Because spring is a time for optimism.
Ohio State's offense last year, like pretty much every year under Jim Tressel, was overwhelmingly the variety of straight-ahead trench warfare you'd expect from a sweatervest aficionado with a taste for vanilla and a 235-pound bruiser lining up behind a true freshman quarterback. You know, that's Tresselball.
But without the big back, and with a sophomore quarterback, things might be a little more flexible, according to the Canton Repository:
Although Tressel didn’t come right out and say as much during his trip through Canton last week, it isn’t hard to picture Terrelle Pryor running some variation of a Wildcat offense or even more work with the pistol formation.
Tressel seemed smitten when talk of the Wildcat offense came up during a visit with Hoover High School head coach Don Hertler Jr. and former Newark Catholic head coach J.D. Graham. The three talked shop for about two hours at a North Canton eatery.
In reporterspeak, "He didn't come out and say it" (like "to be sure") is code for, "He didn't say anything interesting and I'm on deadline and this sounds plausible." But, in fact, it does seem plausible that OSU will spread things out for Pryor's benefit next year, much as the Buckeyes did for Troy Smith as a senior (although for more pass-oriented purposes) or, maybe more relevantly, as Texas did for Pryor's ancestral spirit guide, Vince Young. For those of us who see Pryor as VY Jr., a spread/spread option philosophy -- I don't think "Wildcat" is the right term here, systematically -- built around his effortless lope is a compelling vision. We got a glimpse of it last year, sporadically, and this being March, it's well within the scope of appropriate speculation -- Tressel has reportedly been commiserating as well with very non-vanilla schemers Jim Grobe and Gary Pinkel. Young Terrelle may yet be set free.
There's no talk of Pryor reprising his brief Fiesta Bowl stint as a wide receiver, but elsewhere in the conference, Indiana is slightly more desperate: The Hoosiers are permanently moving three-year starting quarterback Kellen Lews to wide receiver, just as they moved QB Antwaan Randle El outside as a senior in 2001. Ben Chappell will take over full time after splitting time last year, when Lewis was among the most disappointing quarterbacks in the country -- his touchdowns declined from 28 in 2007 to six, his efficiency rating fell almost 20 points and he didn't play at all in IU's only Big Ten win, over Northwestern.
Chappell wasn't much better as a passer, really, but this being Indiana, Bill Lynch can't afford to keep one of his best athletes on the bench for half the game, and Lewis has a better chance to catch on at receiver (uh, no pun intended). According to the scouts, though, as well as the numbers, that's where the comparison to Randle El ends.