After last year’s aerial explosion in the Rose Bowl, many fans and writers alike seem to believe that Terrelle Pryor’s coming out party will result in a “shock and awe” campaign this year of five wide-outs and one-back sets.
While Pryor certainly had arguably his best game as a Buckeye, there are a few reasons to believe that this season might best resemble a calculated, efficient operation rather than a blitzkrieg.
Reason No. 1: A Stable of Running Backs
It is not a stretch to state that Ohio State may have its deepest and most talented running back corps of the Tressel era.
For starters, Daniel “Boom” Herron and Brandon Saine’s 1,300+ yards of rushing return to the backfield.
Add in the more than capable backup Jordan Hall, and redshirt freshman, “star in the making” Jamaal Berry, and it's hard to see how there would even be enough carries to go around if the game plan were to run the ball 80 percent of the time.
Now that Mike Leach is no longer coaching, there is probably not a coach in America who would not make such a group of running backs a big part of the offense.
Reason No. 2: Tressel Ball
Rush Limbaugh is not going to move to the West Coast and begin drinking flavored lattes anytime soon. Likewise, you probably won’t see Charles Barkley take a vow of silence during the NBA offseason.
In the same breath, Jim Tressel and his coaching staff are not going to suddenly jump out of character and start flinging the ball up and down the field just because they experienced an epiphany during Bowl season.
The same man that wants a “balanced offense” and believes that the most important play in football is the punt will more than likely still believe in the same principles that have kept Ohio State in the upper crust of the college football neighborhood.
There may be more confidence in Pryor that will ultimately result in a little more risk taking, but not to the extent that everyone believes.
Reason No. 3: The Body of Work Principle
Yes, Terrelle Pryor had the game everybody has been waiting for in the 2010 Rose Bowl.
Yes, Terrelle Pryor is a very gifted athlete and in most games will be the most talented specimen on the field.
Despite all of this, he has yet to show that he can be the type of sure fire talent that everyone predicted on a consistent basis.
Thus far, his play has been extraordinary at times, and yet curiously underwhelming at other times.
Everyone has been left with the impressions of a quarterback coming of age when he walked off of the field in Pasadena, when in reality it could very well have been the result of a game plan designed for a team that gave up chunks of yards in the air last year.
Until Ohio State and Pryor start to show this same type of game plan on a consistent basis, there is just not a whole lot of evidence to suggest that this year will be the unveiling of a new and improved air assault.
Reason No. 4: The Mason-Dixon Line
My shiny new Garmin tells me that Ohio is in the Midwest, where there are four and sometimes five seasons (I know it sounds weird, but if you live in this part of the country, you know what I am talking about).
While this can often be overplayed when talking about styles of play and home field advantages, there is some truth to the weather effect towards the tail end of a season just south of the Arctic Circle.
Though it is a bit of a non-factor during the late summer and early fall, once the gray skies roll in, the mercury drops, and wind begins to blow a little more, it does indeed necessitate a different style of play.
In the late fall of colder weather states, you do have to have a semblance of a running game that cannot be turned off and on like a light switch.
November is about grinding it out against your rival, when passing the ball is not the best option at times.
You can bet that, for this reason, the running game will never be completely shelved at Ohio State.
Things might be a lot different in Columbus this year.
The young quarterback is now maturing to a seasoned one that can make all of the throws.
The majority of the offense is back to support him, and there are talented wideouts and returning offensive linemen to bring it all full circle.
Sure, it’s exciting to think and really believe that Jim Tressel and his staff are in the lab designing a lot of wrinkles and gimmicks for the offense this year, but history and reality just don’t back up this school of thought.
If Ohio State were a desperate team in need of a shake up, then perhaps it would be a possibility.
In reality, the only desperate group is the fan base waiting to see the offensive potential realized.
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