Maybe Two Quarterbacks For OSU, Maybe Not

Will Ohio State use Terrelle Pryor and Todd Boeckman at the same time in the Fiesta Bowl against Texas? Get the roundabout answer to that question along with what OSU expects to see from the Longhorns. Beanie Wells also talks about his future.

There was a lot made over the supposed leak from Ohio State bowl practice that head coach Jim Tressel planned to use both quarterback Terrelle Pryor and Todd Boeckman at the same time against Texas.

From what some of the Buckeyes had to say on New Year's Day, perhaps that was a ruse to give the Longhorns something extra to worry about. And perhaps it wasn't.

While OSU tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells termed the Pryor-Boeckman tandem "a joke," senior co-captain Brian Robiskie was adamant that there would be at least "a play or two where there will be two quarterbacks in the game."

Wells allowed that Robiskie was correct but also seemed to think the scenario was overblown.

"I think there may be a play or two," Wells said, "but I don't think it will be to that extreme where they will both be out there the whole game. It's more of a joke to a lot of the other guys seeing (Pryor and Boeckman) out there together. It's something fun."

Senior fullback Brandon Smith was a little less forthcoming about what was happening at the quarterback position during practice drills.

"He could be," Smith said when asked if Boeckman would be in the Fiesta Bowl lineup alongside Pryor. "Todd's an athlete, too. We'll see what happens. We strive to put our best 11 (players) on the field. When those two get out there, there are going to be some things we can do and I'm not sure Texas will be prepared for that. Hopefully, it will be an advantage.

"Who the quarterback is will all depend on the look or the play – one or the other. I guess that's the best I can do for you."

The Buckeyes have, of course, used Pryor and Boeckman in the same game this season. In fact, both quarterbacks saw action in seven of the team's 12 contests. But there was only one – the USC game – in which each saw a similar number of plays under center, and at no time during the season did the senior co-captain and freshman phenom ever appear on the field at the same time.

"Obviously with some time off, the coaches have a lot more time to scheme some things up," Robiskie said. "So they are going to come up with some stuff."

One thing is for sure, though. You'll see none of the so-called Wildcat formations with Wells taking direct snaps from center.

"I have no desire to do that," Wells said with a smile. "Besides, I can't throw it more than 20 yards."

BUCKEYES KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT

Texas head coach Mack Brown has remained coy about his game plan for Monday's Fiesta Bowl showdown with Ohio State.

The Buckeyes, on the other hand, are convinced about what they will see from the Longhorns – Colt McCoy throwing the ball … a lot.

"You definitely see pass first," said OSU cornerback Malcolm Jenkins. "That's what stands out – how they get the ball around through the air. But the second thing that stands out to me is how patient Colt is. He is not always looking to run first. Once nothing is there, he can move around in the pocket.

"Things start to open up when guys have to cover for more than five seconds. Hopefully, we can get our D-line to not let him run around too often."

Not many defensive lines were able to corral McCoy this season. The 6-3, 210-pound junior ran for 576 yards on 128 carries – both team-high totals – while leading Texas to an 11-1 record and within a whisker of playing for the national championship.

But what really sets McCoy apart is his pinpoint passing. He completed an amazing 77.6 percent of his passes this season (291 for 375) for 3,445 yards and 42 touchdowns against only seven interceptions.

Twenty-three of his pass completions went for 30 or more yards this year, but what has the Buckeyes especially concerned is the way McCoy works with intermediate receivers. For example, tailback Chris Ogbonnaya carried the ball only 63 times all year, yet totaled 42 receptions on a variety of shovel passes, screens and hot reads. Ogbonnaya averaged 11.5 yards per catch and had three touchdowns, including a 65-yarder against Colorado.

"McCoy is extremely good," Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Heacock said. "He's accurate, the ball is on target – plus there is great chemistry between him and his receivers. They know what he's doing.

"Sometimes you see where they are going against great coverage but he'll throw the ball and put it where the defender can't get it. Then the receivers do a great job of going up and getting the ball. The other thing is that he dishes it to everybody. It doesn't do you any good to double-team one of their receivers."

The statistics of McCoy's two favorite receivers is a perfect example of the way the UT quarterback distributes the ball. Senior Jordan Shipley, who also happens to be McCoy's roommate, led the team with 79 receptions while classmate Quan Cosby had 78. Shipley had 982 yards, Cosby had 952. Shipley gathered in 11 touchdown passes to eight scores for Cosby.

All told, that's a lot of production from just two guys – 157 catches, 1,934 yards and 19 touchdowns.

"A lot of quarterbacks only have the one guy they can go to," McCoy said. "I've been blessed to have both Jordan and Quan. I know they're going to run sharp, crisp routes and they know how much we need to get on third-and-7. That type of relationship out there on the field makes things a lot easier."

Still, there have been plenty of times this season when McCoy's first two options are covered and there is no time to look for a third possibility.

"That's when our D-line has to keep him in there," Jenkins said.

And if McCoy gets loose?

"It stresses us out," Jenkins replied. "A lot."

FIESTA BOWL NUGGETS

** Wells believes he would have won this year's Heisman Trophy had he not sustained a toe injury in the season opener against Youngstown State that caused him to miss three games.

"If I wasn't injured, I would like to say that trophy was mine," he said. "Not to take anything away from those guys that were there because they were all great quarterbacks and great players. Me being the type of guy I am, I feel like I'm the best. I think I would have been there."

Despite missing three games, and running at less than 100 percent health most of the season, Wells still managed to rush for 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns. His average of 121.2 yards per game ranked seventh in the nation.

** Wells didn't budge when asked about his plans for next season, answering a question about returning to Ohio State for his senior year with a philosophical approach.

"We're not thinking about the future too much," he said. "Live day by day and enjoy being in college."

Most observers believe Wells will forgo his final season of college eligibility and make himself available for April's NFL draft, where he is expected to be a first-round selection. Later, however, he did admit that taking some time before making a final decision.

"You only get this time once in your life," Wells said, "and once you leave college, you're never ever going to get back. Me personally, I love college. I'm enjoying it to the best of my ability."

** Ohio State is staying at the same hotel, practicing at the same high school facility and wearing the same white jerseys as it did for its last trip to the Arizona desert, the 41-14 blowout loss to Florida in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game.

There are some things that are different, however.

"There was some difference back in Columbus – the physicality of the practices was different," said senior tight end Rory Nicol. "It is kind of a message we are trying to send. It was clear that we felt we had to do something different (from last time)."

And have the more physical practice sessions been having their desired effect?

"I think the focus has been good," Nicol said. "I have a good feeling about the way everybody has been performing."


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