October 9, 2010

Banged up Pryor has big day

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel felt like his quarterback was being sacked all afternoon in the Buckeyes' 38-10 win over Indiana Saturday in Ohio Stadium.

"It seemed like about minus 200 yards (rushing) to me," Tressel said.

Though Buckeye quarterback Terrelle Pryor was only sacked three times by the Indiana defense, it isn't customary for Pryor to be taken down in the backfield.

Pryor is usually seen escaping heavy pressure and breaking off big runs for Ohio State en route to moving the chains or even a getting to the end zone with his feet. On Saturday, the junior quarterback did neither.

Presumably because Pryor was still nursing a quad strain sustained last weekend at Illinois, the quarterback said he was focused on throwing first on Saturday against the Hoosiers.

"I really wanted to rest (the quad) up because going into Wisconsin next week and I wanted to stay in (the pocket)," Pryor said. "I really just wanted to stick in and throw the ball today.

"Coach Tress knows I know what I can do with my body," the quarterback continued. "This week I really focused on staying in the pocket and throwing the ball. I just really wanted to get the ball out today and throw the ball and try and rest my leg as much as possible."

Tressel has said in the past that he would like Pryor to carry the ball anywhere between seven and 10 times per game, but the Buckeyes didn't call a designed run for Pryor all afternoon.

Designed runs have been a big piece of the Buckeye offense all season, but Tressel said the condition of Pryor's leg had nothing to do with the decision making when it came to the play calling.

"I've said to you before, we don't do a whole bunch of designed called quarterback runs," Tressel said. "We think that he's naturally going to get some step-ups and so forth. We didn't really have that need. The protection was good. When it broke down, it broke down such that there was nowhere to go.

"But could we have (run)? Yeah," he continued. "We could have, but that's not what we thought we needed to do."

Pryor's injury was somewhat swept under the rug this week and the quarterback did say he was in pain during the week leading up to Saturday's game. However, Pryor did his best to sprint in order to protect the quad, which was visible at times when he escaped Hoosier pressure.

"I felt good. I am still human. I am still in a tiny bit of pain but at the same time it wasn't enough pain where I had to sit out," Pryor said. "I didn't want to run the ball and you could tell I didn't want to. I wanted to throw the ball."

As a result of Pryor's determination to throw the ball, the quarterback completed 24-of-30 passes and racked up a career-high 334 passing yards, the 10th highest single game passing total in Ohio State history.

The quarterback racked up three first half touchdown passes, one time DeVier Posey, one to Brandon Saine, and one to Dane Sanzenbacher.

"He's coming along," Tressel said of Pryor. "(Completing) 24 for 30's pretty good. The big one is no interceptions. If we can do that, we have a chance in every game."

Though visibly slowed at times against the Hoosiers, Pryor remained comfortable in the pocket the entire day while delivering crisp passes. Next Saturday when Ohio State travels to Madison to take on Wisconsin, it may not be that simple.

Pryor has been the team's leading rusher all season, but finished with -19 rushing yards on Saturday, figuring in the three sacks. Just like two years ago when Pryor was a freshman, the Buckeyes are hoping Pryor will be ready to run next Saturday.

In the final minute of Ohio State's 20-17 win over Wisconsin two years again the quarterback's freshman year, Pryor had an 11-yard touchdown run with just over a minute remaining in the game to lift the Buckeyes.

Last weekend after Pryor left the locker room following his quad strain, Pryor promised he'd play against the Hoosiers. After the Indiana game, Pryor had another promise.

"I'll be running next weekend," Pryor said. "I'll be running."

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.


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