Dave's IMO: Give Me Back the Keys!

David ThurmanCorrespondent INovember 4, 2009

Is Nick Siciliano really getting the job done? // Photo via bucknuts.com

Dave Thurman (12:10 pm)

Most of us wouldn't give the keys of a brand new Ferrari to our teenage son. We would wisely deduce that a sixteen year-old isn't ready to operate such a powerful, finely tuned automobile.  I wonder if Jim Tressel has been just as reckless in turning Terrelle Pryor over to an unproven commodity in Nick Siciliano. 

I think all Buckeye fans would agree that Pryor is a special talent.  He is an athletic freak: big and fast, with a powerful right arm.  But we also know that his quarterback skills are not as advanced as they need to be.  Much like Troy Smith and Vince Young, Terelle needs patient instruction in reading defenses, throwing with proper mechanics, and making wise decisions.  All the tools are there, he just needs mentoring.  The question looms, is Siciliano the guy to get maximum results?

What do we know about Nick Siciliano anyway?  It seems like he kind of popped onto the radar screen coming out of oblivion right into the big time.  A 1999 graduate of Youngstown State, he began as the assistant video coordinator at Oklahoma in 2000.  He returned to YSU in 2001 as the tight ends coach, and moved to Urbana University the next season where he served as the offensive coordinator.  In 2003-04 he was the quarterback coach at North Carolina A&T, before coming to Ohio State as the offensive quality control assistant in 2005.  As most of us know, when Joe Daniels became ill, Siciliano slid into the quarterback coach position where he remains today.  So he's not a complete novice but certainly doesn't have the kind of resume one would expect, considering the magnitude of his position.

Of course just because someone is young and inexperienced doesn't mean they are necessarily inept.  So, let's take a look at the results.  Is Pryor developing at the rate one would expect?  I think the answer is pretty obvious if one takes a look at tapes of the games.  My evaluation is based on three criteria:

-Mechanics: He still throws off his back foot far too much and doesn't step into throws.

-Reading defenses: Pryor rarely goes to a secondary receiver, instead staring down his target to the point where corners can read his eyes and get a jump on the ball.  I thought wideout DeVier Posey did a better job of finding his secondary receiver last week than Pryor normally does! 

-Decision making: The past two weeks have been better as Pryor has looked more decisive on when to stay in the pocket and when to run the ball, but he has been going against weak defenses that applied little pressure. 

Of course anyone who plays as many games and takes as many snaps as Pryor is bound to improve some, but I contend that the progress has been slow, and the numbers back up this conclusion.  Pryor's quarterback rating last year was 146.5 and this season it is 129.2.  I realize more is being asked of him, and he doesn't have Beanie Wells in the backfield, but the fact is, Pryor has not progressed as much as anticipated. 

But that's not all!  My motivation for writing this article came after watching Joe Bauserman on Saturday against an anemic New Mexcio State defense, that may well be the worst in the NCAA (Football Championship Subdivision).  Joe showed poor mechanics, did not step into his throws, struggled to complete his short and intermediate passes, and had a "deer in the headlights" look most of the time.  He reminded me of a poor man's Terrelle Pryor.  This is the same Joe Bauserman who looked really good in the spring game back in 2008.  I would suggest he has digressed since that point. How could that be, since he is getting plenty of snaps in practice as the only other scholarship quarterback who isn't redshirting?  Maybe it's because the instruction isn't very good.  That's the only explanation I can come up with.

Understand that I am not a quarterback coach and I don't get to watch Ohio State practices.  So I could be completely off base here, but my gut feeling is that Nick Siciliano is not getting the job done.  Since the play of Mr. Pryor is probably the single most crucial element in going to the next level, this needs to be fixed.  So my campaign is simple: Jim Tressel please tell Nick Siciliano to give you back the keys!


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