Buckeyes Offense Getting More Dangerous

The emergence of Terrelle Pryor and the return of Beanie Wells makes Ohio State even more dangerous to the Gophers than have been of late.

In one breath, Jim Tressel conceded that the injury to Beanie Wells hurried along Terrelle Pryor's timeline, just to get another playmaker on the offense. Then later, Tressel downplayed Wells' injury by saying, "every circumstance that occurs affects the whole."

Regardless how much Wells' injury played into the decision to move Pryor into the starting role, the simple fact remains that the Buckeyes might finally have their entire starting offense available when the Gophers come to town Sept. 27.

Wells has been upgraded to probable for the Gophers, although he'll likely be limited to a few carries, because the Buckeyes open as 17-point favorites and have a much more difficult task looming the following week at Wisconsin. Consider this just an opportunity for Wells to knock off some of the rust after missing 3.5 weeks with a mysterious toe injury.

"[Sept. 22] Beanie ran every snap he was asked to run, looked to me better than I thought he might look, says he feels wonderful," Tressel said.

He'll return to an offense that barely resembles the one he left. With Pryor now the starting quarterback, the run will likely be featured out of the "pistol" formation installed specifically for Pryor. The Gophers, who rank ninth in the conference in rushing yards allowed, will be the first real test.

"I think [Wells' return] adds to our arsenal," Tressel said. "He's a good back. He can do some things. ... I was encouraged at how he looked and how he said he felt."


  • The Buckeyes are 92nd in the country in total offense and 105th against the pass. The two worst teams in the Big Ten in those categories? Ohio State and Michigan.

  • Terrelle Pryor's four touchdown passes against Troy set a new freshman record for touchdown passes in a game. Art Schlichter previously held the mark, throwing three in a game in 1978.

  • RB Beanie Wells (toe) is probable. He likely won't get more than 10 or so carries, though, as he works his way back after missing the last three games.

  • LG Steve Rehring (foot) is still out for at least another week. Freshman Michael Brewster will continue to start at center, with former center Jim Cordle shifting over to guard.

  • Backup LB Austin Spitler, a force on special teams, is out with a leg injury.

  • Sophomore Cameron Heyward has moved from end to defensive tackle in hopes of shoring up a porous defensive line. Thaddeus Gibson is the new starter at defensive end, while Dexter Larimore has been pushed to a backup at tackle.

    SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: For the first time since the opener, the skill positions might be back to full strength this week with the expected return of Beanie Wells. It would be a huge boost for an offense that has struggled moving the ball in his absence. In three games against FBS schools, the Buckeyes have exceeded 300 yards of total offense just once — last week against Troy.

    SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Cameron Heyward has moved from defensive end to tackle to try and strengthen one of the biggest weaknesses on the team. In his place, Thaddeus Gibson is listed as the starter at defensive end. The line isn't getting enough pressure on quarterbacks, proven by the six sacks through four games. With essentially the same defense backfield, the Buckeyes are allowing more than a yard per carry more than they were last season — 2.5 yards last year compared to 3.7 this year.

    THIS WEEK'S GAME: Minnesota at Ohio State, Sept. 27 — The Gophers believe they have a chance, based on the Buckeyes' struggles with inferior opponents and the whipping Ohio State took at USC. At 4-0, the Gophers' confidence is at an all-time high. If they force a couple turnovers early, anything is possible. Minnesota's last win in Ohio Stadium came in 2000, John Cooper's final year with the Buckeyes.


    QB Terrelle Pryor — The unquestioned starter on offense, he threw four touchdown passes in his debut. It won't be quite so easy against Minnesota, a team that leads the Big Ten in forcing turnovers.

    RB Beanie Wells — Expected to play after missing 3.5 weeks with a mysterious toe injury. Wells' 111 yards are more than half of freshman Dan Herron's total (212), despite the fact that Herron has played in three more games.

    CB Malcolm Jenkins — Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber has thrown just one interception this year and generally protects the ball well. Jenkins is the best ballhawking defensive back on Ohio State.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "All preseason, all August and September long, ... from a knowledge standpoint, he was so far along, probably further along than I've ever seen a freshman quarterback. Then you add the dimension of what he can do with his feet maybe makes up a little bit for when you're a little shorthanded at running back compared to what you thought you were going to be." — coach Jim Tressel, on why the change at quarterback from senior Todd Boeckman to freshman Terrelle Pryor.

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