getting a rare blowout in an opener under Tressel. The defense pitched a shutout, while the offense got off to a good start, building on their performance in Pasadena eight months ago.  The two and three deep saw valuable minutes, with the second team offensive line and wideouts entering the game on Ohio State's 4th series. By and large, key injuries were avoided, though backups Dorian Bell, Carlos Hyde and Corey Linsley all got, as Tressel put it, "dinged up."  Heck, even Tyler Moeller made a triumphant return, wreaking havoc in Marshall's backfield and proving once again, that even with a year off, he's still the team's best weapon on blitzes.

Perhaps even more importantly, the Buckeyes have momentum heading into the annual marquee out-of-conference game on their schedule. Two years ago, they needed a late punt return from Ray Small to eke out a 26-14 win over Ohio the week before traveling to Los Angeles to take on USC. Last year, it was a late Rolle interception return on a Navy two-point conversion that iced that game 31-27 ahead of USC's return visit to the Horseshoe. With Miami (impressive in their own right Thursday night) coming to town next weekend, the team needed this start and got it.

So all is well, right? Not exactly. The Thundering Herd had a 62-yard kickoff return, sending flashbacks of the lack of coverage exhibited in the Rose Bowl. Earlier in the game, on Ohio State's first extra point attempt, Marshall tipped the kick, foreshadowing the blocked field goal they'd score on later.  This is both good and bad. It's bad for the obvious reasons -- Hurricane special teams coach Joe Pannunzio is going to take a special kind of delight in reviewing the tapes of this game (though he should probably worry about getting his own house in order, too) and will surely attack the middle of the unit in hopes of getting a little bit of what Marshall got on the night. The silver lining, however, is the staff, especially a staff run by James Patrick Tressel, will have something to keep the egos in check. I'd be surprised if he slept much at all last night given his love of special teams and his own teams not-so special application of them last night.

Setting aside the kick team blunders, the performance is all I could have really hoped for. I have a lot of confidence in this team heading into the Miami game and feel like the team we saw play last night could play with anyone in the nation.

Bullets

  • Brandon Saine is the clear #1 at running back and for good reason. He was the perfect blend of ruggedness and speed last night, finishing with 103 yards (his third career 100-yard game) and two touchdowns on just 9 carries. Boom Herron also ran well, finishing with 44 yards on 6 carries (6.3/per), but it was redshirt freshman Jaamal Berry that electrified the crowd to the tune of 80 yards on 7 carries. Like a lot of other positions, Ohio State appears to be very deep and very talented at the running back spot (I'm not even mentioning Jordan Hall, who'd likely start for 80% of the Big Ten).
  • Pryor has two excellent receivers and an emerging tight end, but he still might not have a go-to third receiver. Posey had four catches, including two touchdowns on what's looking like a play that will be hard for teams to stop. Sanzenbacher finished with 113 yards, and Stoneburner set a new career high for receptions in a season when he hauled in three for 41. Grant Schwartz had three catches, Chris Fields and Corey Brown each recorded their first reception as a Buckeye, and Taurian Washington had one bounce off of his facemask. This spot is still wide open.
  • As for the quarterback, I can't say enough good things about his performance (save for what Johnny called his Sexy Rexy moment on the fourth series when he kind of just aired one out after getting pressured). Most of his throws were on the money, he showed good touch on his long balls (just missing Posey on a bomb that would have paired nicely with the one caught by Sanzenbacher), and I liked the way he kept his eyes downfield instead of reverting to his feet. He used them when he needed to, but was clearly looking to pass first.  Designed runs were a different story. Marshall did a pretty good job of spying those and limiting their effectiveness.
  • The offensive line played well for the most part. Shugarts took his obligatory false start, the first of the season called against the team and Mike Adams surrendered a sack (though one could reasonably argue Pryor held the ball for too long on that play), but the unit gave Pryor plenty of time to throw opened huge holes most of the night for the running game.
  • The defensive line was physical and helped to hold Marshall to just 44 yards on 21 carries. It would have been nice to have notched a sack, and Cam Heyward had one slip out of his hands, but those will come easier with Nathan Williams back on the field.
  • The secondary had a couple of shaky moments, but overall, played up to par. Travis Howard earned some heavy nickel time and C.J. Barnett had a good first outing.
  • Joe Bauserman appears to have the edge as Pryor's backup for now, entering the game for Pryor in the fourth quarter, with Kenny Guiton taking over late.
  • Regarding the blocked kick, Tressel said Basil got it off in 1.2 seconds, implying it was a protection issue. On the other side, I really liked what I saw out of Hall on punt returns and Berry on kick returns. It's fun to think that might be another weapon in our arsenal someday soon.
  • Highlights? Highlights.
37 Comments

