Thoughts To Bank On: Minnesota

The Ohio State win over Minnesota was more than the usual 38-7 blowout victory. It was important for Terrelle Pryor to answer his critics in a big way, and the sophomore certainly did that. Bill Greene has more in his feature: "Thoughts To Bank On."

Ohio State cruised to an easy 38-7 win over Minnesota last Saturday in Columbus. There were several outstanding performers for the Buckeyes in the victory.

QUARTERBACK: Terrelle Pryor lived through his toughest week as a Buckeye, and answered his critics by playing his best game ever. If you're waiting for Pryor to turn into Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, you will be disappointed because it will never happen. They do things he cannot do on the field, but Pryor can change football games outside the pocket. He will never be fundamentally sound, nor will he ever be a highly accurate passer, and he will always throw the football with an unorthodox motion. But wrapped around all those flaws is a quarterback that can do more things to win a game than any quarterback in Ohio State history not named Troy Smith. Against Minnesota Pryor threw for 239 yards, on only 13 completions, including two bombs to Devier Posey, both covering over 50 yards. He was the Buckeyes leading rusher with 104 yards. Pryor isn't an efficient game-manager at quarterback, rather he is the ultimate playmaker. Against Minnesota he made big plays, and lots of them, to dominate the football game. This is how he plays, and it should only get better as he plays more games. There might still be bumps in the road, but by next year he will be a legitimate Heisman award candidate. GRADE: B+.

RUNNING BACKS: This was the Jermil Martin show, as the youngster from Cleveland Glenville exploded onto the scene with 75 yards rushing, including a 39-yard touchdown run. Martin should have earned more playing time with his effort against Minnesota. He looks like a sure thing in short yardage and on the goal line, and his performance should speed up the recovery time for Dan Herron and Brandon Saine. I could not have been more impressed by Jermil Martin. Jordan Hall and Saine were above average, but both were overshadowed by Martin's performance. GRADE: A.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Hello, Devier Posey. Posey had a breakout game with 161 yards and two touchdowns, and it could have more had he been able to come down with a few other opportunities. This was the wide receiver the Buckeye staff has been waiting on all year, and he should be able to build on this game. Dane Sanzenbacher continues to be the most reliable threat in the passing game. If defenses start to roll coverages toward Posey it will create more opportunities for Sanzenbacher. It would be nice to see more players getting the football, which would open the passing game up even more. GRADE: B+

OFFENSIVE LINE: Another injury forced yet another different lineup for the Buckeyes, as this time it was Mike Adams out for the Minnesota game. Andy Miller and Jim Cordle stepped in and both played well in the win. Ohio State was solid up the middle as Michael Brewster, Justin Boren and Bryant Browning rebounded from a poor showing last week at Purdue. The biggest improvement came from the most talented lineman on the roster: J.B. Shugarts. Shugarts has been good in the run game all year, and he had his best game in pass protection last Saturday. Shugarts has a chance to end up being one of the best offensive linemen in the Jim Tressel era if he continues to improve. Overall, it was a strong showing for this group in every area. GRADE: B+

DEFENSIVE LINE: Was this the game that Nathan Williams takes a defensive end spot and forces Cameron Heyward inside permanently? Williams continues to get better week after week, and it's now gotten to the point where he needs to be on the field more. Williams was thought to be a situational pass rusher, but his play against the run has been excellent. This group is among the best in the country and it's a better unit with Williams out there. Thadeus Gibson was tremendous against the Gophers, and they couldn't stop him at all. Doug Worthington was his usual strong, silent, effective self, as he continues to play at an All Big-Ten level. John Simon has also forced his way into the rotation and he played a great game as well. GRADE: B+

LINEBACKERS: There are no superstars in this group, but there are three excellent football players on the field. Brian Rolle and Ross Homan were all over the field, making the majority of the tackles and rarely missing. Austin Spitler is another solid player who added an interception. Storm Klein made the most of his playing time, and showed the speed and instincts that will make him a star some day. Andrew Sweat did not dress and will be out for a while with an undisclosed injury. GRADE: A

DEFENSIVE BACKS: This group was thought to possibly be the team's weakest link in 2009. That line of thinking has been proven to be incorrect. It's hard to ask much more from the secondary than what they've given the Buckeyes so far. Ohio State played five people for the most part, and all of them were excellent. Anderson Russell has rebounded from losing his starting spot after the opening game, to becoming one of the steadier players in the secondary. Russell is a testament to not letting a setback ruin your season, and is a key member of the Ohio State "nickel" package. Jermale Hines and Kurt Coleman were all over the field, stopping the running game and blanketing receivers. Chimdi Chekwa played as good a game as he has all year, and Devon Torrence continues to play at a high level. GRADE: A

SPECIAL TEAMS: It's officially time to worry about the field goal kicking. Aaron Pettrey continues to miss easy, chip-shot field goals. At some point, that could end up costing the Buckeyes a football game. Might we see Ben Buchanan get a shot next week against New Mexico State? GRADE: C

COACHING: As usual, the offense gets most of the attention in evaluating the coaching staff against Minnesota. Things were good for the most part, as the Buckeyes showed a varied attack and gained 509 yards. Defensive coordinator Jim Heacock totally shut down Minnesota, and would have earned his third shutout had he not substituted liberally in the fourth quarter. Jim Tressel deserves some credit for getting this team to play at a high level following last week's disappointing loss to Purdue. GRADE: A

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