Sunday, December 4, 2016
Ohio State offense vs. Texas defense
The decision to replace senior QB Todd Boeckman with heralded true freshman Terrelle Pryor earlier this year couldn't have been an easy one for head coach Jim Tressel, but it was the right move for the team. Pryor's ability to make plays with his feet added another dimension to what was becoming a stale offensive attack. His rare combination of size, athletic ability and speed is comparable to that of former Texas great Vince Young. Buckeyes RB Chris Wells goes 237 pounds and is a physical specimen. Wells rarely goes down with the first hit and he has the second gear to go the distance when he finds a crease. While he doesn't have great elusiveness, he can cut back against the grain when he sees defenders out of position. With Pryor at quarterback and Wells at running back, it's easy to see why teams have struggled to defend Ohio State's read-option package. On the flip side, Texas finished second in the nation in rushing defense at just 73.6 yards per game. DT Roy Miller is an effective interior run-stuffer who has the initial quickness to occasionally disrupt plays in the backfield and the strength to hold his own when teams run at him. Behind him, talented LBs Sergio Kindle, Roddrick Muckelroy and Rashad Bobino have excellent range and swarm to the ball. Something has to give, and look for the Longhorns to blink first. A somewhat overrated but very strong Ohio State offensive line is capable of creating some seams for Wells and Pryor in this game. It's also important to point out that Longhorns RDS Earl Thomas is a redshirt freshman and LDS Blake Gideon is a true freshman. They have performed admirably but they are still relatively inexperienced and they get caught out of position at times on play-action fakes. That doesn't bode well for Texas because Pryor puts excellent zip on his downfield passes and he can make the safeties pay when they bite on a play fake. In addition, Pryor should have some success finding WRs Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline underneath. Both run crisp routes and should be able to separate from CBs Ryan Palmer and Deon Beasley. As a result, it's important that Texas force Pryor to get rid of the ball before he can scan the field and locate the open man. There's reason to be optimistic about the Longhorns' ability to do so. Kindle and DE Brian Orakpo are explosive coming off the edge and Miller gets good push up the middle. However, they must wrap Pryor up when they get to him and they can't get caught out of their rushing lanes because Pryor breaks arm tackles with ease and he can bust a long run when he breaks contain.
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