Pryor says he's making progress
"Being a Buckeye is fun, man," Pryor said after Wednesday's practice.
The Ohio State sophomore, the nation's top quarterback recruit two years ago, had seldom been permitted to speak with reporters except at media day in August or for a short time after each game. An assistant coach sat next to him as he answered questions for 13½ minutes Wednesday.
A prototypical double-threat quarterback in the mold of Texas' Vince Young, Pryor has played well after an erratic game on Sept. 12, an 18-15 loss to Southern California.
The 6-foot-6, 235-pounder had a career-best 372 yards in a 38-0 win over Toledo two weeks ago; he then ran for 63 yards and a score and passed for 166 more yards and three touchdowns in last Saturday's 33-14 win at Indiana.
"I can hold my own at the quarterback position," he said. "I'm not saying I'm the greatest, I'm not saying I'm bad. But I feel I can hold my own and I feel I can get the receivers the ball and I can take the team down the field. I feel confident in doing that."
One common complaint about the 20-year-old quarterback's play is that he is inconsistent.
Asked what it means when he hears that people are looking for more consistency from him, he said, "I don't know. It's an opinion question and I guess maybe throw [for] 300 [yards] and run [for] 150 or 200 yards. I don't know."
He comes into Saturday's home game against unbeaten Wisconsin completing 58 percent of his passes for 861 yards and eight touchdowns. He is also the Buckeyes' leading rusher with 298 yards, four more than tailback Brandon Saine.
"The maturation process has been exceptional [for Pryor]," quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano said. "Going from the freshman year to his sophomore year has been incredible, just from a growing-up standpoint. That happens with a lot of kids. Because you know when they get here to Ohio State, their eyes are wide open and it's a bunch of new experiences for them. He's done a tremendous job from the learning curve and a maturity standpoint -- it's been unbelievable."
However, Pryor has thrown more interceptions so far this year (five) than he had all of last year (four), and his pass-efficiency rating is about 10 points lower.
Pryor said he has to reach a balance between trying to make big plays without turning over the ball.
"Coach [Jim Tressel] always says, 'Take what they give you.' If it's third and long, you don't want to take a long shot," Pryor said. "You're going to try and get that six, seven yards, whatever the yardage may be. It has to come to you. You can't just force stuff because that's when interceptions come. We saw some in the past when I tried to force it in and they got picked off."
Now 13-3 when playing most of the game at quarterback for Ohio State, Pryor was heavily criticized for wearing a tribute to Vick in his eyeblack for the team's opener against Navy. Under one eye on the black eye patch, he had white letters spelling out his sister's name. Under the other was the name "Vick."
Vick, also a speedy, strong-armed quarterback, served 18 months in federal prison for his involvement in a dogfighting ring before joining the Philadelphia Eagles before this season.
"I shouldn't have put it on," Pryor said at one point of the tribute to Vick. "Some people look at that kind of thing, you're the quarterback at Ohio State, you're the quarterback at Florida or any big-time college, they're going to see what's in your eyeblack."
Asked if that had been a learning experience for him, he added, "I wouldn't say learning experience. Not to catch anyone's attention, [but] I'd do it again. ... I was just happy he was out and he had been a big role model to me as I was growing up and I had always looked up to Mike Vick. Maybe it was stupid, just to get involved in that, I shouldn't have put myself in that position.
"Nothing against the dogs, I love dogs and all of that," he continued. "But he's out of jail and I looked up to him. He was a big role model. That's why I did it."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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