Tressel, Buckeyes Sticking With Pryor

As things steadily got worse during Ohio State's loss to Purdue last weekend, the discussion began as to whether or not Terrelle Pryor should give way to backup Joe Bauserman for at least a series. On Tuesday, head coach Jim Tressel and a few players for the Buckeyes expressed support for their embattled quarterback.

When the final whistle blew in a decisive USC victory against Ohio State last season, senior quarterback Todd Boeckman's career was essentially finished.

In a 35-3 loss to the Trojans, Boeckman had tossed two crippling interceptions and lost one fumble while helping contribute to the blowout. One week later, he was replaced in the starting lineup by true freshman Terrelle Pryor, who went on to lead the Big Ten in passing efficiency while running a run-based offense.

More than one year later, however, Pryor is running into his own problems but is retaining the full support of head coach Jim Tressel as well as his teammates. In a 26-18 road loss Saturday to an unranked Purdue team, Pryor was personally responsible for four turnovers split evenly between interceptions and fumbles.

Unlike the Boeckman situation of a year ago, however, Tressel said he never contemplated pulling the sophomore and replacing him with seldom-used backup Joe Bauserman.

"I'm not sure that they're comparable (situations) at all," the coach said at his weekly press luncheon. "They don't feel to me as being similar situations."

In Tressel's eyes, deciding to bring in Bauserman for even a series to let Pryor rest his head would not have been in the best interests of the team on either a short- or long-term basis. In addition, no discussions have taken place regarding finding a role for Bauserman during games.

As a result, the coach said he remains committed to the embattled sophomore quarterback as the head of his team in part because of what he sees out of him in practice.

"What is it that we see that maybe someone else doesn't? We get to see him every day, so I guess my answer would be a lot," Tressel said. "Are we committed to Terrelle? Yeah, just like we're committed to … whomever to do whatever it is we think is the best thing for the team."

Although neither Pryor nor Bauserman were made available for interviews Tuesday, a number of their teammates said they supported Tressel's decision.

"In that situation when you're down, you're away from home, to sit him for a series probably would've made the problem worse," junior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said. "Everybody was frustrated already, and then to throw a curveball in there like that, I don't think that would help."

After three ineffective quarters against the Boilermakers, Pryor did somewhat right the ship in the fourth quarter and led a comeback attempt that fell short. The Buckeyes had put up 110 yards of offense heading into the final quarter and trailed 23-7 but accumulated 177 yards and 11 points in the final 15 minutes.

It was obviously not enough, however, and the result has been plenty of speculation about Pryor's future. One week prior, quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano refuted a rumor that the sophomore could be headed to wide receiver to better take advantage of his 6-6, 235-pound frame.

During the weeks of practice, Tressel said he has not seen anything from Pryor that would lead him to believe he would turn the ball over as much as he did against Purdue.

"He hasn't been perfect in practice, but he's come along in practice," the coach said. "He hasn't been perfect in games, but he's come along in games. Now, did we have three or four moments that were impactful, there's no question about it. Did any of those things rear up in practice that gave you the exact same scenario? Not really."

This season, Pryor has thrown eight interceptions and fumbled the ball away three times. His passing efficiency rating of 128.43 marks a decrease of nearly 18 points from last year's total of 146.0 and is good for 63rd-best in the country and ninth-best in the Big Ten.

He fumbled the ball away just once last year, and it led to the game-winning touchdown Oct. 25 for Penn State in a tight night game at Ohio Stadium.

Tressel said he does not feel that sitting Pryor down for a series is a necessary step toward getting him to take better care of the football. The coach who preaches maintaining possession of the ball more than anything said he has only done that to one quarterback in his 24 years as a head coach.

"I don't think that's what Terrelle needs," he said. "No one has a disdain for turnovers any more than Terrelle."

Sophomore wide receiver DeVier Posey said his confidence in Pryor stems from when the two were being recruited for the team's 2008 class.

"I believe in the kid," Posey said. "Back when we were being recruited, I was the first guy to contact him and I said, ‘I want to play with you, man. I want to be your receiver.' I believe in that kid and I love him."

It is a message Posey said he relayed to Pryor this week because he feels expectations for the quarterback have bordered on unreachable since his arrival in Columbus. At the same time, Posey admitted that things have not gone according to plan as of late.

"I think that's really hard for a guy like that," Posey said. "There's only one Tim Tebow in this world and I don't really know what people want from (Pryor) but he's going to get better. He really can't do much worse. The only thing for him to do is get better and I feel like he will."

At the very least, Pryor can rest assured that he apparently has a longer leash than the one extended to Boeckman a season ago. In fact, Tressel was asked how long Pryor's leash will stretch.

"I think a good easy answer to that is as long as we think he's the best guy doing the job for the team that gives the team the best chance to be successful," Tressel said. "So it's as long or as short as one would want to make it."


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