Farming for the Soul

By Luke Zimmermann on October 31, 2009 at 11:49 pm
PTSD a la Jeff FlemmingAll day. (AP Photo/Jay LaPorta)
For those who turned the TV off in frustration after a lackluster first quarter, another week, another disappointment might've been what have been what you took away from what you witnessed. Those who stayed with it dutifully were rewarded with an explosion of points in the second quarter, and as the waining moments came and went, a defensive clinic so thorough they too may have eventually been hunting for the remote. After 60 minutes that at times felt more like a glorified jersey scrimmage than a late season college football game, the Bucks covered one of the biggest spreads in ages taking New Mexico State to school 45-0.

Haters will be haters: Terrelle Pryor took 3 steps back in the first quarter, but certainly seemed to begin to right the expectations ship before going down with a hamstring injury. If you expected 78-0, kindly get real and/or return to the bomb shelter you've been for the better part of the last decade. The defense is every bit as a filthy as we knew it was, and yes, the offense still needs to work on their basic sentence writing before they can start trying to write in cursive.

A team that's been notorious for their slow starts all season, Ohio State came out every bit as enthused to be taking New Mexico State to the dance as we were to watch them do it. Palpable boos would've undoubtedly resonated throughout the Shoe had the ticket holders, a reported 104,000 strong, actually managed to be there in attendance. After opening the game with a jaw dropping 43 yard bomb from TP2 to DeVier Posey, the Ohio State offense promptly went back into their cocoon, stalling and punting just 3 plays later. The next possession would offer little solace, with just 2 quick first downs, followed by some over-locking in on Duron Carter by the Bucks' QB-in-progress. The Bucks' third and final offensive series of a style point devoid first quarter would set the stage for Ohio State's first points. Jordan Hall carried the ball 6 times totaling 27 yards, getting himself and a previously struggling offensive line into a groove, all the while opening up passing possibilities for the young man under center.

Pryor would start the 2nd quarter teleporting effortlessly into the end zone for the first of 4 2nd quarter scores. TP finally began to find his passing groove in the second, connecting with long time favorite target Dane Sanzenbacher on a 19 yard TD, and a choice 12 yard strike to DeVier Posey setting up a B-Saine rushing TD. The play of the quarter game came on the Bucks' third offensive possession when on end around wide receiver DeVier Posey threw a perfect (left handed!) 39 yard touchdown on an end around, also finding Sanzenbacher to stretch the lead to 21. Posey looked like a savvy southpaw on the toss, putting dreams of a 'Wild Posey' package in the heads of many around these parts. Whether or not #8 would have the speed to make such a formation effective remains to be seen, but any wrinkles on the part of Tress and co. are always welcome.

The story of the afternoon for the Aggies would be the resolve they showed in the early going. Their defense held the Buckeyes scoreless (though did yield very near 100 yards) but couldn't claim the same kind of success again until Ohio State's walk-ons were operating the offense for the Bucks. The Aggies offense was near non-existent for the entire afternoon. NMSU accumulated just 40 yards on 30 carries on the ground, and weren't any better off through the air, netting just 22 yards on 6-15 passing (including an INT on a pinball wizard snag by Ross Homan). Quarterback Jeff Fleming was the closest thing resembling competency for the Ags racking up 44 yards running for his life on 7 carries (which given his 6/13 22 0/1 laugher of a line throwing the ball tells you how paltry this offense really was).

It's not worth any of our time to spend much time on Pryor. If you were an outspoken critic of the still very much 20 year old, you're still likely to be. If you're willing to give the kid time to get from point A to point B, right on. If you're on the fence atoll, I kindly give you the alternative: Joe Bauserman was 2/9 for 75 yards (35 on one completion and 40 on another impressive effort by freshman Duron Carter). The impatient NCAA10-mentality types who saw a 23-year old 2-star recruit as a "better passing option" essentially had Tressel and Bollman's justification for sticking with Pryor rebutted back in their faces. It's easy to forget that Bauserman's being brought along by the very same individuals who've been second (and third) guessed for their development of Pryor.

The question now becomes how healthy is Terrelle Pryor? The Big Ten Network parroted the Tressel Corp. spin machine that the coaching staff simply wanted to see what Boeckman Bauserman (Ed. note: preserved for posterity's sake, due both the comedic nature of the Freudian slip, but also how ridiculous calling for unproven, unqualified backups can be regardless of the year) brought to the table (spoiler alert: not much), as opposed to the reality that Pryor had tweaked his hammy. Pryor himself in the post game acknowledged that he'd gotten banged up on one of the final plays of the last offensive drive. If Pryor's good to go, given his relative struggles to this point, you have to think he sees at least another quarter of action, no? Given Tressel's history, it's virtually impossible to tell whether The Vest was simply being prudent, or if the "minor bang up" was truly medically serious enough to mandate his being sidelined. The Penn State margin of error will non-existent; Pryor absolutely has to be his sharpest and healthiest for the Bucks to escape State College one win closer to Pasadena, and with the sudden clarity at the lack of a legitimate Plan B, our fingers are most assuredly crossed.