Looser Pryor Still Growing

Is Terrelle Pryor being used in the way he was promised when he was being recruited by Ohio State? The question came up Wednesday afternoon, and later a more confident, looser Pryor along with quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano responded to the question. The answer: yes.

The way Ohio State is using Terrelle Pryor in its offense is exactly what was promised when he signed with the university, the quarterback said Wednesday night.

A report on ESPN.com quoted Pryor's high school coach Ray Reitz as saying that Pryor decided on becoming a Buckeye because unlike the other programs recruiting him, they would help develop him into an NFL-caliber quarterback. In other words, OSU would not simply use him as a glorified running back carrying the ball 30 times a game in a more wide-open offense.

Now more than halfway into his sophomore season, those goals have not changed – for Pryor or the coaching staff.

"I came here to be a quarterback," Pryor said. "I love the offense here and it's just going to keep getting better and better here."

In his last outing, Pryor and the Buckeyes struggled for much of the game to establish an offensive rhythm. In a 26-18 loss to unranked Purdue, Pryor personally accounted for four turnovers split evenly among fumbles and interceptions. At times this season, he has looked indecisive at best and like he is struggling to grasp the full concept of the OSU offense.

However, the coaches are not trying to develop Pryor into a complete quarterback at the expense of trying to win games, quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano said.

"We're just asking Terrelle to do what he can do to help us win games, and we'll do our best to make sure that he is ready to be a quarterback at the next level," the coach said. "That's all that we can ask of him and that's all that he can ask of us. He understands that winning is the main thing here and that the more games he wins, it's because he's developing. It's not because of anything else."

As Siciliano pointed out, the coaches do not feel that a quarterback can carry the ball 30 times a game within the Big Ten and survive a full season. Although he finished with a team-high 21 carries against the Boilermakers, Pryor said he only had about 10 called runs. The majority of the carries were either on broken plays or situations where pressure forced him to take off.

The performance added up to Reitz saying that he felt Pryor looked like a robot on his television screen, one who needed to have more freedom to run the football – more of the way, say, Michigan runs things under head coach Rich Rodriguez.

"That's what they do at (Pryor's) high school," Siciliano said of the zone read plays Reitz suggested. "That's what they do at Michigan. It's not exactly what we do. It's part of it. We just don't make a living out of it."

Pryor pointed out that almost every college offense he sees on television runs some form of the zone read play – even the ones that might not be well-suited for it.

"I was watching TV and the slowest quarterback was running the zone read," he said. "I see plenty of teams running it that don't have running quarterbacks."

It is fair to say that a robot would be one of the last items to compare Pryor to while speaking to reporters. After the loss to the Boilermakers, the quarterback said he is feeling looser and more confident in his own shoes – a feeling backed up by his body language and overall demeanor.

"I think I've been so tense and maybe handling things in the wrong way, maybe talking to teammates not the way I should've and not being the leader that I want to be," he said. "I think this week as a leader, I took a step. I'm trying to be that great role model and be the leader I want to be.

"Last week, that opened me up to the world and opened me up to myself and who I am as a person. Maybe it was the best thing that happened to us. Maybe we'll learn from it. I think it's the best thing that happened to us."

That attitude has come at the behest of a number of people in Pryor's life. He cited Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar LeBron James as well as a number of the OSU coaches as people who have helped calm him down this week.

In particular, he cited OSU linebackers coach Luke Fickell as someone who sat him down and explained how difficult it would be to devise a game plan to stop a player with Pryor's natural talents.

Siciliano said the change in Pryor has been evident this week.

"You've got to understand that a kid that comes in there that highly recruited with that high of expectations sometimes the bricks keep piling up on the shoulders and it takes something to get them off," the coach said. "It seems like the bricks are off the shoulders a little bit now and he has been more relaxed."

Now the result of that needs to be more improved play on the field. Last week, Pryor said he felt an offensive explosion could be coming and instead saw the Buckeyes stumble with the ball in their hands for most of the game.

The lessons learned from last week might stick a little better this week.

"The only way that you usually grow is by learning hard lessons," Siciliano said. "That's the only thing that we can grow from, is our mistakes."

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