Wells, Pryor lead Woody-like attack
Published 11:51 pm Saturday, September 27, 2008
COLUMBUS — Woody Hayes would have loved the Beanie and Terrelle Show.
Tailback Chris ‘‘Beanie’’ Wells rushed for 106 yards in his first game in a month and quarterback Terrelle Pryor ran for two scores and threw for another as No. 14 Ohio State went old school to beat Minnesota 34-21 on Saturday.
It was the first time the two started in the same backfield. All the Buckeyes did was rush for a season-best 279 yards on 37 attempts.
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‘‘It’s incredible to be with Terrelle,’’ Wells said. ‘‘What an athlete. We can provide a spark for the offense.’’
In an era of everyone embracing the spread offense, the Buckeyes relied mainly on the option with some modern-day sets tossed in. They passed for just 135 yards, throwing the ball only 22 times — which would have thrilled Hayes, master of ‘‘three yards and a cloud of dust.’’
Call this version ‘‘7.5 yards and a hint of black tire dust from the FieldTurf.’’
Coach Jim Tressel didn’t sound thrilled that his team was so grounded.
‘‘I hope that we throw it more effectively down the road than we did today,’’ Tressel said. ‘‘It just didn’t feel as if we threw and caught and protected as well as we’re going to have to.’’
Wells, out after injuring his right foot in the season-opener, carried 14 times and showed his old form by racing for 28 yards on his second attempt. He also vaulted a potential tackler on another big gainer that should make quite a few highlight shows.
In his second start as a true freshman, Pryor ran for 97 yards on eight carries, scoring on runs of 33 and 1 yard.
‘‘Beanie makes us more confident,’’ Pryor said. ‘‘It takes the pressure off me.’’
Pryor completed 8-of-13 passes for 70 yards, including an 8-yard scoring hookup with Brian Robiskie. He also had a 31-yard touchdown catch from Todd Boeckman, who Pryor replaced as starter a week earlier.
One observer was very impressed.
‘‘He has all the talent in the world,’’ said Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber. ‘‘It’s all about how far he wants to go. It’s pretty amazing to see a true freshman like that come in and do that.’’
In the Big Ten opener for both teams, Ohio State (4-1) tuned up for next Saturday’s showdown at No. 9 Wisconsin. Minnesota (4-1) hoped to prove it had turned things around after last year’s dismal 1-11 mark.
After picking up the 28 yards on his second carry, Wells received a loud ovation from a crowd of 105,175, as if they were telling him, ‘‘Welcome back. We missed you.’’
The Ohio State offense obviously had missed him. In the three games he missed, the running game had been average and the passing game erratic as the Buckeyes were stuffed by then-No. 1 Southern California 35-3 and struggled in wins over Ohio (26-14) and Troy (28-10).
The Buckeyes built a 20-3 halftime lead and never looked back against Minnesota.
On the next play after Wells’ first big run, Pryor kept around the right end on a 33-yard carry, colliding with a tackler at the goal line and falling into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Minnesota, among the national leaders with a +11 in turnover margin, gave up the ball on two consecutive possessions. First Adam Weber threw behind a receiver at the Ohio State 14, directly to Buckeyes cornerback Donald Washington. Then Weber hit tight end Jack Simmons on a 12-yard first-down pass play when a slow whistle resulted in Ohio State safety Anderson Russell stripping the ball away. The play was reviewed but the fumble stood, leading Minnesota coach Tim Brewster to twice wave his arms in anger at the officials.
While Ohio State was piling up a 34-6 lead, Wells took a handoff that was supposed to go up the middle and made a nifty cut at the line to avoid traffic, then rumbled down field and hurdled diving defender Kyle Theret on the way to a 21-yard pickup.
‘‘I tried to tell him he jumped too high,’’ Pryor said with a laugh. ‘‘He’s going to get hurt. But that was a beautiful, beautiful play.’’
Woody would have felt the same way.