Jard Work: Pryor's Big Plans

We are winding down the 2010 season and Ohio State heads to Iowa this weekend for a chance to stay alive in the Big Ten title race. In his weekly column, BuckeyeSports.com staff writer Adam Jardy offers his take on what could be in store for Terrelle Pryor this weekend as well as updates on a few other players.

So what is it that has Terrelle Pryor so excited?

Wednesday, I asked the junior quarterback if he felt Ohio State would go to Iowa with hopes of throwing the ball a lot. Pryor's most prolific passing contest in a true road game came when he threw for 222 yards at Minnesota this season, and his previous best was 221 yards in the debacle last season at Purdue.

For his career, Pryor has averaged 139.9 passing yards per true road game. For his career he has averaged 153.9 per game, but the past two seasons have seen him average 183.9 passing yards per contest.

Looking at this weekend, the quarterback said he was energized by what the coaches have in store for the Hawkeyes.

"The game plan we have this week is one of my favorites since I've been here," he said. "I really like it."

More than the Rose Bowl?

"Yeah, more," he said. "It's my favorite once since I've been here, I'll tell you that."

Seated in a plush, gray chair outside the interview room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, offensive coordinator Jim Bollman was asked about Pryor's comments.

"If he told you that, that's good," Bollman said. "I'm glad he's fired up about it. It's the same kind of deal: I'm not going to tell you guys the game plan. I'm not going to tell you anything about the game plan. I'm not going to tell you if it's any more pass or any less pass or anything about the game plan, but I'm glad he's fired up about it."

Head coach Jim Tressel also cracked a joke the following day, saying that the coaches are still striving to get better much like the players. But as I pondered why Pryor might be excited about the plan, I thought back to an interview with him from a few weeks ago.

One reporter asked Pryor what kind of plays he would call if he had full control over the playbook. His response was that he would like to find more ways to get the ball to key playmakers in space, naming guys such as Dan Herron, Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry. You can read the story here.

At the time, he also mentioned the zone read type of plays that we saw with Pryor and Chris Wells in the same backfield two seasons ago. Prodded a bit, Pryor added this week that "We have some more runs for me this week."

So while the head men are understandably mum on what OSU might try to do this weekend, consider that an educated guess.

Injury Updates: Although the Buckeyes will not miraculously receive any last-minute additions to the travel roster this weekend, there was positive news for two players dealing with foot issues.

First up, junior right tackle J.B. Shugarts has battled an injury to his foot all season long that has forced him from the lineup in a number of games. According to Bollman, the open week did him a world of good.

"The off week really helped him a lot," he said. "Last week was the first week he was able to really do all of our exchange stuff the entire week and he made it through the game until we pulled all the regular guys. That's the first game he's been able to do that. That was really good to see and very helpful."

On the other side of the football, freshman defensive back Christian Bryant might be making a quicker return to action than previously anticipated. After being hospitalized for an infection in his foot that required surgery, Bryant was listed as questionable for a return in time for OSU's bowl game by Tressel.

However, Bryant tweeted earlier this week that he had returned to practice. Wednesday night, safeties coach Paul Haynes said there is a chance he could be back in uniform in time for next week's regular-season finale against Michigan.

"There's a chance of him getting back by next week," he said. "Bowl game, we'll see based on his progression. I think he's doing a little bit more each week. It would be good to get him back next week."

The Elder Statesman: At the tail end of Tyler Moeller's impromptu press conference Wednesday evening, I asked him what he felt fans would remember him for. After all, a career that spans six years and overcomes a number of serous injuries is not short for storylines.

Here was his response: "That I was here for a long time, probably. Hopefully they'll see me as a good player. That's the biggest thing coming back this year was I wanted to show people what I can do. I'm going to go next year and show people what I really can do.

"I hope they look back and think I was a good player, I guess."

New Alignment: When the Buckeyes hosted Penn State last weekend, they deployed a different defensive formation. Although schematically it remained the team's nickel defense, a few faces were in different positions.

Rather than bring senior Aaron Gant in at safety and slide Jermale Hines to star for obvious passing situations, the Buckeyes inserted sophomore cornerback Travis Howard and shifted senior Chimdi Chekwa to the star position.

In all, OSU used the alignment for five plays but it allowed Howard to intercept a pass and return it 30 yards for a score.

"It's just like everything else, when it happens the first time he wants to do it some more," Haynes said. "When things like that happen, you get hungry to make more and more. I'm sure his confidence level is high."

Haynes also credited sophomore safety Orhian Johnson for making plays that often go unnoticed.

"The (open) week was good for him," he said. "I challenged him during that week to continue to get better. People who have come out to practice have noticed him because he's doing the little things right, planting and driving and doing those things to get himself better. He's on the right track.

"Some of the stuff you don't see unless the kid makes an interception but percentage-wise and things like that, he is playing very well for us."

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