Saturday, October 24, 2009

OBSERVATIONS FROM OHIO STATE'S 38-7 WIN OVER MINNESOTA

Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey (8) is congratulated by teammates' Jim Cordle, left, and Zach Boren, following a touchdown during Saturday's win over Minnesota, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. (Photo by Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)

COLUMBUS — For those people who wanted Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor replaced going into Saturday's game against Minnesota ... well ... they got their wish.

Of course, before he was relegated to the pine, the sophomore signal caller racked up 343 total yards, threw two touchdown passes, and ran for a couple more, in the No. 18 Buckeyes' 38-7 pummeling of the visiting Golden Gophers.

Pryor, who has been under fire for his poor performances in the Buckeyes' past two games — including a miserable outing during last Saturday's upset loss at Purdue — said that his teammates and coaches helped him bounce back with a solid outing against Minnesota.

"I think I got a little bit cocky about myself and last week really humbled me," Pryor said. "Sometimes you get caught up in the moment being the top guy, getting some type of attitude. I was swerving over a little bit to the cocky side. It was good to be brought back down to Earth, having the resources to pull me back down to Earth and treat people right.

"I'm just glad I have the type of teammates I have. I love all of those guys."

Pryor seemed extremely comfortable running the Buckeyes' offense Saturday, beating the Golden Gophers' defense with both his arm and his legs in the victory, while making good decisions with the football for most of the game.

In fact, Pryor — who finished 13-of-25 passing for 239 yards — made just one questionable decision in the game, throwing an interception deep in Minnesota territory with just seconds remaining before halftime.

OSU head coach Jim Tressel, even with the poor decision late in the first half, was very pleased with his young signal caller's performance Saturday.

"I thought he did a good job making decisions," Tressel said of Pryor. "The one interception, he really feels it was a poor decision. I couldn't tell from where I was, it looked like the ball was just a little bit behind Dane (Sanzenbacher) and perhaps if it was thrown on the line it was good, but he feels like he shouldn't have (thrown it). He wishes he had that one back.

"But I really thought he made some good decisions on checkoffs and throwing the ball. He wasn't under duress quite as much, you know, maybe as we were a week ago, and obviously he can make things happen with his feet. He had 104 yards, so he had a good ball game."

Ohio State totaled 509 yards offensively in the win — 38 more than the Buckeyes compiled in their last two games combined.

The Buckeyes were able to move the ball well on Minnesota's defense for much of the first half, but weren't able to cash in on points until the 9:47 mark of the second quarter. When they did cash in, though, it was in spectacular fashion.

Following a personal foul call on the Golden Gophers which gave the Buckeyes a first down at their own 38-yard line, Pryor dropped back to pass and hit a wide-open DeVier Posey for 62 yards and the 7-0 lead.

The duo did it again a quarter later, when Pryor rolled left and uncorked a beautiful spiraling toss that hit Posey in stride for 57 yards and their second touchdown of the afternoon.

The Pryor-to-Posey connection was stellar in the victory, as the two sophomores hooked up eight times on the day for 161 yards and the two TD's.

"We felt like DeVier was always going to end up being a good player and he's steadily done that," Tressel said. "He had a little bit of a hamstring or something in preseason where he missed a bunch of time and didn't develop quite like we'd hoped early on there.

"But, DeVier's going to be a good player. He's got a long way to go, but he's a learner. He studies it. He's an explosive guy. He wants to be good ... he's just got to keep working on it."

Posey agrees with his coach's assessment.

"I feel like I still have a lot of learning to do," Posey said. "The touchdowns feel good but I'm only half of the equation. Terrelle made great passes.

"I feel, personally, that I'm nowhere near where I want to be yet. I haven't reached my full potential, especially because of my hamstring issue early on. I'm learning a lot and really trying to incorporate that knowledge onto the field."

WHOA! LOOK AT THE BIG MAN CHUG — Red-shirt freshman running back, Jermil Martin, helped fill-in for an injured Brandon Saine on Saturday afternoon, and made his presence felt in a huge way.

The 6-0, 227-pound wrecking ball runner from Cleveland (Glenville H.S.), carried the rock seven times for 75 yards in the win, including a bruising 39-yard jaunt to paydirt in the fourth quarter — the first of his career.

"It felt good to score a touchdown," Martin said. "It was a dream come true. It felt great to be able to help the team, I've always had that drive and motivation and it was great to go out and show it today. Terrelle (Pryor) told me 'good job' and that I was finally proving myself."

The big man may need to continue proving himself, as the injury bug bit the Buckeyes backfield once again this week, as Saine had to leave the game with a concussion. Daniel "Boom" Herron has missed the past two games with an ankle injury and his return is still unknown.

True freshman Jordan Hall also had a solid performance, totaling 38 yards and a touchdown in relief of Saine.

DEFENSE HOLDS STRONG — Ohio State's starting defense did surrender some yards early in the game, but held the Golden Gophers' offense from getting any points on the board.

The Buckeyes made Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber's life a living hell on Saturday, sacking the Gophers' passer twice and forcing him into two interceptions and a lost fumble.

Weber ended the game with just 112 yards on 10-of-23 passing and no touchdowns. Weber's backup, Marquise Gray, had a little more success in the loss, throwing for 51 yards and a touchdown — during garbage time — while rushing for 81 yards on 11 totes.

Gray was also sacked twice in the defeat.

OSU defensive end, Thaddeus Gibson, was the catalyst in the Buckeyes assault of the Minnesota passers, logging three sacks, six tackles and a fumble recovery in the victory.

"I don't think I've done anything like that since high school," Gibson said. "It felt great. I Have to credit the rest of my line, they made my job a lot easier."

WHAT'S NEXT — The Buckeyes, now 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten, will host New Mexico State in a non-conference tilt at Ohio Stadium next Saturday.

Tressel hopes his team keeps their focus as they jump out of conference play for a week.

"We really have to focus in this coming week," Tressel said. "Sometimes when you leave your conference schedule, when that's really paramount in your mind, you can have the tendency to lose that focus a little bit."