Terrelle Pryor playing at a near Heisman Level

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Two of the last three times that Ohio State played for the national title (2002 with Craig Krenzel and 2007 with Todd Boeckman) they had a “game manager” as their quarterback. Game manager is a euphemism for mediocre signal caller; a field general who won’t win games for you, but he also won’t lose any.

In the third instance, 2006, they had a Heisman trophy center under in Troy Smith. In 2010, Adam Rittenberg of ESPN listed Smith as the “Big Ten player of the decade.”

Smith may have been the best of the three OSU QBs, but in that title game loss, a 41-14 destruction at the hands of St. Tebow’s Florida Gators, Smith completed just four of 14 passes for 35 yards, and had an interception, a fumble, and he was sacked 5 times.

The Buckeyes current QB, Terrelle Pryor, has the potential to succeed where Smith failed and become a much more complete quarterback than all the Ohio State QBs in the Jim Tressel era. Yes, Pryor should be better than Smith. But he’s not there yet.

By Paul M. Banks

pryor-osu

A celebrating Terelle Pryor...something Illini fans should familiarize themselves with.

Terrelle Pryor hails from Jeanette, Pennsylvania, but he should have been born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania since his hype is bigger than Jesus. Yes, I know the savior was born in a different Bethlehem, but you get the point.

On game day, Pryor’s ability to lead can command larger masses of people dressed in red than Vladimir Lenin and Nikita Kruschev combined.
His numbers aren’t all that spectacular yet, and they may never get to be at the level of the Heisman QBs who thrived in more wide open offenses.

But his numbers don’t have to be. There’s so much talent around him that he doesn’t have to beat the opponent all by himself. Against Marshall Thursday night, Pryor was 17-25 for 247 yards, 3 TDs and most importantly no interceptions. Very efficient and solid, but a far cry from the flashy numbers of say, the Steve Spurrier “Fun n Gun” era.

In his last few games, Pryor isn’t making a whole of mistakes. He doesn’t always take off running for his life when a play dissolves, and he showed a lot more patience and poise Thursday night than he did during much of his first two years on campus. He made a big stride from the Michigan game last season to the Rose Bowl. And he made yet another similar pace forward tonight.

At the post game presser, the reporter from Bucknuts.com (God I just love to say that domain name. BUCKNUTS! BUCKNUTS! BUCKNUTS!) said this to Coach Jim Tressel.

“It seemed like he (Pryor) stayed with plays longer, did not anticipate trying to run the football quite as much as we’d seen the last two years and was that part because he had maybe better protection than he had?  They gave up only one sack tonight.

Tressel’s response:

“I think maybe a little bit of both.  I think he has a much greater handle on how the guys up front and the backs are going about their protection and he’s involved in the discussion on the line of scrimmage as to what the line of protection is going to be, so he has a better feel for where people are coming from and…growth that he’s had. There were some times where he sat back there and there was a lot of time.”

And Terrelle Pryor was again comfortable when the mass of media members swarmed around him. “I just felt real comfortable, and we’re such a close group that our togetherness is magic, how confident and comfortable we are together goes a long way,” he told us after the game.

If these trends continue, expect even more big plays from #2.

“For me it’s a lot of fun any time you get a big play, you get the crowd going, let them get their money’s worth and just have fun with it,” Pryor stated.

After week one, it looks like Buckeye nuts will get certainly get their money’s worth in 2010.

Written by Paul M. Banks, president and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest-focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru

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Comments

  1. Gotta pick a bone with you on Krenzel. It’s true he was a “game manager”, but he was a lot more than that. First off, he had a giant set of brass balls. He made a lot of gutsy passes – the 4th and 14 in overtime against the U and the late fourth quarter and the “Holy Buckeye” pass against Purdue – both to Micheal Jenkins – he was also a master of the first down scramble – not so much quickness but breaking tackles and bowling people over. He was a big dude. He didn’t have pro level talent, but he had pro level guts and instincts. Boeckman – not so much. Even Troy Smith, who is my hero, didn’t have those intangibles, so necessary for winning a championship, to the degree of Krenzel.

    Does Pryor have them? I doubt he has Krenzel level balls and poise, but he’s only had a couple of chances at late game heroics. Tressel cut him off at the end of last year and ran the ball. In 2008, he put together a nice drive in the last two minutes to take the lead and win against Wisconsin. And he had a really strong fourth quarter in the bowl game against Texas (although Colt McCoy put together a TD drive to win the game). So maybe the jury is still out.

    Maybe I should write a piece on this?!

  2. I think you should. You seem very knowledgeable about the topic and could probably school me a fact or two on it. Even though I am the King of all college football knowledge. You’ll notice BUCKNUTS!!!! BUCKNUTS made the same observation I did in question to the red sweater vest.

    Did you enjoy my glowing review of OSU in my other piece? I’ll give you a call sometime tomorrow on my way to or from Notre Dame to cover the game tomorrow, to talk more about the Shoe, or the team

  3. I’ll concede your pt on Krenzel, but remember my last memory of him, before he went to medical school was the 2003 Halloween night Bears-49ers game, I scored free tickets to, starting QBs- Krenzel and Ken Dorsey just like the Fiesta Bowl.

    all four QBs mentioned above were better than Justin Zwick, that’s for sure.

    and finally, with Ingram’s injury, Pryor has a better window now to campaign for the Heisman with his play

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