Heisman-hopeful Pryor coming to town

Josh Katzenstein

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday heâÄôs been seeing MinnesotaâÄôs senior quarterback Adam Weber in his sleep this week.

If thatâÄôs the case, the No. 10 BuckeyesâÄô Heisman-hopeful quarterback Terrelle Pryor must be throwing off the GophersâÄô circadian rhythm leading up to SaturdayâÄôs 7 p.m. contest at TCF Bank Stadium.

âÄúWith Terrelle Pryor, obviously heâÄôs given a lot of people nightmares,âÄù Minnesota interim head coach Jeff Horton said. âÄúIf you look at his maturation from when he was a freshman to where he is now, heâÄôs come light-years.âÄù

The 6-foot-6-inch, 233-pound junior is the complete quarterback. He can throw. He can run. He even has a receiving touchdown this season.

Horton called Pryor âÄî who has 21 total touchdowns in 2010 âÄî one of best dual-threat signal callers in the nation. If it was not for the emergence of AuburnâÄôs Cam Newton and MichiganâÄôs Denard Robinson this season, that might be a knock on Pryor.

Luckily for the Gophers, their defense should be at full strength with the return of linebacker Mike Rallis, who didnâÄôt start but had seven tackles in SaturdayâÄôs 33-21 loss to Penn State. Although the Gophers have had trouble tackling all season, Rallis is athletic enough to contain Pryor, Horton said.

But defensive end D.L. Wilhite said thereâÄôs no way to stop Pryor, so Minnesota will simply need to slow him down âÄî something theyâÄôve struggled to do this season against other running quarterbacks like South DakotaâÄôs Dante Warren and NorthwesternâÄôs Dan Persa.

âÄú[Pryor is] going to make some plays every game. WeâÄôve just got to do our best to contain him,âÄù Wilhite said. âÄúHeâÄôs one of the best, probably one of the fastest quarterbacks in the nation, so itâÄôs going to be a different challenge.âÄù

What makes Ohio StateâÄôs offense all the more difficult is that the Buckeyes have two of the best wide receivers in the Big Ten. Senior Dane Sanzenbacher and junior DeVier Posey both rank in the top 10 in receiving yards in the conference.

If the Gophers try to stop Pryor from running, he can throw it deep to sure-handed receivers. If they play tight coverage, Pryor could find big running lanes.

âÄúYouâÄôve got to know your responsibilities,âÄù senior safety Kyle Theret said about defending Pryor. âÄúBut it is a fine line because if you go deep âĦ he can run a little bit.âÄù

Against a more-experienced Minnesota defense last season, Pryor destroyed the Gophers in a 38-7 win. As just a sophomore, Pryor ran for 104 yards and a touchdown and threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns, both to Posey.

âÄúYouâÄôd hope on Halloween maybe somebody else would show up in Ohio State uniforms,âÄù Horton said. âÄúBut theyâÄôre the ones that are showing up, so weâÄôve got to be ready to go.âÄù

Planning to attack

Ohio StateâÄôs offense is as scary as any that Minnesota has seen all year, but its defense is no treat either.

The Buckeyes rank No. 3 in the nation in total defense (234.5 yards allowed per game), so the Gophers will have to catch them by surprise if they want to keep it interesting.

âÄúWhen you play an Ohio State team, you have to be in attack mode,âÄù Horton said. âÄúYouâÄôve got to go right at them right from the start. I think if you sit back and wait for something to happen, sit back and hope they make a mistake, youâÄôve got no chance.âÄù

Offensive coordinator Thomas Hammock took over play-calling duties with HortonâÄôs interim promotion, and on Saturday, he called a more aggressive game âÄî more deep passes earlier in the game âÄî than Horton had through the first seven games, which is a benefit Athletics Director Joel Maturi likely didnâÄôt realize when he fired Tim Brewster.

âÄúWith coach Ham being able to mix it up, they donâÄôt have a lot of tape on how he calls a game,âÄù Weber said. âÄúThat will be an advantage for us. We donâÄôt really have a pattern yet, so weâÄôll probably be able to catch them off guard.âÄù

Injury update

Senior fullback Jon Hoese is listed as doubtful after injuring his hamstring on a fourth-down run in SaturdayâÄôs loss to Penn State. Sophomore Ed Cotton is listed as the starter, and Hoese will be re-evaluated later this week.

Left tackle Ed Olson is listed as the starter but suffered an ankle injury Saturday. Dom Alford saw extensive time in OlsonâÄôs place Saturday and could fill in similarly this week.

Backup nose tackle Austin Hahn will miss âÄúseveral weeksâÄù with a knee injury, and defensive tackle RaâÄôShede Hageman has been reinstated after a one-game suspension for violating team rules.

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