Terrelle Pryor's "extra dimension" - That's a phrase that IU Coach Bill Lynch used to describe the Buckeyes' 6'6", 235-pound quarterback. While Pryor's playmaking abilities give the Ohio State offense some added components, it gives opposing defenses some added headaches.
The reason is simple – Pryor is type of player who can make something out of nothing on just about any play. Indiana's secondary can be sound in pass coverage, only to see Pryor tuck the ball and scramble for a first down. The Hoosier linebackers could be well positioned to wrap up Pryor on either a designed or improvised run, only to have him shed their tackle by using his unique blend of size, strength and speed at the quarterback position.
"Pryor jumps out at you," Lynch said this week. "He is a tremendous athlete of physical size that you are not used to seeing at quarterback with his kind of mobility."
The challenge for Indiana's defense will be to do its best at keeping Pryor from taking over the game individually, and at the same time accepting that no matter how well they execute the defensive game plan, Pryor is going to make a handful of plays during the course of the game. Indiana's players can minimize those types of plays by playing sound, assignment football, but they can't eliminate them.
"You have to keep him in the pocket, don't make him a dual threat," said IU defensive end Greg Middleton. "Make him beat you with his arm. I think he'll try to get out of the pocket, but we have to contain him."
Points won't be easy to come by – Make no mistake – Indiana's 36-33 setback at Michigan was a confidence booster. Sure, the non-conference victories against Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan and Akron showed Bill Lynch's team they were improved from a year ago, but the narrow setback in Ann Arbor probably did more than any of the other games to get this Indiana team to believe it belongs on the field with the Big Ten's best.
With that said, make no mistake about this – Ohio State's defense is a whole lot better than Michigan's. Sure the Buckeyes had some problems defending Navy's triple-option attack in a season-opening 31-27 win, but they've since been dominant in holding USC to 18 points and then shutting out both Toledo (which is averaging 43.7 points in its other three games) and Illinois.
With that in mind, Indiana is going to have to show that it can be opportunistic on offense. A big scoring play would be huge against the Buckeyes' stout defense, and Lynch's team will also have to be productive when it does manage to get into the red zone. Settling for field goals again this weekend won't be good enough.
Defensively, Indiana is going to have to show that it's good enough to keep a team of Ohio State's caliber in the teens. The Buckeyes are too good defensively to think IU can score in the 30s like it did a week ago against Michigan. If Indiana is going to keep this game close it's going to need to be a field position type of contest where 20 or 21 points is enough to pull out the victory.
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday – Four Names to Know
On Wednesday – Three Key Match-Ups
On Thursday – Two Big Concerns
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
OHIO STATE: Two Days and Counting
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