Pryor Still Seeking 'Quantum Leap'

With sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor holding the reins, Ohio State fans have been expecting big things from the Buckeye offense this season. Two games in, however, Pryor's coaches admit that the nation's former No. 1 recruit remains a work in progress.

After watching the USC game film, Ohio State quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano has a message for Buckeye fans: Terrelle Pryor is not there yet.

"There's nobody who can tell you their sophomore year, they understood it all," Siciliano said.

Heading into the season, Pryor was pegged as one of the brightest prospects in all of college football. Head coach Jim Tressel described his progress from last year as being like a quantum leap and has said he looks ten times better than he did a year ago, and he was being listed as a dark horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy.

Two games into the year, however, the product on the field is struggling to match up with the preseason words of praise. Siciliano said the coaches are seeing improvement from their star quarterback but added that he remains a work in progress.

"I think right now we're through two games and unfortunately one of those was USC and frankly they're pretty darn good," he said. "From a defensive standpoint they do some things to put some extra pressure on you and it would not shock me if we bounce back and Terrelle bounced back and kept climbing up the mountain each week. I wouldn't count him out by any stretch of the imagination."

Against the Trojans, Pryor completed 11 of 25 passes for 177 yards and one interception and rushed for 36 yards on 10 carries, often looking hesitant with the ball in his hands.

The tape showed a quarterback still finding his way, Siciliano said.

"He didn't do everything good, but there were a lot of good things from that tape that we were able to see," said Siciliano, in his first season as the official position coach. "He did make a number of good throws. He did a number of things that helped. He was able to step up a couple of times and make some key runs. That all helps. He didn't do as good as he can do, but he is progressing and that's all we can ask for on a day-to-day basis."

As a true freshman, Pryor led the Big Ten in passing efficiency of 146.50. This season, he currently sits last in the conference and 79th in the country at 116.92 – nearly 45 full points behind Michigan's true freshman Tate Forcier at 161.69, a total good enough for 21st-best in the nation.

The Buckeyes as a whole sit next-to-last in the Big Ten in pass offense with an average of 193.5 yards per game. That figure is actually an improvement on last season, when OSU's average of 150.2 passing yards per game against placed them 10th in the conference.

The difference this year is that the Buckeyes have the preseason offensive player of the year in Pryor now in essentially his second year as a starter. Siciliano was quick to point out that the offense has plenty of young faces in key positions.

"We've got some young skilled guys that as they get a little bit older and a little bit better are pretty darn good," he said. "We've got some special guys when they can get their hands on the ball, and that's the whole key."

Earlier in the week, Tressel drew a parallel between Pryor and two other successful dual-threat quarterbacks.

"Not that it has any relevance, but keep in mind that at this stage Troy Smith was a kickoff returner and at this stage, Vince Young was getting spot duty going in when things were pretty good with a couple little things to do," Tressel said. "At this stage you were lined up against a very good defense with a very young offense and it was tough sledding out there, but we have to grow from it."

His growing process has not had an adverse effect ton the team's chances to win, Siciliano said.

Pryor has not been made available for interviews since immediately following the USC game, but a number of his teammates said Pryor has continued to assert himself as a leader despite the loss to the Trojans and the plight of the offense as a whole.

"He was a freshman last year and young and now he has a year of experience under his belt," sophomore running back Dan Herron said. "Everything isn't going to go the way you want it to. You have to move on and do the next play right. He's definitely grown with that."

As Siciliano and Tressel both pointed out, it is not all doom and gloom for Pryor. The sophomore has shown better touch on some of his passes and has shown that he is trying to grow as a pocket passer and not just a runner.

The question is how long it will take Pryor to break out and play like the quarterback everyone has expected him to be since he selected the Buckeyes. Siciliano said Pryor will be there when the game begins to slow down for him.

When that will be remains elusive.

"I don't know if it is or if it isn't (slowing down for Pryor)," Siciliano said. "That would be unfair for me to say, but he's working at it and there is a great deal of improvement from where we were last year at the end of the year to where we are now.

"I think his ultimate goal is to be a finished product when he leaves here. He knows he's not going to be here and be a Dan Marino right now, but he wants to work towards that."

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