COLUMBUS—Ohio State forced a turnover on the opening kickoff and scored their first touchdown of the season a whopping 78 seconds into the opener here Thursday night against Marshall.
And just like that, this game was basically over.
As the Buckeyes began their national title pursuit by disposing of the Herd 45-7, here are five things we learned about Jim Tressel's 2010 ballclub.
1. Terrelle Pryor Has Made Progress, but He's Not a Finished Product
Pryor put up big numbers, especially in the first half, and finished 17-of-25 for 247 yards and three scores. However, he missed at least one wide-open touchdown (an overthrown pump-and-go to DeVier Posey where the defender did everything but spin around and fall down). Deciding when to tuck and run instead of standing in the pocket and letting receivers break open is also an area where Pryor could grow even further.
Ohio State's star junior has plenty of natural ability (which we knew) and a nice complement of weapons to throw to (look for tight end Jake Stoneburner to become one of Pryor's go-to guys as the season progresses), but let's not give him the Heisman just yet.
2. Ohio State Defense Is As Stingy As Ever
Big hits. Swarming to the ball. Well-timed breaks. Constant pressure.
Ho-hum: Just another year of Buckeye defensive dominance.
Led by veteran stars like Brian Rolle (who took an interception back to the house), Cameron Heyward, and Chimdi Chekwa, this unit will give opposing offenses fits all year long. In the debut, they held the Herd under 200 yards of total offense.
3. Brandon Saine Could Step Out of Boom Herron's Shadow To Have a Big Year
Saine topped the 100-yard mark before the halftime whistle sounded, and the senior speedster seems to have a better understanding than ever how and where to attack opposing defenses. Herron came on nicely after the break, as Jim Tressel seemed intent on getting "Boom" involved after a surprisingly low 10-yard first-half output (feeding him five carries on the opening drive of the third quarter alone).
4. This May Not Be a Typical Jim Tressel Team
Special teams were a sore point against the Herd (one extra point was tipped and a long field goal run back for a touchdown), while the offense looks primed to put up points in bunches with Pryor and company making big play after big play. Not the typical recipe for the Sweater Vest's ballclubs, but tough to argue with the result. Although...
5. We'll Learn A Lot More in Nine Days
When Jacory Harris and the Miami Hurricanes invade the 'Shoe on September 11th, the nation will finally get to see what this 2010 Buckeye team is really made of. Marshall provided surprisingly little competition in the opener (I think I've seen better defensive backfields covering high school games on Friday nights), and the showdown with Miami should give a more accurate reading on how much Pryor's matured, how dominant the Buckeyes' D will or won't be, and what Ohio State receivers will do when they're actually being covered.