Oregon didn't see this Pryor coming
January, 1, 2010
By Ted Miller | ESPN.com
PASADENA, Calif. -- Oregon felt good about its defensive plan for the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images Pryor completed 23 of 37 passes for 266 yards with two touchdowns in Ohio State's win over Oregon.
The Ducks watched plenty of Ohio State film. They felt they understood what to expect from the Buckeyes offense. They wanted to run the ball and not take chances in the passing game because sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor was not a confident, consistent passer.
So the plan was simple.
"The plan was to make him throw the ball," Ducks defensive end Kenny Rowe said. "But when he threw it that good, the plan didn't go well."
No, it didn't. Ohio State piled up 419 yards in its 26-17 triumph, while making the Ducks fancy-pants offense look mostly pedestrian.
Pryor threw 37 times -- six more attempts than he had in any game this season -- but the critical problem was he completed 23 of them for 266 yards with two touchdowns and a mostly meaningless interception on a deep ball on third and long.
"It was surprising to us," coach Chip Kelly said. "We felt, watching their last couple of games where they didn't throw it very much, they were rather conservative. They came in and opened it up. Obviously, Terrelle beat us."
Said end Will Tukuafu: "I was surprised. I think [Pryor] was surprised. But they were feeling it. He threw up the right balls to the right guys. They made the big plays."
Not only did Pryor beat the Ducks with his arm, he was able to do things the defense expected but couldn't stop. Pryor also was the game's leading rusher, gaining 92 yards on 20 carries. Most of those yards came on scrambles, many of which featured Pryor just eluding fairly solid pressure from the Ducks.
"He's big and he's fast and he's tough to bring down," linebacker Casey Matthews said.
And that passing and running helped the Buckeyes convert third down after third down -- they were 11 of 21 on the night -- and to possess the ball for 23 more minutes than the Ducks.
"You're breaking your neck for two plays and this guy scrambles and stuff," Tukuafu said. "It's frustrating, but he's a great athlete."
Kelly reiterated that he doesn't care about time of possession. But his quick-strike offense does need the ball. It only ran 53 plays on the night. The Ducks averaged 69 plays per game this season.
"If I were to draw up anything that could stop us, it's keeping the ball out of our hands," tight end Ed Dickson said. "Their offense kept the ball out of our hands."
Pryor kept the ball out of Oregon's hands.
Every Oregon player and coach seemed surprised that Pryor was able to play such a complete game, to look like the dual-threat quarterback that his talent suggested but his play rarely produced.
In the other locker room, however, at least one guy wasn't surprised with Pryor's performance.
"I always thought I could have a game like this anytime," Pryor said.