NEWS

After lackluster win over Purdue, Buckeyes prepare for Michigan State

Todd Porter

Beanie Wells had the flu. Ohio State’s offense, well, it needs more than antibiotics, and the Buckeyes could’ve put more people to sleep faster than Nyquil Saturday afternoon.

“We didn’t get near as much done as we need to get done,” Head Coach Jim Tressel said of an offense that failed to score an offensive touchdown in Saturday’s lackluster win against unranked Purdue.

It doesn’t get any easier this week. A week before playing No. 3 Penn State in a night game at Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes must steer clear of disaster in East Lansing when 20th-ranked Michigan State hosts OSU. No coach in the country knows Tressel and his offense -- at least what was his offense -- better than MSU’s Mark Dantonio.

He was the defensive coordinator during the Buckeyes 2002 national title.

Dantonio may be Tressel’s closest friend in the coaching ranks. The two usually spend hours one night each year at the Big Ten media days talking about anything but football.

“They’ve won six in a row and they’ve got a veteran team, they’ve got a great leader in Javon Ringer. ... Defensively they’re tough.

“Yes, we do know those guys that coach over there and we know they’ll have them tremendously prepared and we’re going to their house, which is difficult in the Big Ten to go away, and we know we’ll have our hands full and we need to be ready for it.”

For most of the last eight quarters, the Buckeye offense has been disappointing. Outside of the first and last drives at Wisconsin, which has lost three in a row, freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his teammates have struggled to sustain drives.

Against Purdue, the Buckeyes passed for just 97 yards.

Many fingers pointed at an offensive line that has been a disappointment all season. Since Pryor has taken over at quarterback -- in part because of the offensive line and a need to have a QB that can scrambling and dodge bullets -- defenses have adjusted to OSU’s option. Running room for the athletic QB was nonexistent against Purdue, and that’s the worst defense in the Big Ten.

Pryor gained just 31 yards on 14 attempts.

“There was no way to run the option,” Pryor said. “They took away the whole thing. They did a great job with that stuff. They were just all over the place when we were running.”

Wells wants to see the offense throw more passes. Pryor welcomed the opportunity. Other teammates challenged Pryor to have more confidence in his arm.

Where’s it all leading?

Maybe to losses the next two weeks. Maybe to a climb back into the top 10 with wins at Michigan State and a win the following week against No. 3 Penn State.

“Terrelle needs to have more confidence throwing the ball,” tight end Jake Ballard said. “He’s doing well on his feet, but he has to believe in his arm.”

Tressel probably isn’t inclined to play musical quarterbacks and fracture a freshman’s confidence. But it appears there was some thought about putting fifth-year senior and captain Todd Boeckman in the game Saturday.

“We were probably less concerned, or less discussion about that as we were talking about how could we gain control of the line of scrimmage and become more consistent,” Tressel said. “... There weren’t any huge discussions about that (Boeckman).”

If Purdue had a one-dimensional Pryor figured out, it’s a safe bet Dantonio’s defense will, too. Then again, Tressel may not have wanted to show Dantonio any cards he hasn’t seen before at Ohio State.

The Repository