KIICHIRO SATO / ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
A methodical changing of the guard is taking place inside the Ohio State offensive huddle.
Just three games into the 2008 season, the Buckeyes are moving into a power-sharing arrangement at quarterback as senior Todd Boeckman relinquishes more of the snaps to freshman Terrelle Pryor.
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel indicated last night that the duo will likely split the playing time in roughly a 50-50 fashion in tomorrow s game with Troy.
As we go into the game and after we review [yesterday s] practice, I think we re still in the thought process that it will be about equal [playing time] in the game, Tressel said. Both of them have done well.
When it came down to big questions the Final Jeopardy portion of the quarterback query Tressel was guarded in his response as to which of the two quarterbacks he will have start the game.
It doesn t matter, and I don t have the answer to that right now, Tressel said. It depends on what we start the game doing, but it doesn t matter. What matters is how we finish.
Tressel said during the Ohio State practices this week, Pryor had taken about 60 percent of the snaps, but the Buckeyes coach indicated that division of duty was based primarily on Boeckman s familiarity with the offense and Pryor s need to develop more awareness of what the Buckeyes are doing.
In the 35-3 loss to top-ranked Southern California on Saturday, Boeckman started the game and played in the more challenging situations and in tougher field position. He faced a furious USC rush and threw two interceptions one of which was returned for a touchdown and fumbled the ball away on a sack.
Boeckman went 14-of-21 passing for 84 yards, while Pryor ran the ball for 40 yards and completed seven of nine passes for 52 yards. Neither had real impressive numbers, but Tressel found Pryor s composure under pressure to be one of the rare positives to come out of the embarrassing defeat.
The thing that I thought was impressive was that Terrelle, from a composure standpoint . . . you wouldn t have thought that was a freshman out there, Tressel said.
Tressel said his evaluation criteria for Pryor remain the same, regardless of which role he assumes in the quarterback s club.
It s nothing different than what we ve talked to him about from day one, Tressel said. Our expectations, above all others, are these for our quarterbacks: You make good plays, big plays, and you make good decisions, and you don t turn the ball over. And that s how they are evaluated.
Now, we re going to evaluate your footwork, and we re going to evaluate how you carry out your fakes, and we re going to evaluate every little thing, but not how we re going to evaluate what we call the big three. And that hasn t changed.
Senior linebacker James Laurinaitis said although the rest of the team is certainly aware of the quarterback situation, nobody is taking sides and everyone is behind whatever decision Tressel makes.
He wants to do whatever is best for the team, and all of us trust coach and his decisions, Laurinaitis said. Whether that s playing Todd as the starter and playing him the whole time, or whether that s Terrelle the whole time, or a little bit of both, we support him.
Tressel said his preference has always been to settle in with one quarterback taking the majority of the snaps, but the competition will have to sort that out.
Usually, one guy rises above another, Tressel said. If that rare circumstance happens where, you know what, they re dead even then you go with the seniority.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.