Welcome to the Trobuckalypse: Terrelle Pryor, pterodactyl edition


Daily headlines, notes and errata in anticipation of the Intersectional Game of the Decade of the Year.

No. 2 on No. 2. Truly elite athletes have a unique insight into one another’s psyches and physicality that goes far beyond the slack-jawed, pedestrian awe of those us wiping tortilla chip crumbs from our shirts. So when USC’s superfreak safety, Taylor Mays, describes Ohio State’s superfreak quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, as a flying reptile of the late Triassic and Cretaceous

"He’s tall and long, like a pterodactyl," Mays said, referring to the prehistoric winged bird.

— it’s best not to ask questions and just trust the natural connection that exists between physical absurdities. (Although technically, Taylor, I think you mean pterosaur, unless you’re referring specifically to a member of the suborder Pterodactyloidea, a distinction appreciated by pterosaur linguist Arian Foster. And I’m sure that you — unlike the L.A. Times, apparently — realize that the species in question could hardly be a bird, since it lived before the first birds or any other vertebrates capable of powered flight. I’m not even going to start on the redundant adjective "winged" here. This is what happens when you fire half your copydesk, Times.)

Turning Barkley into Boeckman. SC quarterback Matt Barkley turned 19 Tuesday, and celebrated by inviting 100,000 noisy Ohio State fans to "bring it on." The freshman is confident he can handle his first road start in one of the toughest environments in the country, but even old, grizzled Buckeyes are smelling blood in the water:

"I think the thing that’s different for a freshman coming in here is the crowd and the blitzing," former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce said Tuesday. "And the hitting him right in the chin. If we don’t hit that kid real hard on the first series, then we haven’t gone after the quarterback. You have to attack him. You have to take his confidence away and put him on the defensive a little bit thinking about it.

"You’ve got to rattle him, make him unsure of what’s happening. If this would happen to him, if he would have an interception for a touchdown on the second series of the game and get hit at the same time so hard his teeth chatter, he will be dubious from there on in."

A game-changing interception that rattles the quarterback early and makes him dubious for there on? Where might Coach Bruce have concocted such a template? I wonder …

Barkley is not untouchable: He was sacked once in the first quarter against San Jose State with the score still 0-0, and backup Aaron Corp was sacked in the second half of that game. But the Buckeyes only got to Mark Sanchez once in last year’s game and are still waiting for the emergence of a consistent pass rusher — i.e. hitting the kid at any point is going to take a heavy dose of blitzing.

Do I have to show that clip again? On the complete opposite end of the "freshman confidence" spectrum, excitable Ohio State noobs looking forward to the big game have had to take a crash course in pessimism:

After the Buckeyes beat Navy 31-27 Saturday, several freshmen were perplexed and came to Worthington with questions:

We won, didn’t we? We’ve got an awesome game coming up this week with Southern California, right? So what’s with all the negativity around town?

As a fifth-year senior and grizzled veteran of many similar experiences, Worthington only chuckled and filled them in on what to expect from the Ohio State faithful.

Forgive the kids if they don’t know much about the Buckeyes’ five-game losing streak against other top-10 teams: Jim Tressel, known for using past failure as motivation before previous big games, hasn’t brought up last year’s game and seems pretty intent to avoid referencing anything about the ’08 catastrophe if he can help it. The new mantra is "stay in the moment." And if that moment happens to be one of dispiriting physical humiliation, just move on to the next one.

Tale of the Tape of the Day. The Chose One vs. The Chosen One.

The numbers never lie: Somebody’s having his breakout/justify-the-hype game Saturday night, but I defy you to guess who.

Plausible Scenario of the Day. USC creates a turnover for an early touchdown and the stadium groans with a sense of "Here we go again …" The Buckeyes respond with a field goal, but are kept off balance by the Trojans’ balanced offense and fail to put any significant pressure on Barkley, who shakes off a slow start for a pair of touchdown drives in the second quarter, including one right before the half that puts SC up three scores at the break. Demoralized, the Buckeyes fail to score again until late in the fourth quarter and go down to another disastrous defeat as Barkley emerges as the next superstar quarterback.

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Previous editions of the Trobuckalypse: Tuesday.

Kyle Bunch

Partnerships for R/GA Ventures. Raised in California, adopted by Texas. Opinions expressed here are mine and they are fantastic.

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