Monday, October 6, 2008
Some Good Articles on Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes Win at Wisconsin
Some Good Articles on Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes Win at Wisconsin
Time is on Pryor's side, and soon opponents will run and hideGet them now, people. I'm talking to you, Big Ten. And to you, college football powerhouses elsewhere. Get them now. Get the Ohio State Buckeyes now, this year, while Terrelle Pryor is still a kid.
Because when he becomes a man, it's over.
Maybe it's too late. Maybe he became a man Saturday night, when he led the No. 14 Buckeyes to a 20-17 victory at No. 18 Wisconsin. Maybe Pryor, a true freshman, emerged from his cocoon at Camp Randall Stadium, where he drove the Buckeyes 80 yards late in the fourth quarter, scoring the game-winning touchdown himself on an ice-cold 11-yard keeper with 68 seconds left.
Maybe it's already over.
Probably not. Terrelle Pryor is still a kid, prone to silly mistakes, as he showed against Wisconsin. He holds the ball too long, refuses to throw it away, retreats deeper and deeper into the pocket because he's so confident, so good, that he believes he can turn nothing into something. The stats will show he ran for just 20 yards against Wisconsin because he kept taking sacks he didn't need to take. He also threw an interception on an ill-advised jump ball 50 yards down the field. Good as he was Saturday night, Pryor wasn't anywhere near as good as he's going to be.
So get them now, people. I'm talking to you, Penn State. And to you, Michigan State. And to you, Illinois. (Not to you, Michigan. You have no chance. Not now. And not until Pryor is gone.)
Get the Buckeyes now, because this team is going to be awesome. Because this player, this one incredible player, is going to be unstoppable.
"He's coming of age," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said afterward.
We've seen Pryor's kind before, and his kind won a national championship. His kind didn't win the Heisman Trophy, but mistakes happen, and that was a mistake. Because in 2005, Texas quarterback Vince Young was the best player in college football.
In 2005, Young was the best college player since Herschel Walker. He made Southern California look silly in the Rose Bowl, and someday Terrelle Pryor will make someone that good look that silly as well. It won't happen this season, because Pryor is just 19 years old. When Young threw for 3,000 yards and ran for 1,000 yards in 2005, he was a junior. A fourth-year junior. He had redshirted his first year on campus, then shared playing time as a redshirt freshman, when he threw for 1,155 yards and ran for 998. He didn't become The Man until he was a sophomore.
Pryor has no such luxury. Neither does Tressel, who decided three games ago that Pryor has to play every meaningful down as a true freshman. It's too bad for Ohio State that Tressel came to that conclusion after the 35-3 loss Southern California, which was the last start made by Ohio State's Wally Pipp Todd Boeckman. Then again, without injured tailback Beanie Wells, Pryor wouldn't have been able to beat USC by himself. Not this year. Not as a true freshman.
Next year? Or the year after? Don't bet against him.
When Terrelle Pryor becomes a man -- and that might not happen until 2010, though my money's on 2009 -- the Buckeyes will become unbeatable. This is Ohio State, and that's Tressel, so you know the team will always have a stout defense. It will always have effective special teams. Jim Tressel will have a running back and an offensive line, too.
Give Tressel those pieces, and then give him a difference-maker of a quarterback like Pryor, and it's over. The Buckeyes will run roughshod over the Big Ten, and when they face a great team like USC or Florida or LSU or Oklahoma for the national championship, Pryor will win it for them. He's that good.
Or he will be.
What he was Saturday night was good enough to beat Wisconsin at home after dark, two factors that, in conjunction, have made the Badgers almost unbeatable. They had won their last 11 night games at Camp Randall Stadium, a massive bowl of Bloody Mary that literally wobbles when the crowd of 81,000 gets going.
It's completely enclosed, a mammoth scoreboard in the north end zone walling off the only place for sound to escape. Camp Randall is insanely loud, but Pryor acted as if he couldn't hear a thing. He signaled plays while standing in the shotgun formation, and after first downs while his teammates were pumping their fists and the crowd was groaning, Pryor was calmly trotting to the sideline to get the next play from Tressel.
On the field, Pryor is the spitting image of Vince Young. He glides when he hits the corner, eating up yardage in shocking amounts, or he calmly picks his way through defenders between the tackles. On the first play from scrimmage Saturday he found himself alone on the edge with Wisconsin linebacker DeAndre Levy, the reigning national defensive player of the week. Levy closed in for the tackle ... and whiffed.
