Yes, Pryor committed two major errors, a third quarter fumble and a final drive interception, that led to the Buckeye defeat, but the freshman also had many great individual moments. Pryor's running ability was totally stymied by Penn State, and they forced him to try to beat them through the air, and the youngster might have pulled it off with more passing attempts.
The hardest thing for a young quarterback to grasp is being able to find open receivers against a blitzing defense on third down. It's why many offensive coaches throw the football on first down, trying to make it easier for a young passer. Ohio State could have helped Pryor out more by having him throw on first down more on Saturday evening.
A look at Pryor's passing statistics show that Ohio State did have Pryor throw the football ten times on first down, but five of those throws came on either the last drive of the half, or the final drive of the night, when Ohio State trailed and was in must-throw situations. Only five times in all of the other Buckeye possessions did Pryor throw on first down, the easiest down on which to throw.
Even though Pryor did throw the football 25 times, it is telling that nine of his attempts also came on the final drives of both halves, or in obvious passing situations. Pryor only threw the football 16 times when Ohio State wasn't behind in the final drives of each half, and that's simply not enough passing attempts, especially against a defense designed to stop the run.
Pryor's most impressive statistic from the Penn State game was averaging nine yards per attempt, a very impressive number in a most important category. The yards per attempt statistic is a good measuring stick for how effective your passing game really is. It's far more telling than just looking at total yards, or completion percentage.
Last Saturday Texas Tech scored 63 points, North Carolina scored 45 points, Oklahoma scored 58 points, BYU scored 42 points, and Georgia scored 52 points. Want to know how many yards per attempt they averaged? Try 9.2, 7.9, 8.0, 7.9, and 9.6, respectively. The point is that Pryor's yards per attempt, combined with the fact that he rarely throws interceptions, points out the need for Ohio State to turn him loose and let him make plays down the field throwing the football.
I understand Pryor's mechanics are far from ideal, he's missed open receivers, and he's not always throwing the ball on time, but what's apparent is that he completes a high percentage of his passes, and he doesn't turn the football over. On a night when your ground game averages two yards per carry, it would seem that letting Pryor throw the football when you want to, not when you need to, would increase the chances for victory.
I know the history of Jim Tressel shows that he brings quarterbacks along very slowly, but it just might be time to show a bit more confidence in "The Kid." Letting Pryor throw the football on early downs, and early in the game, just could be the tonic to open up the running game for Chris "Beanie" Wells. Beanie, in a rare moment of criticism, said the same thing after the Purdue game earlier this season.
To have an offense with this much talent struggling to be ranked higher than 100th in the entire country seems to indicate something isn't quite right. Seeing Ohio State fail to score an offensive touchdown in two games this season would seem to validate the notion that things need to be better on the offensive end.
What is a possible solution to curing the Buckeye offensive woes? It would seem to be letting "The Kid" open things up, and turn him loose. At this point in time nothing else seems to be a better solution.