Big Ten: Mike Tomczak
October, 14, 2009
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is the most analyzed and scrutinized player in the Big Ten. The former No. 1 recruit in the nation, who ascended to the starting job as a true freshman after only three games last season, has led the Buckeyes' offense for the past 16 games. Pryor has drawn mixed reviews so far in his career, showcasing his incredible natural talent at times but struggling to find the consistency many had expected. He led the league in pass efficiency last season and was a surprise pick as Big Ten preseason offensive player of the year in July. His numbers have dipped a bit this year, but he's still fairly early in his development.
Buckeyes quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano spends more time with Pryor than anybody else, and like the quarterback, Siciliano has drawn his share of criticism. I caught up with Siciliano last week -- before the Wisconsin game -- to discuss Pryor's progress.
|Matthew Emmons/US Presswire|
|Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor is driven to lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title.|
Nick Siciliano: We believe he's right where we thought he'd be. Of course, we'd always like him to be playing better. That's obvious. But he takes every week very seriously and he attacks the game plan like nobody I've seen. He wants to be great, and he's trying to do everything he can to help this team.
He relied so much on instincts in high school and it carried him a long way. The college game is a completely different animal. Do you see him display those same instincts? Is he comfortable using that natural ability?
NS: Some of those instincts are innate. He's relying on them when he has to. The good thing is, he hasn't lost them, which would not be such a great thing. He's learning when to and when not to, which is critical.
Is there ever a concern that a guy could lose those instincts because he's so focused on the game plan?
NS: Oh, yeah, that could happen to a guy. I don't think that's happened with Terrelle, but that could definitely happen. Sometimes you get paralysis by analysis.
You've mentioned that his footwork has been a big area of improvement. How do you see that play out in a game?
NS: With knowledge becomes power, and as he learns more, everything else mechanically is going to get better because you don't have to think as much. His footwork is getting better. It's a lot smoother than it was when he got here. In fact, we were watching some tape of the Wisconsin game last year. Just to watch him in practice [last week] and then watch tape of the game last year was incredible. After so many reps, some of the things become a lot easier for you. It's not a fact of he didn't know what he was doing. You just build up muscle memory.
He talked about being frustrated with his interceptions this season. From a mental standpoint, how intense is he in terms of approaching the job?
NS: He's a perfectionist. He doesn't like to make mistakes. He doesn't care if it's a handoff and he's supposed to step at 6 o'clock and he steps at 7. It bothers him not to be perfect on every play.
Do you have to remind him that he's still a young player so he doesn't get too down?
NS: You've got to remind him every day. He's still young. He's a second-year sophomore. He didn't have the ability of Colt McCoy or those guys who were able to sit through a year and learn a little bit more. You've always got to make sure that your trigger guy has got some confidence.