Dave Thurman (4:25 PM)

A weird year just got a little stranger but I guess we should have expected that on Halloween!  The sweater vest was pushed aside as JT called a succesful onside kick in the second quarter, and shortly thereafter had Posey accept a pitch from Herron and then throw deep downfield to Sanzanbacher for a touchdown.  On a day when conservative play calling was trashed, another staple of Tressel ball was also laid to rest as four field goals were missed!  And, Pryor spent the second half with his shoulder pads removed wearing the jacket to a sweatsuit.  When have you ever seen that before?  Certainly a weird day. 
Truth is it is difficult to get any kind of feel from this game because there was really no offensive rhythm established.  Ohio State made lots of big plays due to their superior athleticism, but didn't look that efficient on offense, despite winding up with 559 yards.  Pryor was able to turn some broken plays into long runs in the first half, but hit less than 50% of his passes, and nearly threw a couple pick sixes.  And Saine looked tentative running the ball a week removed from a mild concussion.  As the game progressed the line wore out the smaller Aggie defense, but one wonders if the offense is ready to deal with the excellent defenses that loom the next two weeks.  Based on the first few series of the game, my guess is they are not.  But it was nice to get so many players into the game and to score 45 points, even if it wasn't always pretty.

Of course the Silver Bullet defense was sharp and looked hungry even though they faced a really weak Aggie squad.  They gave up a mere 62 yards and 2 first downs while forcing 3 turnovers and actually outscored New Mexico State 7-0!

That's the quick recap.  Now let's get more technical and talk about what we learned (if anything) from this strange, nearly November non-conference game:
Seth Smith is averaging 87.9 yards a game // Photo via nmstatesports.com
Dave and Drew Thurman (11:12 am)

Mascot: Aggies
Stadium: Aggie Memorial Stadium (30, 343)
2008 Record: 3-9
2009 Record: 3-5
Head Coach: DeWayne Walker (first year at NMSU, 3-5)
Letterman Returning: 44 (21 Lost)
Returning Starters: Offense - 5, Defense - 5, Specialist - 1
Base Defense: 4-3
Base Offense: Multiple Formations
Returning Stars: WR Marcus Anderson, LB Jason Scott

Notable Alumni:

Well, there aren't really any recognizable names on this list, so instead we are printing the words to their fight song which is unique to say the least:

Aggies, Oh Aggies
the hills send back the cry
we're to do or die!
Aggies, Oh Aggies
we'll win this game or know the reason why!
And when we win this game
we'll buy a keg of booze
and we'll drink it to the Aggies 'til we wobble in our shoes
Aggies, Aggies, Go Aggies!
Aggies, Oh Aggies
the hills send back the cry
we're here to do or die!
Aggies, Oh Aggies
we'll win this game or know the reason why!

New Mexico State Overview:

Coming into the season the Aggies were expected to be bottom feeders in the WAC, and they have not disappointed. They have not beaten a quality opponent yet, and are coming off two crushing defeats to Louisiana Tech (45-7) and Fresno State (34-3). As you can expect based on those games, offense has been a struggle. The Aggies are averaging 13.2 points a game compared to their opponents' 28, and are only averaging 254.2 yards per game. 
The Buckeyes received their second commitment in the class of 2011, and it is yet another defensive end. The commitment came from Steve Miller (6-5 220 pounds) from Canton McKinley. Miller is one of the top players in the state of Ohio in 2011, and had a whole host of offers from schools like Notre Dame, West Virgina, UCLA, Tennessee, and more. He joins DE Kenny Hayes in the class of 2011, and staff deserves some praise for how they have started this class out. While the 2010 class remains stagnant at the moment, it is nice to see the 2011 class heating up! 

Drew Thurman (4:12 pm)

With just four remaining games left on the schedule, the Buckeyes still have some tough questions to answer. How they answer those questions will ultimately decide the outcome of the year and of the future. Let's take a look:

Question #1 - Will the Buckeyes remain healthy enough to win the Big Ten?

