COLUMBUS, Ohio – Heavy rains forced the Buckeyes indoors Friday for their last practice before Saturday’s jersey scrimmage at Ohio Stadium, which is closed to the public.
For those unfamiliar, the winner of the jersey scrimmage between the offense and defense earns the right to wear the scarlet jerseys for the rest of spring practice and into fall camp before the next jersey scrimmage in August. Presently, the defense is donning the scarlet, though some of the offensive players this week have indicated they’re determined to win them back. Check out OhioStateBuckeyes.com Saturday to find out which unit came out victorious.
After practice today, quarterbacks and tight ends stopped and met with reporters. To no surprise, junior Terrelle Pryor received most of the attention.
Pryor is coming off his best performance to date in leading Ohio State to a 26-17 win over Oregon in the Rose Bowl and taking home game MVP honors. Pryor, 19-3 in his career as a starter, passed for a career-high 266 yards and two touchdowns in that game and ran for 72, setting an Ohio State bowl game record with 338 yards of total offense. In all, he passed for 2,094 yards, piled up 779 yards on the ground and accounted for 25 of Ohio State’s 39 offensive touchdowns last season.
His Rose Bowl performance on the national stage has created a positive buzz this offseason and has all of Buckeye nation wondering if that game was a sign of what to expect in 2010.
“I think anytime you have a good performance in any atmosphere, whether it’s the Rose Bowl or the Michigan game, it builds confidence,” quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano said. “I think he’s looking for some more good things this year and hopefully he’ll progress at the same rate.
“Terrelle is doing well overall. We’re happy with his progress. He’s working hard every day and coming out here and doing some good things.”
Also on hand after practice was sophomore tight end Jake Stoneburner, who has looked solid this spring as he prepares to take over for the departed Jake Ballard. The Dublin Coffman native has made several nice catches these first couple weeks, displaying excellent hands and snagging bullets over the middle – some of them coming in traffic around two or three defenders.
“Time will tell (what Jake can do this season),” tight ends coach John Peterson said. “He’s learning and he’s transitioned from outside of the box to inside of the box. He’s improving his skills as a blocker and taking his receiver skills and implementing them into the tight end role.”
Tight ends caught only 15 passes last season and 11 the year before, but all signs indicate those numbers may be on the rise this season.
Entering his third year as a starter, Pryor has gained a solid command of the offense, according to his teammates and coaches. And with opposing defenses focusing in on shutting down returning wideouts Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey, it should open up opportunities down the middle for Stoneburner and the tight ends.
“I think (the tight end not being utilized as much) had to do with a lot,” Stoneburner said. “Terrelle was young, obviously, and maybe we just didn’t call a lot of those plays down the seam or whatever to help keep it simple. But I definitely think we’ll see more of that this season. I think Terrelle is looking more to get me the ball because he trusts me.
“(Terrelle) has gotten a lot smarter as a quarterback,” Stoneburner said. “He’s not locking down on one target and he’s making all of his reads. He’s throwing the ball away if we’re not open and not forcing too many throws. He’s much more accurate and his arm strength and his deep ball are a lot better.”
Click the audio links above more more interviews from Friday’s practice.