Comments

buckeyedude's picture

Holy Toledo, the traffic was the worst getting in to and out of the game, as any I've ever been to! Was in section 38B in between the big score board and the student section. Great time.

I was wondering if that was Corey Linsley that went down. I noticed they drove him off the field on a golf cart. Hope he's OK. Early on it didn't look like the OSU O-line was opening too many holes at first but then settled down a bit, and got to work.

Good job Buckeyes! Let's play hard for 4 quarters, next week!

 

 

Normal Buck's picture

Concerned about the kickoff coverage team -- they've had some issues going back even longer than the Rose Bowl.

I was pessimistic about the strides TP had made, but now -- WOW!  Besides several nice throws, I thought he looked really good in "feeling" when pressure was coming. 

Couldn't stand Chris Martin on the BTN broadcast. 

Poe McKnoe's picture

Chris Martin is a doucher.  I learned that he thinks Pryor and Posey have a 'love relationship' going on, whatever that means.

PALM BEACH BUCKEYE's picture

Gotta get the kick coverage in order... the Canes play faster than Marshall and that might have gone to the house.  I am not worried about the blocked FG...   Tress has 8 days to work the kinks out on that-- they will be practicing FG's until the wee hours of the morning if that is what it takes.  The Canes are not a physical team, so the way to beat them is knock them around early and often.....    31-17 Bucks!!

slippy's picture

The only thing that worries me about that blocked kick is that it was Boren that got blown up at the line for the guy who blocked it to get his penetration.

Buckeye in Athens's picture

Oh really? I thought it was the long snapper, Jake McQuaide. If it was Boren then that's disturbing. 

slippy's picture

Yea it was Boren.  Generally these AREN'T on the longsnapper because no one is allowed to touch him until he picks his head up.  I guess that can leave double teams against his guards, which may have been what happened.  So I guess it could have been both of them but Boren got turned sideways which isn't good for protection.

nowakkr's picture

I'm about 100% sure it was Jake McQuaide who let the guy through on the block kicked.  He was being talked to on the sideline after the kick.  I don't think it was Boren

slippy's picture

Yea thinking about it more it was partially on him.  I think it's split between them though.  The guy really drove Boren back and sideways...but MacQuaide was probably supposed to help Boren block him.

Natty Light's picture

 the 2 DTs hit boren on each shoulder and pushed him back.  McQuade should have helped push back on them a seecond later, but I think Boren needs to get a better push from the snap to get some momentum. 

Keith's picture

I'd assign blame at about 80% McQuaide, 20% Boren.

But, more specifically it was a good coaching job by Marshall.  They overloaded that gap and sent 4 guys through.  It's tough to handle that.  Boren did a pretty good job and then tried to help McQuaide.   McQuaide as the luxury of not having to worry about getting hit initially (remember Austin Spliter personal foul against LSU?) so he should have gotten his head up and engaged sooner IMO.

nowakkr's picture

Definitely..anytime multiple players get through it is obviously more than 1 players fault.  I actually was encouraged to see it because i don't think ohio state should be in the business of kicking 53 yard field goals with a freshman.  I would have liked to see Tressel go 4 wide with Stoneburner on the line.  Try to hit him in the flat or let TP take off. 

