October 9, 2009

Pryor's versatility draws interest from UW defense

MADISON, Wis. - Just looking at Terrelle Pryor's size, you would think he is a intimidating linebacker. You would think receivers would be afraid of going across the middle of the field. You would think he licks his chops when a screen pass is called or the opposing team throws into the flat.

Think again.

At 6-foot-6, Pryor is the key that makes Ohio State's offense run. As the starting quarterback, he is the oil that keeps the team churning and he is the leader among a unit that lost a number of talented players from a season ago.

He runs like a gazelle, both smooth and deceptively fast. And oh yeah, he can pass a little bit too. And come Saturday, Wisconsin, it's your job to stop him.

"He's just a freak athlete," UW sophomore defensive tackle Patrick Butrym said. "That offense definitely runs around him. Everybody knows who he is. That's all you can really say. You can only really hope to contain a guy like that because you're not going to stop him completely."

Through five games for the Buckeyes, Pryor's numbers have been relatively modest in comparison to the effect he has on a game. Passing wise, the sophomore has completed only 58.3 percent of his passes for 861 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions.

On the ground, he is the team's leading rusher with 55 carries for 298 yards and three touchdowns. On average, Pryor accounts for more than 230 yards of total offense.

"He's still making plays," UW junior strong safety Jay Valai said. "He's a little more heady, he's a great playmaker and he runs that offense 100 percent especially now that Beanie Wells isn't there anymore. Terrelle Pryor is a great football player."

As a sophomore, Pryor does not have near the amount of weapons he had as a true freshman a season ago. Wells is no longer in the backfield and Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie are no longer flanking the receiver spots.

Enter Brandon Saine, fresh off his first ever 100-yard rushing day at Indiana, and Dan Herron in the Buckeye backfield and Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Poser at the receiver spot.

Maybe not the names of Buckeye past, but talented players nonetheless. And just more weapons for Pryor to play with.

"Sanzenbacher, he's a good receiver on the inside," Valai said. "They got Duron Carter, Chris Carter's son, and a couple other guys out there making plays. Brandon Saine, coming out of the backfield, he makes a lot of plays too."

But most importantly for Ohio State, Pryor, one of the best athletes in the country, is the one in control of making the offense work. On the season, the Buckeyes are averaging 29.4 points per game and nearly 370 yards of total offense.

Considering Pryor accounts for 62 percent of that yardage, obviously slowing him down would go a long way in helping UW escape the Horseshoe with a win.

"He's a playmaker," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "As he gains more experience and more knowledge, you can see the coaches give him more and more. I think they really play to his strengths more so than any of the other players. They got a bevy of guys at running back that do a good job. They got wide receivers that are talented. Their tight ends are good. Their offensive line is good.

"We're just going to show up and see what happens."

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