August 14, 2009

Success hinges on Pryor's improvement

COLUMBUS - Coming into his freshman season at Ohio State, quarterback Terrelle Pryor was arguably the most hyped recruit in the history of the college football recruitment game.

Needless to say, the only thing that trumped the excitement to watch him play entering last season were the lofty expectations that came along with it.

Last year, however, Pryor had the freshman inexperience to fall back on as a crutch just in case everything didn't go according to plan. This season, significant improvement isn't something that people are hoping for but rather expecting.

Leading a program of Ohio State's national relevance could be cause for some serious stress, but Pryor's confidence in his ability to make those significant strides could lead to an explosion in his sophomore season.

"I expected a lot of improvement (from myself) game after game last year," Pryor said. "I think I improved a little bit. Maybe the passes weren't exactly on point, but I tried and worked hard in every practice and I improved and improved. I will try not to let anyone down, but I am not perfect. No one is perfect. I just come out and play football."

In what is a testament to his accomplishments of last season, Pryor admitted to the media that he was truly a rookie when taking over the reigns of the Ohio State offense from then-senior Todd Boeckman early in the year.

When regarding the actual understanding of the game, Pryor said that he wasn't fully clued in on everything that was going on around him, whether that means running his own offense or reading the sets of the opposing defenses.

This year, Pryor said all that has changed.

"I didn't know the offense and I didn't know defenses, and that's a big factor," Pryor said of last season. "I pretty much jumped in. We didn't have time. I came here in the summer time and I didn't have time to spend with coaches 1-on-1 and stuff like that.

"(Now) I know the defenses (snap of his fingers) like that," Pryor added.

What cannot go ignored is Pryor's progress when it comes to throwing the football given he had been labeled as a pure-rushing quarterback that had issues in the passing game last year.

The No. 1 question regarding whether or not Pryor will live up to the improvements is if he will make those steps in the passing game. Ohio State's success is probably hinging on their aerial attack in 2009 and Pryor has done everything he can to be a better passer this season.

Now that quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano is the passing coordinator, Pryor said he expects Ohio State's offense to look different in the passing game and the Buckeyes will try and "get the ball downfield more."

"Just footwork and stuff like that. We are working on it," Pryor said of his passing mechanics. "There are a lot of things that go with it. Techniques with the footwork and keeping the back foot good, follow through, drive through, and stuff like that. We just need to work on it� There are things I am working on to get (the new techniques) to be second nature.

"We will see if I can throw on Sept. 5," Pryor added. "We will look pretty good. We have athletes all around and its up to me to get the ball to them and once I get the ball to them they will go to work with it."

While Pryor could be one of the more gifted athletes in terms of athleticism to play at Ohio State for a long time, the fact of the matter is this isn't high school any more. Each opponent has top-grade athletes and the Big Ten Conference is a top-notch group of schools.

Pryor understands that now, even if he made some things look easy last season as a freshman.

"In high school ball, you just go out and ball. You go out and have fun and score as many touchdowns as you can," Pryor said. "In college you have great coaches all around and they can teach you all types of different things, and techniques and stuff like that. It's a lot different in college."

Labeled as one of the best players in the conference, if not the country, the pressure will surely be on Pryor to perform not only on the ground, but also in the passing game.

"I can really care less about what people outside the locker room think," Pryor said.

What really is important is what he and his teammates think, Pryor said, and knowing the attitude toward the game that he possesses, anything less than those expectations won't be good enough.

Like he said, Pryor will let the games decide.

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