EAST LANSING, MICH.,-- After a week of hearing all about his deficiencies as a quarterback, Terrelle Pryor was frustrated. Before he lashed out at Michigan State, though, he conjured up a personal challenge.
Head coach Jim Tressel shared the details after Pryor wrecked the Michigan State defense for 188 total yards and a pair of touchdowns during the 12th-ranked Buckeyes' 45-7 whipping of the 20th-ranked Spartans.
"Terrelle is a competitive guy. When he looks at the film and doesn't like it, he questions himself, and boy, he doesn't like that and he's going to go back to work. And then if someone else says, ‘You're not doing as well as you could,' that fuels the fire a little bit," Tressel said. "In fact he stopped in my office right before we left Friday, and he said, ‘If I don't move the ball down the field, you should bench me.' That's just the way he is. I said, ‘Just relax now. If you throw it to them, don't worry. You won't have to make that request.' But he's a competitive guy. That's just the way he is."
As it turned out, Pryor did not throw any passes to the other team. He only occasionally threw it to anybody (7 completions on 11 attempts), but his legs proved deadly enough, especially early in the game. After that, his teammates took over to create the rout.
Pryor scored Ohio State's first touchdown on an 18-yard bootleg around left end in which he simply left Spartan cornerback Ross Weaver grasping air after the Spartan had him in his sights near the line of scrimmage.
On third-and-goal from the 7-yard line on the next drive, he ran a bootleg the other way, avoided a defender and found Brian Robiskie all alone in the back of the end zone to put the Buckeyes ahead by two touchdowns.
Pryor really put the home team on the ropes the next time he touched the ball when, despite a heavy rush that would leave him picking himself up off the ground when the play was over, he completed a 56-yard pass to Brian Hartline.
That set up Chris "Beanie" Wells' 1-yard touchdown plunge, and Ohio State had a commanding 21-point lead before the end of the first quarter.
At that point, Pryor had 62 yards rushing and a score to show for his four carries and he was 5 for 5 through the air for another 86 yards and a touchdown.
So much for being benched, no matter whose idea that might have been.
"I was dead serious about that," Pryor said. "If I don't move the ball in the first quarter, I was like, ‘You better sit me down and put Todd (Boeckman) in because Todd will do it.'
"(Tressel) looked me right in my eye and said, ‘TP, I believe in you. You'll do fine. Just don't turn the ball over. I'll come out there if you do.'"
After a high school career when he was next to unstoppable, Pryor is not likely used to hearing criticism of his play, but he never shies from a challenge if it comes from a source he deems acceptable.
"I needed that challenge because if I don't do great then I'll be sitting down," Pryor said. "Todd's a great quarterback, too. He can move the ball. I just challenged myself that if I don't move the ball, I'm sitting down."
He says he does not have much use for outside opinion, though.
"I don't listen to it because people don't know me," he said. "People don't know what I can do. People don't know me. That's all I've got to say. No one knows what I can do. Everything thinks they can say I'm overrated and all that. Just wait and see. The time will come and you'll find out."