Disclaimer: I tried to wait as late into Sunday as a I could to hopefully cool down a little but I didn't have much luck. As a result, you may detect a bit of sarcasm below. My apologies.
Look on the bright side, I don't think Pryor, or any quarterback alive for that matter, could possibly play any worse. Could it be TP has finally hit rock bottom with a four turnover performance complete with a bad attitude, non-existent leadership and the same old mistakes we've seen in the last year and half?
I mentioned it last week and feel compelled to bring it up again: Could it be that Pryor simply doesn't have the necessary mental skills to play QB at the major college level? All we hear is how hard he works in the film room blah blah blah but the end result thus far is a QB just as inconsistent in all phases of the game as last year.
The new wrinkle this week to the TP-Trainwreck was of course the ridiculous comments he made about the offense being ready to explode. Uh, I suppose he meant implode. Here's a sampling of his mind-numbing handiwork yesterday. It's like deja vu all over again. And I'm supposed to be happy he's here for another 2.5 years?
- This is minor in the grand scheme of things but again I watched TP have absolutely no awareness of the sideline as he ran out of bounds after gaining 5 yards on a 2nd and 10 scramble. He does this at least twice per game and it's not just to avoid hits. He simply has no vision / awareness continuously passing up necessary yards. No film of this for him to study, I guess?
- The first INT was also vintage Pryor as he launched a duck in the general direction of Duron Carter, and three Boiler defensive backs. Again, I'm to believe he's learning in the film room? If so, you'd think he correct this particular type of INT since it's on film about 5 times now.
- The second INT was also a familiar scene as TP blatantly stared down Ray Small on the short out route allowing the DB, who did make a nice play, to step in front of Small for the pick. Hmmm. Sensing a pattern here? Another repeat mistake that's yet to be corrected by the kid so devoted to film study.
- How 'bout the errant pitch to Saine on the option? Seen that before?
- The second fumble was another replay in which we see TP continue to hold the ball above his head when he's being tackled. A few times, he's actually attempted to throw the ball out of bounds. Last week, for example, he actually threw the ball backward an picked up a grounding call. This week, he refused to bring the ball to his chest and of course Purdue recovered. Again, how is he not learning? It's the same mistakes over and over and over again. Where's the accountability? I have to believe the video coordinator and Tressel are mentioning these things to him in between ego massages.
- The late throws also continue. One particular instance cost the Buckeyes six when TP failed to quickly deliver the ball to Ballard wide open in the back of the endzone in the 4th quarter. Because he failed to recognize Ballard early enough he was forced to throw over the LB who had rolled into coverage and the play was blown. OSU settled for a field goal to make it 23-10.
Offensive Line Back to Square One
Pryor made his own bed so I refuse to let this be a convenient excuse for him but the offensive line was an absolute steaming log yesterday. And I don't want to hear about how Purdue blitzed or else stacked the box every play. Were there times when the front was outnumbered? Yes, but there were more than enough instances in which guys got flat out blown up in one on one blocking situations.
Jim Cordle came back from injury but I can only hope he was still hurt based on his performance. He single-handedly killed OSU's third possession. On first down, he was beat badly causing Saine to be dropped for a 2 yard loss. On second down, he again whiffed on a block forcing Pryor to scramble for 3 yards. Then, on 3rd and 19, he was again beaten off the line forcing Pryor to dump the ball off to Ballard. Punt ensued.
Speaking of Ballard, he also had a tough day. TP's first fumble came as a result of Ballard getting blown up giving Pryor about one second to try and secure the ball. Midway through the 3rd quarter, Ballard's false start began a drive that resulted in, you guessed it, a Pryor INT.
Bottom line, even when not blitzed the line didn't stop penetration all day. How can you allow a sack against a four man rush with the game on the line? It was 3rd and 5, Pryor is forced to look deep down the field, and he doesn't even have time to let the WR's run their routes before he's under duress. Unbelievable. I don't even know who to be upset with anymore. Who's in charge of the o line? Bollman? Petersen? Tressel? Anyone? When you find out, ask whoever's in charge how a division one program has at least five o-line penalties including 3 false starts for what feels like the 4th time this year.
