Several million Ohioans are wishing they had electricity.
About 120 of them were wishing they did not. As the Ohio State football team arrived back in Columbus following a 35-3 thrashing at the hands of USC on Sept. 13, the Buckeyes returned to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to begin the process of breaking down tape from the defeat.
“I was hoping on Sunday when we got back to watch the film that the power would be out,” head coach Jim Tressel said at his weekly press luncheon.
The Buckeye team Tressel now finds himself manning figures to have a few changes when it takes the field Sept. 20 against Troy (Noon, Big Ten Network). Injured tailback Chris “Beanie” Wells has been upgraded to questionable for the contest, but for the first time in two weeks the status of the team’s top tailback was not the primary topic of discussion.
Instead, the focus was on the quarterback position and the controversy brewing under center. After sixth-year senior Todd Boeckman and true freshman Terrelle Pryor found themselves splitting time on a play-by-play basis against the Trojans, Tressel did not confirm that Boeckman would be the starter the following week immediately after the game.
Three days later, that sentiment has not changed – and the “Pryor for starter” campaign continues to gain momentum.
After consulting the offensive coaching staff, Tressel said the plan for Tuesday was to have Pryor take 65 percent of the reps and Boeckman the other 35 percent. Those figures are partially owing to Boeckman’s experience, but also to the performances of each player.
Had OSU played Troy on Monday night, the Buckeyes would have seen Boeckman and Pryor evenly split snaps.
“That’s certainly affected by what Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday look like, and it’s affected by what the first quarter, second quarter and beyond look like,” Tressel said.
The starter would be determined by the situation when the game began, the coach said.
Having two quarterbacks often means that each does not get enough total snaps in practice or in games to make adequate progress, Tressel said.
Pryor has gained more and more reps in practice as his play has merited them. At the beginning of the season, Boeckman would get 50 percent of the first-team snaps and the final 50 snaps were evenly divided between Pryor and redshirt freshman Joe Bauserman. Boeckman’s role then increased to 75 percent by the time the season began.
Now the nation’s former No. 1 prospect is threatening to take the starting job in just the fourth week of his freshman season – a development Tressel admitted he did not think would happen.
“Terrelle has progressed with the lack of snaps in practice and the game more than you think he would,” Tressel said. “I’ve seen a freshman get kind of thrown into the fire and grow every practice and grow every game because he got so much experience. I’ve seen him grow with a little bit less experience, which means he’s done a good job of learning by observing, which is the hardest thing for a player to do.”
There are other changes possibly on tap as well, although perhaps not as many as disgruntled fans would like to see. Senior left guard Steve Rehring is out for the game, and his loss could see a shakeup across the entire line.
During the second half against USC, the Buckeyes tried two solutions. First, sophomore Andy Miller replaced him at left guard. As the game progressed, sophomore Bryant Browning – who has started all three games this year at right tackle – moved to left guard and true freshman J.B. Shugarts worked in at right tackle.
Both of those lineups are possible this weekend, as is a third. True freshman Michael Brewster spent time Monday working at the left guard spot as well.
The uncertainty on the line was enough cause for concern that the Buckeyes did not name a Jim Parker Offensive Lineman of the Week. Tressel said it was just one aspect of the game that helped to hinder the play of Boeckman, who tossed two interceptions and had one of them returned for a touchdown.
“Is it disappointing that we had a couple turnovers? Absolutely,” Tressel said. “Is that a problem? Yes. Do I think he’s capable of not having those turnovers and doing what we need to do? Yes. Are some of those things in part because we weren't as good as we could have been on the offensive line? Yes. We weren't as good as we could have been out wide? Yes. And everything in between.”
In other injury-related news, sophomore Tyler Moeller and junior Todd Denlinger are expected to be available for action this week. Wells’ status will be continually evaluated as the week progresses.