Thursday, September 2, 2010

PRYOR'S HYPE IS ABOUT TO SPREAD LIKE WILDFIRE; SAINE RUNS RAMPANT

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor relaxes on the sideline during Thursday night's win over Marshall. Photo by The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — The Heisman Trophy hype has been burning strong this preseason for Ohio State junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

Thursday night's season opener against Marshall did absolutely nothing to calm the blaze.

The talented signal caller came out slinging the football early and often on Thursday night, hitting on his first touchdown pass of the season — a six-yard pitch-and-catch to junior wideout DeVier Posey — less than two minutes into the game.

Before Marshall even knew what happened, Pryor struck their secondary again, this time on a 65-yard touchdown strike deep down the middle of the field to senior Dane Sanzenbacher.

"Safeties stayed down, that's how it rolled and Terrelle put it on the money for me," Sanzenbacher said of the scoring toss."

Pryor was efficient, he was decisive, he was the player that Ohio State envisioned him being coming out of high school in 2008. He hit on seven of his 11 passes in the first quarter for 130 yards, two touchdowns, with completions to four different Buckeye receivers.

It didn't stop there.

Pryor continued his assault in the second half, driving the Buckeyes 80 yards on the opening series, connecting on passes of nine and 20, before hitting Posey in the right side of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown — his third of the game.

With the Buckeyes leading big in the second half, OSU head coach Jim Tressel decided to reel in his star quarterback after three quarters of action. He finished the game 17-of-25 for 247 yards and three touchdowns.

But more important than numbers was the way Pryor looked throwing the football. His passes were crisp and precise, and he delivered each without hesitation.

"I thought Terrelle had confidence in where he was going with the ball," Tressel said. I thought his anticipation was good. Sometimes when you're wearing a black jersey since April and you know you can hold the ball a little longer, you might not let it go as quickly as you need. I thought he did a pretty good job of that."

Tressel stated that his quarterback has a much better feel for the game now that he's in his third year as a starter.

"I think he has a greater handle on how the backs and guys up front are going about their protections," Tressel said. "He has a much better feel of where people are coming from ... just those experiences and growth that he's had."

Simply said, Pryor's just more comfortable now.

Comfortable enough to be holding the Heisman at season's end?

Well, it's still a little early, but one thing's for sure ... that fire is about to spread quickly.

SAINE GOES NUTS ... Pryor may have all the Heisman hype but senior tailback Brandon Saine certainly grabbed the attention of the voters on Thursday night.

Saine wasted little time making his presence felt against the Herd, gashing the Marshall defense for 49 yards on his first three carries, including a 40-yard jaunt which set up his four-yard TD run on the second offensive series of the game.

The senior captain was back at it again late in the first half when he took a first down handoff up the middle, bounced to the right and raced 45 yards untouched to the house for his second score of the day, giving the Buckeyes a 28-7 lead over the reeling Herd.

"Brandon Saine when he hits that gear, he can go," Tressel said. "The o-line picked up the blitz, found a crease and B. Saine was out of there."

Saine had 103 yards on eight carries and two scores in the first half. He only added one more carry for no gain, before Tressel lassoed him in midway through the second half.