- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 5, 2009

At no other time in college football history has there been so much value in a dual-threat quarterback as today.

With the growing popularity of the spread offense and the caliber of athletes improving every year, hybrid signal-callers are coveted by nearly every major-conference team.

Navy will get a firsthand look at perhaps the country’s most dangerous example - Ohio State’s Terrelle Pryor - in its season opener Saturday. The 6-foot-6, 235-pound sophomore has run the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds and can burn a defense just as easily with his arm.

“He looks like Usain Bolt in pads,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “He’s bigger than anybody on our defense and faster than anybody on our team. I’ve been petitioning to the NCAA that we can play 13 [defenders], but they haven’t gotten back to me.”

Even more daunting for the Midshipmen is that Pryor figures to be even better than he was last year. He was the consensus top recruit in 2008 and quickly replaced senior Todd Boeckman as the starter. He made an immediate impact, going 9-1 as a starter and racking up 1,311 yards and 12 touchdowns passing to go with 631 yards and six scores rushing on his way to being named the Big Ten freshman of the year.

With a year’s experience under his belt and an entire offseason to study the offense, Pryor is expected to be even more dangerous in 2009. He relied on his all-world athleticism last year and now has an enhanced mental game at his exposure. Coach Jim Tressel said Pryor is “way ahead” of where he was last year with his fundamentals.

And with Boeckman out of the picture, Pryor is the unquestioned leader of the sixth-ranked Buckeyes.

“I think he had a very difficult situation last year where he was pressed into service and he was replacing a senior captain and [had to deal with] the emotional part that goes along with that,” Tressel said. “Terrelle’s one of those young people that he doesn’t want anyone to feel bad. It’s not always that way and that was I thought very difficult emotionally for him. So I think it’s a lot easier for him to step into the role that he has now.”

Pryor isn’t the only quarterback causing concerns in the season opener.

Ohio State feverishly studied film to prepare for the Mids’ vaunted triple option, but what stood out to the Buckeyes was quarterback Ricky Dobbs’ arm strength. That adds another wrinkle to preparing for the unconventional attack.

“He can keep us honest,” Ohio State safety Russell Anderson said. “While we do have to focus on the option a lot because that’s their main attack obviously, with him having such a good arm back there, it’s something that’s going to force us to be disciplined so we don’t fall asleep on the pass.”

Even with plenty of time to prepare for the triple option, Tressel said he is concerned that Navy’s live version could catch his team off-guard.

“I’m not sure there’s ever enough time,” he said. “The hard part is emulating it. No one does it with the speed and tenacity of Navy.”

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