Win Over Illini Underscores Impact of Suspensions
By John Porentas
We got the first hint last week. Offensive left tackle Mike Adams returned to the Buckeye lineup after serving five games of suspension, and voila, there was a noticeable difference in the way OSU moved the ball. It wasn't quite enough to win against Nebraska, but the difference was definitely there.
This week it was Boom Herron's turn. He came back after six games of watching his teammates on television, and it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to say that he was the difference in the game. In a contest that was dominated by the rushing attack, Herron was the leading rusher. He also provided the leadership, the spark that has been missing.
"Boom just adds a whole lot of energy and enthusiasm to the offense overall," said OSU offensive coordinator Jim Bollman.
"When he's in the huddle it's just a little bit different deal.
"He's been there, been through a lot of wars, and really has a great desire to excel.
"He's one of those guys you talk about as a leader, lead by example and take people with you, and he's one of those kind of guys."
The Buckeye offense has struggled this season, but as the pieces keep getting added back into it from the abyss of suspension, we're seeing just how important each cog is to that unit's overall success. We're also realizing just how much they have been missed. The process is enlightening, but also agonizing as the holy trinity of conjecture - Woulda, Coulda, and Shoulda - get the attention of onlookers and speculators.
With Adams and Herron back on the field the OSU running game looks formidable, but the passing game remains woeful to nonexistent. Its easy to say that is a function of horrible play calling or game planning, but it was just as easy to say that about an average to below average running game prior to the return of Adams and Herron. Now we know a little differently.
To invoke Woulda, Coulda and Shoulda, the Buckeye passing attack is currently without its senior quarterback and most veteran receiver. It's impossible to know just how good or bad the passing attack would be with them, but consider this. In three years, Terrelle Pryor became OSU's second winningest quarterback ever having won 31 games and lost four. Along the way he established the following passing marks: He is fifth on the career passing charts at Ohio State with 6,177 yards. His single season totals of 2,772 yards in 2010 and 2,094 yards in 2009 rank third and 14th, respectively. His career completion percentage of .609 (477-783) ranks third and his 57 touchdown passes is tied with Bobby Hoying's 57 TDs as the school record..
Pryor has five of the six games in Ohio State history where a quarterback has passed for 200 yards and rushed for 100 yards in the same game. He ranks second among Buckeyes with 8,341 yards of total offense. His 3,526 yards in 2010 is the Ohio State single season record and his 2,873 yards in 2009 ranks fifth. He holds three of the Top 10 single game total offense efforts, topped by his 372 yards in 2009 vs. Toledo, and he holds six of the Top 20 all-time total offense games.
That's just passing. When it comes to rushing, he is Ohio State's all-time rushing leader among quarterbacks with 2,164 yards, a total that also ranks fifth all-time among Big Ten quarterbacks and it is a total that ranks 18th among all Ohio State rushers.
Read the three paragraphs above and you tell me just how badly the OSU passing game misses Pryor, and more importantly, what this season would look like with him as opposed to the way it looks now. You can argue that this year's the receiving cadre may have hindered even Pryor, and you would probably be right. You would also be right if you said that the passing game would still be light years ahead of where it has been thus far, even with this year's receivers, and we have not yet entered Posey and his absence into the discussion.
Woulda, Coulda and Shoulda.