What's the Reading on your Tressel Love-Meter?
Up until yesterday, this was the type of game Tressel always somehow managed to escape with an ugly win. This was the one argument for Tress against guys like Pete and Urban, he didn't lose to teams he wasn't supposed to lose to. Uh..go ahead and flush that argument.
Not only did they lose to a team they should've beat, they were out coached and out disciplined. That falls on the head coach. This team wasn't ready to play, period. Nine penalties. Three false starts. A muffed punt. Two fumbles. Two interceptions.
Worse yet is the fact nobody seems to be held accountable for their performance. I think it sent a terrible message to the rest of the team when Tressel flat out refused to remove TP for even one series. I guarantee you many players are sick of the TP love fest (and his play in general) and would've been glad to see Bauserman get one series. They'll never voice it but I can pretty much guarantee there's a faction of players who wish Pryor had gone elsewhere. I've seen his act at practice and I've seen how some of the players react but then sing the company line in interviews. It's real. He evolution into a leader has mirrored his evolution as a QB and Tressel's coddling is partially to blame.
And what happened to the run game? Saine got seven carries total and just one in the second half. I know OSU was behind but it's not like Tressel totally abandoned running the ball as evidenced by TP's 21 totes. I'm confused. I might buy it if Tressel stated he didn't think OSU could run anything between the tackles due to the stacked box but if that's the case, how bout a screen to Saine? He ran it once and got 40 yards. Why not dial up that play again?
As for the staff itself, I think we're all getting the feeling this is Bollman's farewell tour and that Hazell is taking on an increased role in the offense but does it matter? That still leaves no one to develop a QB that probably isn't capable of becoming a legit drop back passer and the line will never be worth a damn if defenses know the easy formula is to stack the box and make the QB prove he can complete passes under pressure.
Purdue's Plan of Attack
I thought Danny Hope had a great game plan. The short-medium passing routes helped neutralize the only dominant unit on this team, the defensive line. The routes combined with Joey Elliot's ability to escape pressure the few times it came allowed the Buckeyes just one sack. That's pretty amazing when you consider he attempted 52 passes, 33 in the first half alone.
I'd imagine we'll see more of this in the coming weeks especially if Heacock is content to sit in a soft zone for much of the game. Overall, I felt the defense held their own but I wonder at what point they start to go downhill as a result of constantly being on the field due to offensive turnovers or general lack of sustained drives? Yesterday's time of possession battle was another lopsided affair with Purdue controlling the ball for 36 minutes. That's not as bad as the 42 minutes Wisconsin had the ball but still an issue.
As tough as the D has been, they seem to be struggling on 3rd down which is adding to their time on the field. Purdue was 7/18 on 3rd down yesterday and Wisconsin was 6/19 two weeks ago. So what do you think - is this group going to run out of gas before the end of the season? I think they realize if they don't show up, there's a good chance for a loss.
Rough Day for the Zebra's
I can't stress enough that I'm not insinuating the refs were responsible for the loss - that's on TP's shoulders - but I also think it's worth mentioning just how bad the refs continue to be. There were some crucial calls that cost Ohio State big time.
The first questionable call occurred on Coleman's apparent forced fumble late in the 1st quarter. The receiver was clearly fighting for yards and no whistle had blown the play dead but the refs end up saying forward progress had stopped. Okay, if that's the case, where's the whistle?
The worst call of the day, however, was the phantom holding call on Browning negating a Saine TD run. Unless the refs called the wrong number when announcing the penalty, this was absolute garbage. That was not even close to holding. Not only did that negate a TD, but Pryor promptly fumbled on the next play. That was a killer.
One last horrible call occurred when they ruled Dane's reception incomplete and didn't even attempt to review it. From my biased viewpoint, it appeared he tipped the ball to himself and fully controlled it while getting a foot down. I get missing it on the field because it was a bang bang play but it I think it should have been reviewed and overturned.