One of the biggest story lines of the 2009 season has been the accumulation of injuries for the Buckeyes. This week's game against New Mexico State is a microcosm of the season as a whole, with the offensive line in shambles and the top two running backs trying to recover. Each week the Buckeyes have seemed to deal with someone going down, and it has killed consistency and momentum. Like it or not seasons are defined by injuries, just ask Oklahoma, and staying healthy is top priority as they face three tough games to close out the season. Guys like Dexter Larimore, Boom Herron, Brandon Saine, and the entire offensive line need to get off the injury list.

Question #2 - Can the team handle the tough road test against Penn State and at home against Iowa?

Following this week's game against New Mexico State, the Buckeyes get ready to take on two of their toughest tests on the year. First, on November 7th they head to Happy Valley to take on the Nittany Lions. Luckily for the Buckeyes it is not a night game, but the environment will be hostile regardless. I really believe this is the hardest game left for the team. Penn State has started to get into a groove the last several weeks, and looked very impressive in a 35-10 beatdown of the Wolverines. They are a hot team right now, and the Buckeyes play them in Beaver Stadium! Then the Buckeyes host the Hawkeyes, who sit atop the Big Ten standings. Unfortunately for them they have lost starting running back Adam Robinson for the season, but Iowa has been winning games on the defensive side of the ball. They seems to be a team of destiny this season, and knocking them off will be a challenge.

In these games the spotlight will especially be on Terrelle Pryor and the offense. The defense has done enough to win every game this season for the Buckeyes, and now Pryor and the offensive must show they have what it takes against a top tier defense.
Drew Thurman (3:23 am)

While the talk of Pryor has become more positive after his solid performance against Minnesota, he is not far from Buckeye Nation's wrath. With games against Penn State, Iowa, and Michigan upcoming, Pryor's mechanics and decision making are going to be under the microscope more than ever. It's obviously understandable that a player as hyped as Pryor was coming out of high school is dealing with very big expectations, but continued patience may be what the doctor ordered for fans.

First of all, one always has to put in perspective the learning curve for athletic quarterbacks. At both the college and pro level athletic quarterbacks blossom later than "pro-style" quarterbacks in their ability to throw the ball with consistency. At each step along the way, they face tougher defenses with more athletes. That means they can't just out athlete the opponent, they must also learn the X's and O's of the job. Pryor is in that transition right now. Last year the Buckeyes depended on Beanie and the running attack, while giving Pryor a basic offense. Now in year two, Pryor is dealing with the tough transition of learning the job rather than just being an athlete. The encouraging thing is that Pryor has the next four games plus two more years of eligibility to continue his learning.

The future is just that though, the future. What about this year? Well, a closer look at Pryor's statistics show he may not be as bad as we think when his numbers are put in perspective...
Dave Thurman (7:09 pm)

There is joy in Columbus again.  Nobody is threatening suicide this week.  The "Fire Jim Tressel" chants and websites are quiet at least for a little while.  And Terrelle Pryor can actually go to class again without wearing a disguise.  What a difference a week makes!

If you saw the game you know that it was actually fun to watch as the offense not only showed up but had over 500 total yards.  The line blocked well, Pryor made a lot of good decisions, Posey caught two bombs for touchdowns, and the Buckeyes actually had a multi-dimensional, high-powered attack. 

That's not to say that all went well.  Early on OSU moved the ball but couldn't convert drives into points.  Another Pettrey miss on a short field goal (how is he better from 40+ than from 30 and in?), a failure by Posey to hold onto the ball on a couple of plays that could have been six, and an interception in the endzone at the end of the half meant that the Bucks had 278 yards but only 7 points in the first half.  But they did show the ability to have a long, sustained drive, something that has been missing the past couple of weeks.  And they didn't panic when a few drives stalled.
Dave and Drew Thurman (12:03 pm)

