Bucks Sticking with Two QBs Despite Bauserman’s Success
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — What once was a friendly competition between Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller may soon become an even friendlier alliance.
The two quarterbacks were listed as co-starters for the season-opener against Akron, but it was clear from the opening drive that Bauserman had won the starting job over his freshman counterpart.
celebrates his touchdown against Akron
Photo by Dan Harker
The school’s fifth-year senior looked poised and sharp in his first career start. He threw three touchdown passes to tight end Jake Stoneburner and ran for another, but Miller also had a good day in relief of Bauserman.
“We know we're going to need them both,” Luke Fickell said after his first victory as the head coach at Ohio State.
“We're just going to give them all the ability to put them in situations and see how they handle it, and still continue to let them compete. They know we have confidence in them, but they're willing to work together and we'll see how it grows.”
If it really exists, that willingness to work together could allow the Buckeyes to continue using both quarterbacks throughout the season. Bauserman showed off his arm Saturday—not to mention some slippery footwork—but there is no debating the kind of spark Miller can add to the offense with his athleticism.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“They both played great,” starting left guard Jack Mewhort said.
“I don't see a lot of what goes on back there because they're behind me, but just looking at the stats, Joe played great and Braxton played great for a freshman. So it's really exciting for the season.”
Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman said the Buckeyes would have liked to get Miller more time in the first half than just his three plays—which didn’t go so well—but unforeseen circumstances led them to stick with Bauserman.
Especially with the way he was playing.
“It was kind of an usual situation. We were going down there and then we fumbled going in, and that kind stifled some momentum a little bit,” Bollman said of redshirt freshman Rod Smith’s fumble inside the five yard line.
“Then we went ahead and put Braxton in and we had some errors, a couple of which were not Braxton's fault. We just felt like we needed to get back into synch again, which we did, then got Braxton some pretty good action in the second half, so it was good.”
The first error was a dropped pass by tight end Reid Fragel and then OSU’s All-American center Michael Brewster rolled a snap back to Miller—who was in the shotgun—because his hands were sweating so much in the 125 degree heat.
With the way Bauserman was distributing the football, Miller wouldn’t see the field again until the second half.
“In my experience in the past things work best when you let things evolve like that,” Bollman said.
“You give seniors a chance. You let younger guys do things when they're ready to do things. We're kind of right in the middle of that and both guys are doing a good job.”
With both of them seeing their first real action at the college level, the two quarterbacks combined to complete 20 of their 28 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns Saturday. They also combined for 62 yards on the ground without taking a single sack or turning the ball over once.
“Coach is telling me all the time, no turnovers and make good decisions,” Miller said of Fickell.
“He says that every day before we have meetings. So I was like, 'Man, I'm not gonna make any bad decisions. No turnovers at all'.”
Considering how well they both played in the opener, it might be hard for Fickell and his staff to commit to playing just one guy going forward. Clearly Bauserman separated himself as the one who is ready to lead this team, but Miller also showed that he is ready to play at this level.
“You could see some of his talent, you could certainly see some of his athleticism,” Bollman said.
“He threw some good balls and a couple of guys made some pretty good catches.”
Keeping Miller on the bench after the way he looked against Akron would be a tough choice for the staff, but maybe they won’t have to.
“Those guys work great together,” Fickell said.
“They're not going to be distracted by the things that are outside and all the outside influences”
If the Buckeyes can find a way to use both of them without rocking the boat or creating controversy at the most critical position, they might be better for it.
Fickell seems to think the 1996 team was, but not everyone would agree with him. Either way, this team seems to have two capable quarterbacks, at least for the moment.
“We know we need them both,” Fickell said.
“And I think that's the most important thing.”
Box Score and Statistics
Ten Things We Learned in Fickell's First Victory - by Brandon Castel
The Buckeye Watch - by Tony Gerdeman
Stoneburner's Big Day was Years in the Making - by Brandon Castel
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