Joe Beale's picture

Agree completely; that was 4-down territory.

slippy's picture

Is anyone else really worried by the lack of d-line pressure?  I know they had a lot of quick passes (and the line did great against the run like you mentioned) but whenever we just rushed 4 it seemed like a stalemate.  This supposed awesome line (believe me I have plenty of faith in them) were kinda invisible in the passing game.  I really hope Williams is ready to go next week.

 

Otherwise, I thought the offensive variety was non-existant.  Saw the same pass place many many times.  Which is good for not giving stuff away I suppose...and the fact that they kept working.  Loved the 1st down throws though.

 

I'm coming away with tempered excitement.  Not as excited as the blowout would suggest, but definitely saw the potential.

tampa buckeye's picture

D line will be fine.  They gave up nothing on the ground.  Nate Williams will help pass rush for sure.  Marshall had some big boys up there.  Not like that was Fla A&M's line.  We are going to blitz miami much more often then you saw last night.  

We missed Tyler Moeller last year.  He just makes plays.  Hines, Moeller and Chimidi all showed up.  Travis Howard not so much.  

O-line is looking beast.  It won't be as easy vs miami but damn they kept Pryor clean all night.  Also the dave play worked almost everytime they ran it.  They looked very good.

Pryor is going to have some monster numbers.  He has three very good recievers (stoney, posey, sanz) 

Special teams need to pick it up.  We have to kick the ball into the endzone on kickoffs because they dont cover for shit.  Berry will take one to the house if we block somebody next week.  

Scary thing is that wasn't their A game. Go bucks

BigRedBuckeye's picture

Disappointed Cam didn't come up with that sack. I somewhat expected a more dominant performance on passing downs from our D line, but my disappointment may just be a product of a sack-less night and all the preseason hype.

Saine looked VERY good. And electric is the right word for Berry. Boom looked less good. The O line seemed to open a shockingly gaping hole every few plays. I was pleasantly surprised.

Pryor still looked a little dance-y in the pocket at times, but man, when he did release his throws, they looked much better. His strength, accuracy, motion/mechanics, all looked better. He looked more like a QB should look back there. He did stare down Posey a little on the first TD I thought.

Speaking of Posey, he played well but had one bad dropsie. T Wash...oh man, gotta have that one son. Glad to see Sanzenbacher's identical twin cousin Grant "May the Schwartz be with you" get some catches. 

Gotta shore up that kicking game. Scary. Do not like.

Hats off to Minny for pulling out a win in a battle with a better-than-their-name-lets-on Middle Tennessee. 

The Utah-Pitt game was great, gotta hand it to the Ute crowd, they were a big factor. How far does Pitt fall for an opening game loss on the road in a rowdy atmosphere 2 time zones from home by an OT fg?

And we'll drink to old Ohio, 'Til we wobble in our shoes! 

slippy's picture

The problem with that MTSU team though is that they were playing without their all-conference dual-threat legitimate playmaker QB.  With him in that could be a loss for Min.

blazers34's picture

I hate the time out before a kick crap.  every coach who does it should get kicked in the balls.  even if its our esteemed senator.

BigRedBuckeye's picture

It has been so en vogue to criticize it over the past 1-3 yrs, but I am not sure what changed. Go back and watch the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, as Miami kicked the FG at the end of regulation. Tress ices him like its his job, and the announcers don't even make a comment. It was normal and not looked down upon. I found that interesting.

And we'll drink to old Ohio, 'Til we wobble in our shoes! 

btalbert25's picture

I was glad to see Pitt lose.  I kept hearing "experts" say that they had a shot to run the table and make the title game.  Glad to see we won't have a Big East team in the conversation.

buckeyedude's picture

I'm sure Mark May was making lame excuses for his Panthers. I've read a few comments from the 'experts' that think UConn has a legit shot at winning the Big LEast.

 

 

btalbert25's picture

I'd sure like to see UConn win at least one non conferene game!  I think Cincinnati is going to be tough again(in conference)  I don't see them beating Oklahoma, but stranger things have happened I guess.  They may actually have better receiving corps than last year and Collaros looked sharp when he got a chance. Just glad Pitt didn't win, I just never have liked that team.