Mascot: Golden Gophers
Stadium: TCF Bank Stadium (50,000)
2008 Record: 7-6 (Lost to Kansas 42-21 in Insight Bowl)
2009 Record: 4-3
Head Coach: Tim Brewster (3rd year at Minnesota, 12-20)
Letterman Returning: 54 (21 Lost)
Returning Starters: Offense - 9, Defense - 8, Specialists - 0
Base Defense: 4-3
Base Offense: Ace (3 Wideouts)
Returning Stars: QB Adam Weber, WR Eric Decker (pictured)

Notable Alumni:

Bob Dylan - Singer/Songwriter
Hubert H. Humphrey - Former U.S. Vice President
Jessica Lange - Actress
Tony Dungy - NFL Player and Coach
Tom Lehman - PGA Golfer
Dave Winfield - MLB Hall of Famer
Kevin McHale - NBA Player
Yanni - Grammy-nominated pianist and composer

Cheerleading Scouting Report:
Minnesota Overview:

Tim Brewster and company head into Columbus this Saturday, coming off a crushing 20-0 defeat at Penn State. Much like the Buckeyes on the other side of the ball, the Gophers are trying to get themselves established on the offensive. Against Penn State they would only put up 138 total yards, and really struggled trying to get the running game going. This has been a trend all year for Brewster's squad, and the offense has not looked sharp in the team's biggest games. In fact, they are being outgained on the ground and through the air by their opponents. Not a very positive sign for a winning team.
Drew Thurman (4:01 pm)

Since the Purdue loss last Saturday, everyone has thrown their opinions in on what is wrong with Pryor and the Buckeyes. You can't escape it! Go to ESPN.com, talk of Pryor abounds. Head over to SI.com, they have an opinion. Even Pryor's head coach voiced his opinion on the source of Pryor's problems this week. You have to wonder what that does to a young man, and how that hinders his confidence (both in himself and the team).

In yesterday's press conference, reporters and fans expected the same sort of words from Tressel. The timing was right, right? If there was ever a time when Tressel would start to be open about the flaws of Pryor it would be after a 4 turnover performance from the young man in a loss to Purdue. Wrong! Instead, Tressel came out and talked about his progress and the positive signs of the future. Exhibit A and B:

“I think as you watch his footwork, it’s significantly better,” Tressel said. “If you watch his progression of understanding what we need to do and where we need to go – whether it’s run check offs, or who he should be reading and so forth."


I don’t think that anyone could question the explosive potential, both running and passing, that Terrelle brings,” Tressel said. “Have we done everything that we could to maximize that? Probably not. Has he done everything that he needs to do to maximize that? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean we won’t keep working on it.”
It was a tough weekend for Buckeye fans everywhere, and it's easy to become angry or to completely lose perspective.  So in an effort to make things a little lighter Drew and I have cooked up a David Letterman style Top Ten List.  Please understand that we are not trying to demean Terrelle or the coaching staff (we love the Buckeyes), but merely attempting to laugh away our frustrations.  So, without further adieu, here are the "Top Ten Ways to Help Pryor Succeed":

# 10. Hire Dr. Buddy Rydell (a.k.a. Jack Nicholson) for "Anger Management" sessions.
# 9. Trade Nick Siciliano for a quarterback's coach to be named later.

# 8. Put a weight in Pryor's left shoe so he can't throw off his back foot.
We have been saying this same thing for weeks:

"Ohio State's best play Saturday may have been the two-point conversion after the Posey touchdown. Pryor bootlegged and simply outran the Boilermakers to the pylon. Given the talent gap between the two teams, it stands to reason Ohio State could have dialed up similar plays quite a bit more throughout the game and come away with more than 13 first downs. But as long as Tressel insists on turning Pryor into Craig Krenzel, the offense will suffer."

"Pryor may not be the ideal quarterback, but he's still more talented than 99 percent of the players in America. Ohio State coaches need to stop trying to force him to be something he's not and embrace what he is. If they do that, they'll find their jobs, and Ohio State's games, a lot easier."

Source: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/andy_staples/10/17/ohio-state/index.html#ixzz0UFbg0kPa