The Growth of Terrelle Pryor

By Keith on September 22, 2010 at 4:00p

At one point during the action last week, Terrelle Pryor completed 16 consecutive passes against the mascot attacking Bobcats. This broke the Ohio State record which, to me, wasn’t as impressive as how he did it. The passes were a collection of primary, checkdowns and hot read receivers based on defensive formation. Glorious is one way to describe it. Growth is another and it got me thinking this Pryor guy is starting to find his groove.

Actually, to most of us, his maturation isn’t all that surprising. We see a player who improves with almost every outing despite defenses geared to stop him in one way or another. Doubters exist right around the corner though. After the Miami victory MGoBlog summed up the Pryor this way:

"OSU outgained the 'Canes by about 60 yards, but Terrelle Pryor's 12 of 27 performance has to be worrying."

Sure, if one looks at completion percentage and absolutely nothing else like 233 passing yards, another 113 rushing, no turnovers and a win against a Top 15 team - then, yes, I guess I’m worried. But, we don’t so I’m not.

And let’s not forget just a few weeks ago, also in the land of replica Delaware helmets, Pryor was voted by his rivals as the most overrated player in the Big Ten. This bit of unintended comedy has been vigilantly tracked weekly by our good friend @Ramzy under the sarcasticly titled The Terrelle Pryor March to the Big Ten's Most Overrated Player® Watch. The season numbers as of this week: 156.62 passer rating, 6 TDs, 2 INTs, 880 yards, 3-0. Not shabby.

Moving away from the good natured ribbing, it’s worthwhile to take a look at how Pryor has morphed into a guy we like throwing the ball. It has been only three games bit it’s never bad to take a little barometric pressure. One of the things I’ve noticed is his mechanics are much improved. I’ll never be confused with a quarterback coach but I see a player who gets in his drop a little better. His footwork as he goes through his reads is a little more natural and his throwing motion has changed. While he still pushes the ball too much, Pryor is now much more over the top than he used to be. One can actually see him over-emphasize this motion during his warm-ups as a way to ingrain it in his technique.

The improvement is also visible when he scans defenses. No longer are we seeing the confused look of a new quarterback who has little idea of what the defense is showing and even less how to adapt. This is now a player who lives in the film room, checks down to secondary and tertiary receivers as we’ve seen all games and even changes protection at the line of scrimmage - sometimes to the chagrin of center Michael Brewster. All of these improvements haven’t been seen as consistently as they are now which makes for a much more confident player before and during the play.

Yearly Comparison
  Pass % Yds TD INt
FR 31-48 65% 353 5 2
SO 42-74 57% 613 4 4
JR 51-81 63% 715 6 2

This statistics support the changes, too. In looking at his first three games as a starter during each of his seasons, we see improvement nearly across the board. Completion percentage is up year over year as is yardage and TD/INT ratio. His 715 passing yards is second in the Big Ten. Even outliers like the high completion percentage his freshman year can be attributed to competition and limited scope. He simply wasn’t asked to do then what he he’s asked to do now. 

That’s not to say all areas of growth are the same. One area that seems to ‘diffferent’ is his running ability. This may bring some hissing and gasps but he doesn’t look as effortless in his running as he once did, despite Pryor saying he feels as fast as ever. Truth be told, that’s some razor thin nitpicking but it seems to be true because yards per carry average is down and he doesn’t seem close to breaking free on a long touchdown run.

Terrelle is so much bigger than he was just two years ago and I think this gets lost on fans sometimes. Announcers mention it quite a bit but until you look at photos, you don’t realize how much bigger this freakazoid is than he used to be. One can easily see this in his legs where he’s quickly closing in on Tebow range. Good for durability, strength and shaking off would be sackers, not as much for speed and quickness.

As with anything, improvement is an ongoing, never ending process. From a throwing standpoint, we know not all of his passes are money. I think we can all agree he should probably throw the ball away more as well as not force throws into coverage in hopes of making the spectacular play. But, overall, I’m liking our guy under center and wouldn’t trade him for anyone else, ‘overrated’ or not.  


Comments Show All Comments

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

Some things that stand out to me about Pryor this year, unlike his other 2 years is he seems to be making his check downs better and quicker. He also is finding Stoneburner better and dumping some passes right to the middle once the pocket breaks down. It might not be an exiciting gain, but it sure keeps the chains moving. Its gonna be crazy to see how far he has developed as a QB if he stay's another year.

btalbert25's picture

To me, the thing about Pryor is that he still has so much potential that he hasn't tapped yet.  Honestly, I've liked the guy from the moment he started even though he had so much to learn/improve on.  The minute I knew that USC game was out of hound was the minute I thought TP should be starting and getting game experience.  I really believe the Purdue debacle was the turning point for this kid and he has steadily progressed since then. 

Unless he puts it all together in the next few weeks, we will definitely be seeing TP under center next year.  He has improved immensely and has looked great, but I still think he has a ways to go before he puts it all together.  Once that happens, look out.  I can't wait to see it, and I think it could result in a crystal trophy or 2 being hoisted.

btalbert25's picture

Another thing you have to love about him is he knows how to win ball games.  Even with a dummied down offense he still won the games.  So as the playbook opens, Pryor reaches his potential, and margin of error grows the Ohio State offense becomes that much more explosive.  It's good right now, but it could very soon be prolific.

btalbert25's picture

Who cares if people say he is over rated.  Usually it's the fans of the 2 schools he decided not to go to that scream over rated when talking about Pryor.  I've also said that I believed Tebow was pretty over rated the last 2 years.  I'm not saying he wasn't great, I just see no way that the last 2 seasons he should've been a Heisman finalist.  At any rate, there was no one else that should've been under center for Florida. 