I wonder if Cap'n dipshit from BTN still thinks Ohio State doesn't have a legit running game.

Joe Beale's picture

I'm rooting for UConn on Saturday. ;-)

buckeyedude's picture

hey Joe, the boss(J. Delany) said BigTen fans have to root for other BigTen teams when playing OOC games, aka SEC.

 

 

btalbert25's picture

I got to see most of the game and will say I am very excited about Pryor and where this team can go from here.  I'm not naming him Heisman or anything like that, but it's clear he is much improved and that is great.  I'm not too concerned about about the D-Line.  I have a feeling they are going to be just fine.  The thing that does worry me most is Kick return coverage.  I don't like the idea of giving up great field position to Miami, Iowa, Wisconsin etc.

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

I seriously believe everyone stepped up last night. Saine looked dirty, Pryor was arm-punting away (couple excited throws though), and Sanzi, well...was just his pretty boy self through and through...

 

Make a suggestion for the song? gets me riled up HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS - Ohio is for lovers....

 

Great day to be a bucks fan...i'm excited to make this trip up to Columbus from Virginia this weekend

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

OSUStu's picture

My favorite part of the entire game was seeing Moeller flying around.  The guy was everywhere and absolutely destroyed Anderson from the blind side. 

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

and can i make a suggestion? just watching the game last night, i feel like we should have a picture per week of that weeks best STIFF ARM...just say..like Stiff Arm of the Week segment.

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

BucksfanXC's picture

Seconded.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

jfunk's picture

Isn't Pryor the wielder of "The Stiff-Arm of Righteousness"? I know Beanie had "The Stiff-Arm of Justice".

Scotch: It may be too early to drink it, yes; but people it is never to early to think about it.

Denny's picture

So 'cited, you guys. One week and we'll eat too with Brutus or something like that. Bring your chalises - chali? Your goblets.

Taquitos.

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

and whatever this guy is smoking :)

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

Keith's picture

From snap to kick, the Buckeyes shoot for 1.3 or under.  So, you are correct in thinking Tressel was pointing out it was a protection issue not a slowness one.

BigRedBuckeye's picture

What about kick height/trajectory? Young kicker maybe trying to line drive it? Couldn't tell from the replays I saw.

And we'll drink to old Ohio, 'Til we wobble in our shoes! 

slippy's picture

It was a 53 yard attempt so it has to be driven.  Can't really blame the kicker for a low kick on an attempt that long.  I didn't see the replay of the tipped XP but that might have been too low?

dmurder's picture

Highlights:  Moller +1

Stonebrunner, they throw it to him the very first play of the night. Sweater Vest forgets about him until late in the 2nd quarter?

TP flashed signs of brilance, and a few other times scared the hell out of me (thinking of the two balls that should have never been thrown). His other passes where he threw behind or in the grass, looked as though he was throwing it to hard. TP has weapons, and he looks as though he will have protection. (My only thought here is.... Does he have problems throwing the shorter routes).

Defense was outstanding once again! Only one concern secondary! We made Marshall one dimmensional, and forced them to a dink, and dunk offense. We played the bend don't break defense all night with a average amount of pressure. However Marshalls little dink, and dunk offense kept us from really laying the wood. Also nasty nate was out. (thoughts of moller smacking the QB, man that was a sick hit).

Concerns: Special Teams -1

I think im getting really tired of watching the opposing team return a kick to the 40 yard line, However thank you dorian bell for the kick coverage in the beggining of the game.

Replace T-Wash with C-Brown

Replace B-Herron with J-Berry, convienced that if saine would have had some of those carries that Boom had late in the 3rd Quarter, he doesnt get caught from behind.

Thoughts:

I wonder how much tressel wanted to actually show last night?

Where was sabino?

"We have always had the best damn band in the land, now we have the best damn team in the land"- Jim Tressel 1-03-03

slippy's picture

I don't know how much he wanted to show but barely showed anything.

 

Rumor mills are saying Sabino to redshirt.  I'm fine with that if we stay healthy.