When players do hit Pryor, he drags them -- and sometimes drags the entire pile, as he did once on the Buckeyes' final scoring drive. "Big body," said Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema. "Tough to bring down."
When Pryor throws it, he flicks the ball with a bizarre motion that won't get it done in the NFL, but for the college game is plenty good enough.
With Pryor, that vintage OSU defense and this All-American tailback -- Wells ran for 168 yards Saturday -- Ohio State might just be good enough to contend for the national title this year. That's doubtful, because lots of teams have to lose between now and December, and lose badly enough to fall behind the Buckeyes.
But as the season rolls along and Pryor and Wells put up their numbers, Top 25 voters will take note. Ohio State will be judged like a college basketball team that was once banged up but is completely whole for March Madness. The USC loss will always be a loss, but it will become a loss with an asterisk. Whether that would be enough for the 11-1 Buckeyes to get into the BCS title game is an unanswerable question in early October.
But this is a stone cold fact, and it is directed to anyone and everyone with plans of beating the Buckeyes:
Beat them now. Beat them now, before Terrelle Pryor decides it's too late.
Pryor comes of age in dramatic Wisconsin win
In the euphoria of Ohio State's dramatic 20-17 win over Wisconsin, Terrelle Pryor caught up with James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins in the tunnel outside the visitors' locker room.
Ohio State's freshman front man had a message for the senior stars.
"We're giving him a hug and he says, 'I'm fighting for you guys,'" Laurinaitis said. "He cares about these guys that are older and the history of Ohio State. He cares about his future and he wants to be a big part of that."
Pryor took a big step toward solidifying the team's future Saturday night at Camp Randall Stadium. The 81,608 on hand witnessed a coronation in the final 6:26, a true freshman quarterback doing things that true freshman quarterbacks aren't supposed to do.
With Ohio State trailing 17-13 against a team that doesn't lose at home (16 straight wins) or at night (11 straight wins, six at home), Pryor took the field for a drive that won't soon be forgotten. In case the pressure wasn't strong enough already, Pryor's backfield mate Chris "Beanie" Wells turned up the heat.
"Beanie said, 'You're in a man's world. This is what it is. So are you gonna be a man or a kid?'" Pryor recalled.
According to his birth certificate, Pryor is still a kid, a few months past his 19th birthday. But he answered Wells and the rest of the country a few minutes later, when he scooted into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown with 1:08 left in the game.
Recapping Pryor's heroics on the final drive:
On third-and-6 from the Buckeyes' 24-yard line, he found Brian Hartline over the middle for 19 yards on what head coach Jim Tressel called his third read.
On second-and-15 from the Buckeyes' 38-yard line, Pryor again found Hartline, again on the third read, this time for 27 yards.
On third-and-1 from the Wisconsin 15-yard line, Pryor plunged forward for the first down.
Two plays later, Pryor ran the option, recognized the cornerback drifting to Wells, kept the ball and darted into the end zone.
"I told him he's going to take a step into manhood right now,'" Wells said. "He told me he was ready for it and he capped it off with a touchdown.
"Once he pulls it down, I mean, it's a sight to see."
It wasn't a perfect night for Pryor. At times, he looked his age, taking a 16-yard sack in the first quarter and looking reluctant to throw the ball away or to open receivers.
But he never lost his composure, despite the setting or the significance of the situation.
"Terrelle likes to reassure me that he's fine," Tressel said, "and he is. No one was saying he wasn't fine. ... He was in the toughest full-game battle that he's been in in his college career thus far."
Last week, Pryor lashed out at ESPN's Mark May, who questioned how the freshman would perform on a big stage in a rough environment. Saturday night's performance provided the answers everyone was looking for, including the guy wearing No. 2.
"I can see what they mean, but I just want to show people that I can play," Pryor said. "I'm a decent football player."
He proved it on the field and then in the tunnel with the senior co-captains.
"The way all these kids are recruited nowadays, they come in and everyone's saying, 'They're going to be the next greatest thing to ever walk,'" Laurinaitis said. "To have these guys have the humility they do, this freshman class, and Terrelle leads that class, he's out there fighting for the seniors."
Added Jenkins: "We talked before the game how everybody needs to play for each other, not for the glory of the stats. That was just his way of letting us know that he played for us."
Pryor admits he likes direct challenges, like the one he received from Wells.
But the most important challenge went unsaid.
"I don't want to let my seniors down," Pryor said. "That'd be the worst thing ever. ... I grew up."