5 Answers: Michigan at Ohio State

Injuries, quick starts, trickery, Terrelle Pryor and the shotgun sweep were the five areas we concentrated on for this edition of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. Read our evaluation of which way those variables went in this edition of "Five Answers" on BuckeyeSports.com.

1. Can the Michigan get an early lead?

The Wolverines had a golden opportunity to draw first blood after Stevie Brown's interception of Terrelle Pryor gave Michigan possession at the Ohio State 13-yard line, but their ensuing drive could fairly be termed a disaster.

Two plays gained a net of zero yards, then a penalty for false start cost the Wolverines five. After Nick Sheridan threw an incomplete pass on third down, K.C. Lopata missed a 35-yard field goal.

"The missed opportunities are a big thing we've dealt with all year," Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez said. "We had great field position in the beginning of the game, but we are not good enough to win ball games without taking advantage of those opportunities."


2. Have the Buckeyes figured out how to stop the shotgun sweep?

For a second week in a row, the answer to this question was, "Not really."

Fortunately for Ohio State, the opponent went away from the play even though it was the only thing the Wolverines seemed able to do to gain consistent yardage.

Brandon Minor made hay with the play on the Wolverines' only scoring drive, which included a 32-yard run to the OSU 1. Minor scored four plays later.

Michigan was again moving the ball with the shotgun sweep in the third quarter, both with Minor and Michael Shaw, but abandoned it after reaching Ohio State territory.


3. Which key players will be out?

As expected, Michigan tackle Steve Schilling and quarterback Stephen Threet did not play.

The Wolverines did have the services of Minor, who missed the Northwestern game one week earlier, and the junior turned out to be Michigan's best player on the offensive side of the ball as he ran for 67 yards on 14 carries and scored the only Michigan touchdown.

For Ohio State, nickel back Jermale Hines did not play, but Tyler Moeller proved to be a capable backup for a second week in a row. Moeller was in on three tackles, including 0.5 for loss, and received praise from his teammates.

"I don't think anyone wants to go against Tyler," safety Kurt Coleman said. "He will hit you hard. That's his style of play. If you run his way, he's going to try and knock you down. I think that kind of plays into his capabilities."

Linebacker Marcus Freeman and defensive end Thaddeus Gibson both played extensively despite having been limited in recent weeks because of injuries.

Freeman had seven tackles, including 2.5 for loss, recovered a fumble and broke up a pass, while Gibson had two stops, one of which was in the backfield.

Chris Wells ran for 134 yards and a touchdown before aggravating an hamstring injury he suffered one week earlier at Illinois. He had two of the biggest plays of the game: a 59-yard touchdown run that started the scoring and a 42-yard burst in the third quarter that set up Boom Herron's 49-yard touchdown run that seemed to break the backs of the Wolverines.


4. Can Terrelle Pryor play within himself and make big plays?

Pryor looked like a freshman in the first half.

Brown's interception was the result of a bad decision by the young Buckeye, and Pryor later took three sacks that were probably avoidable and made other poor throws.

He admitted that the emotion of the game affected him early.

"You're so hyped up and expected to be perfect in this game and to make some big plays, so it takes you back to your first start of the first game of the season," he said.

In the first half he had a 53-yard touchdown to Brian Hartline that was nearly a perfect throw, but overall he completed just 3 of 8 passes for 77 yards with the interception.

"The play that we threw for the interception was clear over on the other side of the field, so I really don't know what happened there, but that's not the greatest way to start your first Michigan game," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "But he said that will never happen again, and I didn't want to tell him that if it did..., so I just left it at that," the coach added with a grin. "But, I thought he handled things well."

The rest of the offense picked Pryor up, however, and he finished 5 for 13 through the air for 120 yards. He netted minus-7 yards rushing on eight attempts.


5. Will trickery play any part in determining a winner?

Not much fancy went on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

Even if there were more shotgun snaps than usual, this OSU-Michigan game came down to which team hit hardest and held its own in the trenches.

The closest Ohio State came to trying to trick the Wolverines was the use of different formations to keep them off balance.

"I think really we changed formations and took them out of some of the stuff they started the game with," OSU offensive lineman Steve Rehring said. "We changed up the playcalling a little bit but not much. Really, it was execution."

Michigan hit the Buckeyes for a 21-yard pass play to Martavious Odoms in the second quarter after quarterback Nick Sheridan faked a throw to Minor in the flats then went down field.


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