Tomorrow's the day, Terrelle. Tomorrow is the day why you were brought to Ohio State. Forget the National Championships, and forget Big Ten Championships, Terrelle. While they are wonderful accomplishments, and while they are great goals to have while you play at THE Ohio State University, they're not THE GOAL.
Like it or not, right or wrong, your valor as a quarterback is defined by your performance against the Michigan Wolverines, Terrelle. Troy Smith didn't fall in defeat to them during his career, and look at the aura he holds in this town. Great quarterbacks like Bobby Hoying are often not given their full due because they struggled in this game.
So get ready for the spotlight, Terrelle, and get ready for your legacy to be written, because this is the game that will make or break you in Buckeye folklore.
From a strategy standpoint, I fully expect the Wolverines defense to load the box on first and second downs with eight-man fronts. Expect those safeties up around the line of scrimmage waiting for any kind of Beanie Wells or Pryor in the earlier running game.
I look for Michigan Defensive Coordinator Scott Shafer to try to get the Buckeyes into third and long passing situations and put the game on Pryor's arm.
I also think you see a different approach, at least early, for the UM defensive unit. If they are successful in getting Pryor and OSU into third and longs, I look for them to try to mix up looks on third down situations. Look for Shafer to AT LEAST EARLY...try to blitz Pryor, as opposed to the soft zones on third down that Pryor's been getting from the likes of Illinois and Northwestern.
Also, don't be surprised if you see one of Michigan's best defenders, linebacker Obi Ezeh, act as a spy in a soft zone if Michigan doesn't indeed try to mix coverages to try to confuse Pryor.
For the UM defense, I think the onus definitely falls on the defensive front four for the Wolverines...Brandon Graham, Ryan Van Bergen, Terrence Taylor, Tim Jamison, etc....have to win the battle in the trenches for this defense to establish its presence in the backfield consistently.
For Terrelle Pryor, this game is simple...play within yourself, understand your sight adjustments in the passing game, know your defensive keys on the option zone read, and know when it's there, it's okay to throw it away and play another down.
Play smart, get the ball to your playmakers, and be the playmaker when you see your opportunities—because the opportunities will present themselves throughout this game.
Troy Smith became a Buckeye legend by keeping his team in the game and playing smart football, and then when the plays were there to be made...he made them.
This is Ohio State vs. Michigan, so throw out the records, Terrelle. Respect this team because this IS the Michigan Wolverine season. They have nothing else going in a historically bad season. Right now their program is an absolute mess, and they are looking for ANY KIND OF REDEMPTION. A victory over Ohio State goes a long way in doing that, so expect a very fired-up Michigan unit out there tomorrow.
All this said...this Buckeyes team is just clearly better than the Wolverines. If Terrelle goes out there with intensity and urgency, plays within himself and makes plays as they are there, and lets the talent around him work for him, the Buckeyes should make this rivalry seven out of eight, and five in a row.
Welcome to THE GAME, Terrelle. Welcome to the greatest rivalry in all of sports. In about 27 hours from this article you will be baptized into its passion and spectacle—and you will TRULY start writing your legacy here at THE Ohio State University.
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