QUICK LOOK BACK: Last season, the disappointment at least didn’t happen in the national title game. Still, the Buckeyes had a chance to wash off some BCS stink, but allowed Texas quarterback Colt McCoy to put himself in the running for the Heisman with a late comeback in the Fiesta Bowl. That was the downside. The up is QB Terrelle Pryor. The stamp on his is “real deal.” He’s the most dynamic player in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes said goodbye to a bucket of all-timers, including RB Beanie Wells, LB James Laurinaitis, CB Malcolm Jenkins and LT Alex Boone. But it’s Ohio State, so a new crop of all-timers are in the chute, surely.
FOURTH DOWN — CONCERNS: You don’t lose a Beanie Wells — yes, durability issues, I know — without taking a hit in production, at least potentially. So far, Dan Herron and Brandon Saine have been fill-ins and guys with pretty high school resumes. They take center stage this fall. Will it be an RBBC (running back by committee, for you sane folks who stay away from fantasy football)? Will “Boom” (Herron) or “Zoom” (Saine) take charge? The Buckeyes might have issues at corner. Chimdi Chekwa owns one spot, but he might’ve suffered a hamstring injury during track. Those are tricky, especially at a speed position. The other spot is up in the air, but Devon Torrence, a former Astros minor leaguer, might have an in after a strong spring.
THIRD DOWN — STRENGTHS: Pryor’s performance in Ohio State’s spring game — a national record crowd of 95,722 fans attended — might’ve eased whatever concerns were out there about Pryor’s arm and accuracy. He completed 13 of 18 for 191 yards and two TDs. Still doubting Pryor? He led the Big Ten in pass efficiency (146.5) and he’s Ohio State’s leading returning rusher (631 yards, 4.5 a carry). His footwork is improved, showing up in the high percentage effort in the spring game. Is he at the level where he’ll make his teammates better?
SECOND DOWN — THE TALK: “I really want to be like a great quarterback. People tell me I can’t throw and this and that, and I’m not that good and I’m overrated and all that .” — Pryor in an interview with ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, who asked Pryor who says that. “A bunch of people. Michigan players e-mail me and stuff.”
“You saw today, and the world saw today, I can throw the ball.” — Pryor after the spring game.
Sense a theme here?
FIRST DOWN — THE PLAY: Jim Tressel could lead OSU to its fifth consecutive Big Ten title this year. At this point, Big Ten fans might pine for the days of the “big two and little eight.” Take out the BCS failures, this run of Big Ten success is mega-impressive. Let’s not kid ourselves, the Buckeyes are poised for “one for the thumb” in ’09. Pryor and the mile-wide chip on his shoulder might be enough on offense. But pair that with two RBs who are eager to bust out on their own and an offensive line with Michigan transfer Justin Boren, a brute force who’ll only be too happy to make his former school smart, the Bucks are set on O. Defense has questions at LB and CB, but the line might be among the best in Tressel’s era.