I don't want to make that a debate about Pryor's skill or level of play vs. Tebow because that's irrelevant, I'm just saying Pryor wins, he is playing well and whether he deserves Heisman publicity or not, he's the guy who should be leading the Buckeyes.

741's picture

You know, now that Tebow is no longer a Gator, I'm finding myself rooting for him.

Buckeye Black's picture

I don't think any one player has been scrutinized the way he has.  People expected him to come in and be VY 2.0.  Vince Young wasn't Vince Young until he exploded in the Rose Bowl.  Pryor is playing on a Heisman level even if the stats don't add up to some of the other "system" QB's.  What player would ever get criticized or 233 yd. passing 113 yd. rushing day in mediocre weather?  If those were Timmy boy's stats they never would have even looked at the completion percentage.  I hope every team we face loads the box and dares Pryor to throw because the coaching staff has faith in him and more importantly he knows that his play dictates how well this team will do.

anchorman's picture

He has improved so much! He has some to go, but he will be fine!

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

To me the most important improvement has been with his mouth in the media and I hope that continues.

He still looks like he is uneasy at times and he tries to force throws but leaps and bounds over last year.

JakeBuckeye's picture

Heisman-wise, let me just say that Troy only had 204 yards rushing with one touchdown in 2006.

TP has already eclipsed the touchdown number through three games, and he will likely pass up 2006 Smith for rushing yards by the time game #5 is over with (or sooner).

So at this point in their (Smith and Pryor) respective Heisman campaigns, Smith has had 54 more passing yards, 1 more passing touchdown, 179 less rushing yards, and 2 less rushing touchdowns than TP.

Jason Priestas's picture

It's no fun to read, but he's right. The SEC has won four-straight and right now at least, is the best college football conference in America. I do feel like Maisel is about a year and a half late to the OMG-UNBEATABLE-SEC party, but he's a native Alabaman, so I guess I'll cut him some slack for regional homerism.

slippy's picture

He's is COMPLETELY wrong about 10 OR MORE teams being top 25 worthy.  I almost threw up when I read that.  Ole Miss is terrible.  Vandy is terrible.  Mississippi St is not good.  Tennessee is not good.  Unbelievable.

Nick Buckeye's picture

The 10 team comment was a quote from Tennessee LB coach Lance Thompson, not Ivan Maisel's opinion.  

Buckeye Ben in Tampa's picture

but who can we trust in this world if not the Tennessee LB coach?

slippy's picture

Maisel did nothing to refute it however.  Of course a coach will say that.

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

That's a load of horse shit. Size and speed my ass. ESECPN

painterlad's picture

First of all, I don't bother with any longer. If I want nothing but the latest update on what the inbreds are up to, I'll watch a NASCAR race.

Now, strictly speaking, I think that Pryor has  underachieved at this point, simply because everyone thought that by his second year he was going to be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound. The expectations on him were the highest I can remember for an OSU quarterback since the old days of Art, with the possible exception of Zwick, so anything less than utter excellence will be considered underachieving.

That being said, I think Pryor is becoming a terrific quarterback. His throws are much more crisp and his reads are a lot quicker. He represents a terrible package for opposing defenses to try to contain, and I for one would hate to be a 190 lb. cornerback trying to bring this guy down as he is running thirty yards past the line of scrimmage.

To err is human. Really sucking requires having yellow stripes on your helmet.

Brady's picture

Pryor has definitely worked on his throwing motion in the offseason and looks more comfortable back there with checkdowns and so forth.  However, it almost looks like the coaching staff may have urged him to "stay in the pocket" so much that it has taken away his running game a little.  He also tends to revert to his old throwing motion when under pressure from time to time.  This is all nitpicking and we are lucky to have such a talent under center.  He is still a work in progress though.


Buckeye_Mafia's picture

I just enjoy watching his command in the huddle and pocket presence on the field. His footwork is exponentially improved since last season. Those two picks may be the last few he throws all season. His disgust was totally visible after the game. I also liked his matuerity during his interview. Shows that he is growing up and doesn't believe the hype, but embraces the challenge to become elite.

"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

Squirrel Master's picture

I like how he actually throws the ball of over the middle 10-20 yards. That was a throw he could not make last year. It was scary to see him throw to a cross. He was good on deep slants but a 10 yard cross was always behind the receiver. He has hit Posey and Stoneburner on a couple and it looks good. I think that is important since it keeps the ILBs honest.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

plooder's picture

After last night's Miami - Pitt game Pryor's dissection of the Miami Defense looks all the more impressive.  Miami prolly has one of the top 2 defenses that he will see this year.

Jason Priestas's picture

Completely agree. I still think Miami will be a top six or seven team when it's all said and done.

iball's picture

Pryor has a stronger arm than Carson Palmer. But then again, so does my 6 year old daughter.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers