Cus Words: Learning To Fly

Pink Floyd is on our mind as we look back at how Ohio State aired it out to beat Ohio. Read on to find out why it was no momentary lapse of reason for a coach who loves to move the ball on the ground. With another MAC opponent on the docket this week, we're wondering if next week's theme could come from Dark Side Of The Moon: On The Run.

What we learned last week: Ohio State can be a ball-control passing team if it wants to be. This was first revealed in the Rose Bowl when Terrelle Pryor did something of a reprisal of the latter days of Troy Smith, and fans should be heartened to see the efficiency with which Pryor operated the offense for a long stretch in the first half against Ohio.

The Buckeyes went away from their pound, pound throw over the top attack from the Miami game and instead stretched the field horizontally to attack the Bobcats, who loaded the box against two-back sets, inviting them to do just that.

Pryor looked comfortable as he spread the ball to seven different teammates. He hit every eligible receiver in the starting lineup at least once, including both co-starters at tailback, the top three receivers on the depth chart, the tight end and the fullback.

He reacted quickly and successfully with free blitzers in his face on more than one occasion and made the Bobcats pay for taking chances.

Pryor will never be Drew Brees, able to hit a particular window on a receiver whenever he wants to, but if he can find the open man and give him a catchable ball, that's going to take this offense a long way.

Yes, he made a couple of head-scratching throws late in the second quarter that he said ruined his day, but those things are going to happen to just about everyone.

Protecting the ball and giving teammates chances to make big plays down the field is a delicate balance. It's the most important job a quarterback has, especially in an offense such as the one Pryor is running.

Some offenses ask the quarterback to do little more handoff and throw deep, a role Pryor played pretty well as a freshman.

Others utilize quick, easy throws to methodically move down the field.

Depending on the opponent and the personnel, Jim Tressel wants his team to be able to do both.

Striving for that ideal has led to more than a couple of ugly episodes over the previous three seasons, but it seems to be paying off now.

What we can expect to learn this week: If the Buckeyes can overpower someone when they feel like it.

This is not something that is as easily done as said any more, but it will be interesting to see how Ohio State goes about dealing with offensive coordinator Jim Bollman's stated concern about the state of the running game.

Although I disagree with the notion Pryor is Ohio State's best runner, the quarterback has so far been the team's most consistent rusher.

That's mostly because a lot of his runs have come either on scrambles when the defense is geared to stop the pass or through the option when the defense is stretched thin by formation and the offense can take advantage of the numbers advantage presented by direct-snap running.

But to achieve the balance they desire, the Ohio State coaches want to be able to line up and run the ball from the I formation or one of its cousins, too.

Being able to do so not only allows them to move the ball on the ground without exposing their most important player to too many hits, it also presents another way to stretch the defense, either vertically or from inside out with play action.

Ohio, like just about every team will, frequently committed an extra defender to the box to help against the run when it sees power personnel, but Bollman said that was no excuse for the struggles to make room for the tailbacks to run.

What is the answer? Probably just playing better. The Buckeyes missed a few blocks here and there, and running opportunities were somewhat limited based on how much they threw.

The situation is far from a crisis, but it bears watching nonetheless.

All-Buckeye Beaters Nominations: As far as naming the best Bobcats goes, no, we're not going to tab Rufus the Ohio mascot, but there were a couple of standouts.

Safety Donovan Fletcher led the team in tackles with nine and nabbed both of Pryor's interceptions while linebacker Eric Benjamin added eight stops and was a pest on the blitz as well.

Defensive lineman Carl Jones made six tackles, including a pair of sacks, so he will get consideration for out postseason awards as well.

DVR Directions: Since Ohio State starts (inexplicably) at 3:30 EDT against the lowly Eagles, fans with the proper cable package can scout just about any Big Ten team they'd like in the early window of games. Wisconsin, Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan State and Purdue all play non-BCS foes on the Big Ten Network at noon while Michigan will host Bowling Green on ESPN2.

Not much of interest will be going on elsewhere during the Ohio State game, and the Buckeyes' next opponent (Illinois) is off this week, so the best DVR option looks to be Indiana. The Hoosiers, who invade Columbus on Oct. 9, host Akron on Saturday on the Big Ten Network.

Cus Words Big Ten Power Poll (Week 3 ranking)

1. (same) Ohio State
2. (same) Wisconsin
3. (4) Michigan State
4. (3) Iowa
5. (same) Northwestern
6. (same) Michigan
7. (same) Penn State
8. (same) Indiana
9. (same) Purdue
10. (same) Illinois
11. (same) Minnesota

Marcus Hartman is a staff writer for and Buckeye Sports Bulletin. He can be reached for comment, cursing or questions via email at mhartman[at]buckeyesports[dot]com

For more from him, read his blog about Ohio State football and whatever else crosses his mind .

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