Buckeyes need to get creative now

September, 11, 2008
9/11/08
2:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Jim Tressel might have seen this coming.

When asked about the health of running back Chris "Beanie" Wells during the last two weeks, the ever-cautious Tressel made sure to emphasize that Wells' response to practicing on the injured toe would ultimately determine his availability for USC. Even Tuesday, when he confirmed that Wells would play against the Trojans, Tressel said much would depend on how Wells felt after Wednesday's practice. Well, he practiced and didn't feel good today.

The extent of Wells' next-day soreness might have surprised his coaches, who listed him at 75 percent after Wednesday's workout. But they had to be planning for this outcome.

And that plan had better be creative. It needs to be better than the vanilla offense we saw last Saturday against Ohio U.

Implications of the Wells injury:

  • Terrelle Pryor needs to play more than perhaps originally envisioned. Whether he's ready or not, he brings an explosive element to the Ohio State running game that they might not have with Daniel Herron, Maurice Wells and Brandon Saine. USC hasn't seen much of Pryor, and his size and speed are tough to plan for.
  • An offense often comes together around something like this and performs better than expected. Quarterback Todd Boeckman and wideouts Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie admitted their timing was off last week. My guess is they'll be on the same page Saturday, especially if Chris Wells can't play. The offensive line also knows it needs a better effort without Wells.
  • Saine needs to play more against the Trojans. He was limited during the preseason and had only five carries against Ohio, but the sophomore brings speed and versatility to the offense. Herron will get the first shot if Chris Wells doesn't play, but Saine should play a much greater role.

ESPN's Robert Smith offers his take on the Wells injury situation.

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