Saturday, April 24, 2010

GRAY EDGES SCARLET 17-14; PRYOR LOOKS GREAT IN LIMITED ACTION

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor (2) and tight end Jake Stoneburner gather on the Scarlet sideline Saturday, during the OSU Spring Game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. (Photo by The Buckeye Times' Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)

COLUMBUS — Will Ohio State open up the offense in 2010 like they did during their Rose Bowl victory over Oregon last January?

If Saturday's Spring Game was any indication, the answer is a resounding yes.

Buckeyes junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor — who was the Rose Bowl Game's Most Valuable Player — came out of the gates on Saturday slinging the football all around the yard, hitting on eight of his 12 passes — all in the first quarter — for 108 yards and a 12-yard touchdown toss to senior Dane Sanzenbacher.

Pryor only played three drives in the Scarlet's 17-14 loss to the Gray, but he definitely made a statement in the limited action that he is ready to open it up this fall.

Pryor, who was prohibited from running the football during Saturday's game, showed great poise and confidence in the pocket, even though he wasn't allowed to take off with the rock — something he has done so many times in the past.

"I think he played a good game," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said of Pryor. "You have to play with the hand that was dealt to you. He knew he wasn't going to play too much and he knew he couldn't go live on the run part of it. He focused on what he could do, which is work on his footwork and his coverage recognition.

"And decision making."

Sanzenbacher said it's all about Pryor's decision making this season.

"From my view, I think his decision making is what's improved the most over this spring," Sanzenbacher said of Pryor. "I think that in the past he's always been able to have hot streaks like that, but I think overall you don't see him make as many bad decisions anymore."

After falling behind early to the Gray, 7-0, Pryor sliced and diced the opposing defense on a 4-play, 78-yard scoring drive, which consisted of three passes to Sanzenbacher of 33, 10 and 12 yards — the final one being a touchdown.

Sanzenbacher said that he and Pryor are to a point now — going into their third season together — where it's not about words, it's about having a sense of what the other's thinking.

"To be honest, it wasn't really anything that we said to each other," Sanzenbacher explained. "I think it's just kind of the chemistry that we have built through being with each other so much."

After Pryor left the game in the first quarter, the Scarlet team wouldn't find the end zone again until the 4:48 mark of the fourth, when Bo DeLande plunged a touchdown run in from four yards out, giving the men in red a 14-10 lead.

That's when the stars of Saturday's game — red-shirt freshman quarterback Kenny Guiton and senior wide receiver Taurian Washington — answered the call.

Guiton, selected in Wednesday's draft by the seniors to be the Gray team's starting quarterback, lived up to the big role with less than five minutes to play, as he led the Gray on an impressive 11-play, 89 yard drive — connecting on passes of 8, 15, 16 and 11 yards, before he inflicted the final dagger.

With 55 seconds remaining in the game, and facing a third-and-10 from the Scarlet 45, Guiton dropped back and launched a pass deep down the left sideline to Washington, who hauled it in for the game-winning touchdown, bringing the crowd of 65,000-plus out of their seats.

"Kenny threw a great, great pass over the top," Washington smiled. "I'm glad he made the decision to put the ball up there for me."

The play was the second scoring connection between the duo on the day — the other being on a 28-yard fade route in the end zone on the Gray's opening drive of the game.

Guiton, who finished 11-of-21 passing for 167 yards and two touchdowns, was happy that he lived up the seniors' selection to make him the starter.

"It was really cool since the seniors were the ones drafting the players," Guiton said. "It shows a lot of respect on their part and it means a lot to me."

GUITON HURT? ... With 23 seconds to play in the game, Guiton rolled his knee after Scarlet defensive end Keith Wells hit him in the end zone, just as he was delivering a pass. Guiton remained on the turf for several moments, before coming to his feet and walking off the field a little gingerly.

Guiton said after the game that everything is fine with his knee.

"I went to throw and Keith Wells' helmet went to my knee," Guiton said. "I feel fine now. I think it was more of the initial pain than anything else."

T. WASH DOES IT AGAIN ... It happens every spring!

Senior receiver, Taurian Washington, has made a name for himself every spring, scoring on big plays and snagging everything that is thrown his way. Saturday's game was much of the same, as he hauled in three receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns, helping lead his Gray team to a 17-14 win over the Scarlet.

Dane Sanzenbacher said the Spring Game has become the Taurian Washington Show.

"I knew it was going to happen," Sanzenbacher said of Washington's big performance Saturday. "T. Wash is a spring game legend around here. There's no denying that he was going to get into the end zone.

"Although I did lose, I'm happy for him."

A COUPLE FOR THE HIGHLIGHT REEL ... Junior free safety Chris Maxwell made a beautiful diving interception for the Scarlet team in the second quarter, on a deep pass from Gray backup quarterback, Justin Siems.

The other top highlight came in the waning seconds of the game, when sophomore cornerback Taylor Rice put the nail in the Scarlet's coffin, by stretching out and picking off a Joe Bauserman pass at the Gray 7 yard line.