Observations from the Ohio State – USC game

That was a tough loss for the Buckeyes on Saturday night. They had the game, but basically handed it to USC at the end. The defense played great all night, so you can’t blame them for the game, though the last drive was very disappointing.

-Tressel needs to give up the play calling. We’ve said this over and over again. Tressel can’t seem to manage the game properly. He’s been out-coached in big games that have turned into blowouts, and he’s also watched as his team’s have blown leads on the final drive. He needs to make a change.

-Terrelle Pryor has a long way to go. He’s a physical specimen, but his decision-making sucks. While we can criticize Tressel for his calls, Pryor had real trouble executing the game plan. He took way to many losses in the backfield. He never seems to know when he should throw the ball away. His accuracy also sucks. Based on what we saw on Saturday, this kid will never be an NFL QB. He needs to focus on being a good college QB first, and that means using his head AND his legs to move the ball.

-The D-line is awesome. We heard plenty of talk about the USC o-line, and how they had a bunch of NFL forst-rounders. Well, either their stock fell or the stock of the Buckeye d-linemen shot up as they made big plays all night.

-The o-line is pretty bad. This is a huge disappointment for the Buckeyes. They need to take a long look at their recruiting. They seem to find plenty of big white guys from Ohio, but few of them have real athleticism. Size isn’t everything, so they need to figure out how to narrow their focus on guys that can play the game.

This game was a tough one to take. Jim Tressel has been a great head coach, and it’s great to see the Buckeyes competing every year, but he needs to step up his game and adopt to the new reality. Find the best young coach out there and make him your offensive coordinator.

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Few people give Ohio State a chance tonight

This is understandable in one sense given recent history, but it’s also ridiculous when you consider that Terrelle Pryor has the ability to carry a team on his back. If Tressel sticks with the option and the QB running plays we saw against Navy, then they should be able to move the ball and neutralize the problems they have on the offensive line. Pryor will need to make some big plays and avoid turnovers for the Buckeyes to win, but he’s certainly capable of doing just that.

Also, USC will be relying on their running game. While that is a real threat, this should make for a closer game as long as Ohio State avoids giving up the big run. The key here is the Buckeye d-line. If they can step up like they did last year in Texas, then the Bucks have a real chance.

Finally, we have the issue of USC’s freshman QB. He may play great – he may not. Nobody really knows what will happen. But a poor performance gives the Buckeyes a real chance of winning this game.

The Buckeyes looked fine against Navy

Jim Tressel’s game management sucked, but fans shouldn’t worry much about that when evaluating the first game. The bottom line with Tressel is that he’s always learning about his teams early in the season, but despite the close scores he rarely loses games the Buckeyes are supposed to win. That said, his decision to pass on the field goal in the fourth quarter was stupid, and he should stop using his backup QB in the second quarter. Put the game away, and THEN start playing the backups.

As for the team, Terrelle Pryor looked great, and that’s the most important factor to consider when evaluating the prospects for the Buckeyes this season. Just as important, Tressel is using him properly. He ran numerous option plays, QB draws and roll-outs. They will need to ride Pryor’s legs if they want to make a splash this season. But Pryor did more than that. He threw the ball well and made completions when he also could have run the ball. This will make his running even more lethal if defenders have to respect the pass.

Brandon Saine also looked good splitting time with Dan Herron, giving the Buckeyes a solid rotation at tailback, and the young receivers also looked good.

On the downside, the offensive line doesn’t look very good. They had some good moments, but they were very inconsistent. Pryor obviously can avoid the rush so they can work around this, but the o-line has to improve if they want to beat USC.

As for the defense, they did fine, though it’s hard to learn much given that Navy was running the triple option. We’ll see how they do next week when the Trojans invade the Shoe.

Pryor is the key. If he develops as expected, the Buckeyes can beat anyone when he plays well. He seems ready to take on the challenge.

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