There is something fishy going on at Ohio State. The status on Beanie Wells has changed more frequently than I’ve been able to keep track of, the QBs have more to worry about than throwing interceptions, and the team is no longer a Big Ten favorite.
Since the Illinois game last year, most Buckeye fans have been skeptical of QB Todd Boeckman, and to add fury to the fire, freshman Terrelle Pryor has looked very strong in the first three games of the season.
Boeckman, a fifth-year senior, has been quoted saying that he is not worried about Pryor taking his starting spot, and that he feels he is mentoring the highest recruited high school quarterback.
But after the dismal loss to No. 1 USC, one has to wonder: Could it hurt replacing experience with the skill of Pryor and the type of QB that he has proven to be?
With lingering questions at running back, having a QB like Pryor that can throw and run would be a great asset. Furthermore, Pryor has shown the nation that he feels just as comfortable out on that field as he did in high school, even taking hits from the powerful USC defense and jumping back up with his head in the game.
Boeckman took a huge sack in the game against the Trojans and was obviously in a lot of pain (and bandages), which led to his lackluster performance in the later part of the game.
In his press conference, head coach Jim Tressel hinted that Buckeye fans could see a new starting QB in the coming weeks and has said that Pryor received 65 percent of the first team reps during practice on Tuesday—partially because of Boeckman’s experience and physical condition, but also because Pryor has earned those reps.
It is looking to be a game of wait-and-see when Big Ten play starts after a game against Troy this weekend, when Ohio State hosts Minnesota.
As of Wednesday morning, Beanie Wells is still questionable for the matchup against Troy this weekend despite being listed as a co-starter with Dan Herron on the depth chart.
Wells has still failed to take part in a full-contact practice since his injury on Aug. 30 against Youngstown State.
However, the thing that has most Buckeye fans scratching their heads is that no one has said what is wrong with Wells’ foot, aside from the fact that he has lingering soreness and tenderness.
"His cutting work and push-off and more football-oriented stuff will begin again today," Tressel said Tuesday on the Big Ten coaches' teleconference. "If he can handle that, we can upgrade him from questionable to probable. If he can't, we'll leave him right where he is. He didn't respond well last week from cutting."
Missing the game against USC probably killed Wells, but it definitely wasn’t what killed the Buckeyes, who would have lost even if the star running back had been in perfect condition.
One rumor going around Buckeye fans is a possible medical redshirt for the junior back, who was the highest recruit in his class a few years ago. A medical redshirt would give Wells an additional year of eligibility, and there are some reasonable arguments in favor of doing this.
First, Wells has made it known that he wants to win the Heisman Trophy, which is definitely not as big a possibility after missing the biggest game of the season and looking forward to a season tainted with lingering effects of the injury.
Wells also wants to go high in the draft, which also doesn’t seem likely after this injury because NFL scouts are looking for resilience and strength.
Here’s why giving Wells a medical redshirt doesn’t make sense.
Wells still has a year of eligibility after this season, and it’s far-fetched to expect to see him in Scarlet and Gray two years from now, even though a Pryor/Beanie combo for the next two years could propel this Buckeye team to be one of the greatest in Ohio State history.
As well, although the coaching staff has been relatively silent about the injury, it really doesn’t seem as if it is serious enough to warrant a medical redshirt, which according to the NCAA is given to players that have suffered a “serious injury causing the complete loss, or almost complete loss, of a full season.”
Although two years of a matured Pryor and a healthy Wells seems like a dream come true, this idea seems definitely too good to be true.
The Offensive Line
Our O-line has been a prolonged question in the minds of many recently, and Saturday’s game against USC did nothing to quell the fire. Senior left guard Steven Rehring has been labeled as out for this weekend’s game, leaving Tressel with several options to fill the spot.
First, sophomore Andy Miller could be brought in at left guard. Secondly, sophomore Bryant Browning—who has started all three games this year at right tackle—could make to shift to left guard, as he did in the second half of the USC game while true freshman J.B. Shugarts worked in at right tackle.
Both lineups are possible for the game against Troy, as is seeing true freshman Michael Brewster, who has been practicing at left guard this week.
There's only thing to be said here: Where was James Laurinaitis this weekend? Granted, I was in the stands and not getting commentary on every play on the field, but I felt as if it was the second half before I even saw the linebacker make a tackle. Where was the backfield powerhouse I grew to love last season?
Questions, questions, and more questions are surrounding this Buckeye team. The only thing left to do is wait and see what Tressel has in mind for the rest of the season, which will hopefully be more successful than what he tried to accomplish at the Coliseum this weekend.