Buckeyes Almost Turned to Guiton, Still May
By Brandon Castel
LINCOLN, Neb. — With four minutes left in Ohio State’s game at Nebraska Saturday night, Kenny Guiton finally removed his headset.
After spending nearly all of the first six games as a token clipboard holder behind Braxton Miller and Joe Bauserman, Guiton began warming up on the sideline with receiver Philly Brown as the Buckeyes tried desperately to get one last stop on defense.
They had already blown a 21-point lead in the second half and the defense was gassed. The Buckeyes had gotten nothing out of Bauserman since he took over for Braxton Miller after he was helped off the field with an ankle injury, and they were desperate for any kind of a spark that might swing even the slightest bit of momentum back in their favor.
“We were thinking about that. It all depended on how much time was on the clock and what the situation was going to be,” Ohio State Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman said of putting Guiton in the game.
“Had we stopped them and got it back with about three minutes, he might have had a chance to do something with his feet. We were talking about it.”
That was the problem. There was too much talk and not enough action.
When Braxton Miller was in the game, the Buckeyes looked like a team that could play with anyone in the Big Ten. They gained 246 yards of offense in the first half and built up a 27-6 third-quarter lead on the road against a team that was favored by double-digits.
Without him, the Buckeyes crumbled under the raindrops at Memorial Stadium.
“I thought it obviously helped us that Miller went out,” Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini said.
“I think their game plan was built around him. That kid was playing a heck of a game. I give him a lot of credit. I hope he's OK.”
Miller was having the best game of his young career Saturday night, and he finally looked like the field general who made plays with so much ease as a four-year starter at Wayne High School.
He was closing in on 100 yards on the ground and did enough through the air (5-of-8 passing for 95 yards and a touchdown) to keep the Cornhuskers defense on its heels.
Even the play where he fumbled was really a better play by Lavonte David than it was a careless one by Miller. He had just picked up a key first down on 3rd-and-5 when David reached in and ripped it away with pure strength.
After Miller left the game with an ankle injury in the third quarter, the Buckeyes managed only 31 yards and two first downs the rest of the game—one on a sliding catch by Philly Brown and another on a twisting push by Carlos Hyde on 3rd-and-3.
“Well, you can’t blame that on Joe. That’s a tough situation for anyone to go in,” Bollman said of his senior quarterback.
“You can’t just evaluate him, there’s a lot of things to evaluate. There was one time I know we got beat on the right side, he got rushed a little bit and took a pretty good shot. I think for the most part his protection was good, but I don’t know what was open down the field or what should have been going on.”
The fourth quarter was a re-run of the Miami (Fla.) game, only this time Bauserman was working with a 14-point lead instead of a 14-point deficit. He came in after the injury to Miller on second down and immediately threw the ball out of bounds on 3rd-and-8.
He completed only one of his 10 passes over the final quarter-and-a-half as the Buckeye offense fluttered under the night sky like a Bauserman pass heading for the sideline.
They went 3-and-out on their final three drives of the game and did not pick up a first down in the final 14 minutes, primarily because Bauserman could not throw the ball within the white lines without finding a Nebraska defender.
“That’s probably unfair to say right now. He came in there and certainly he played tough, I thought he played with courage,” Bollman said after the game.
“A couple things he just missed. He just missed the long throw that got picked off. That was really close to being a big gain.”
Only it wasn’t that close.
With the score tied at 27 and the clock winding down in the fourth quarter, Bauserman checked into a deep ball on 2nd-and-six at the Ohio State 37 yard line. Philly Brown got behind the defenders and might have scored on a well-thrown ball.
Instead Bauserman lofted it right into the outstretched arms of cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste at the Nebraska 22-yard line. The Cornhuskers immediately drove the length of the field for the game-winning touchdown on a 17-yard run by Rex Burkhead.
All the while, Braxton Miller was watching from the sideline. If that’s where he is next week against Illinois, the Buckeyes will have no choice but to consider starting Guiton against the Fighting Illini.
“Oh, we have to. We don’t have any choice,” Bollman said.
“Joe and Kenny would be the guys.”
That is the scary part.
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