Guiton Takes No. 2 QB Spot
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Quarterback controversy is nothing new at Ohio State.
The Buckeyes dealt with it in 2004, 2008 and again early in the 2011 season, but it isn’t often a team has a “backup” quarterback controversy.
Yet that is where Luke Fickell and his staff found themselves after senior Joe Bauserman was forced into the Nebraska game when Braxton Miller injured his ankle.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Miller—who took over as the starter for Bauserman after the Miami game—returned to the lineup last week against Illinois, but the Buckeyes had to rethink their contingency plan if something were to happen to Miller again.
If there is a next time, it will be Kenny Guiton’s turn.
“I would say he would be the first guy to go in the game,” OSU Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman said after Wednesday’s practice.
Guiton was actually warming up on the sideline during Nebraska’s final clock-killing drive, but by then it was too late. The damage had already been done.
With Miller making his third career start at Memorial Stadium, the Buckeyes suddenly looked like a real offense again. They had built up a 21-point lead in their first Big Ten road game of the year and the Cornhuskers were playing on their heals.
Even after Miller’s fumble gave Nebraska its first touchdown of the game, Ohio State still looked to be firmly in control.
Photo by Jim Davidson
That all changed when Bauserman entered the game. The senior completed only one of his 10 pass attempts as the Buckeyes failed to gain a single first down in the fourth quarter of their 34-27 collapse.
At the time, it looked like anyone would have been a better solution than Bauserman—who had a similar performance in the team’s 24-6 loss at Miami—but Guiton wasn’t handed the backup job simply because he was the lesser of two evils.
“It’s not a default by any means,” Fickell said Thursday before practice.
“Kenny’s done a great job. His ability to have some energy and continue to fight throughout everything to get better, his ability to jump in on special teams, this game is a game of emotions. You want people out there who have emotion and can give you something.”
That is what the Buckeyes are hoping they have in Guiton, who seems to be a favorite amongst his teammates. The redshirt sophomore out of Aldine, Tex. was a last-minute addition to Ohio State’s class of 2009.
He was their fourth option behind Tajh Boyd and a handful of others who decided to sign elsewhere. Guiton was the No. 35-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country by Rivals.com, who only ranked the top 35.
But the Buckeyes have seen enough out of Guiton since he arrived three years ago to believe that he is finally ready to contribute if they need him.
“I guess you would have to say that and he’s done a good job working at it and improving and taking advantage of an opportunity,” Bollman said of the former Eisenhower High School standout.
“A lot of good movement and steadily improving in the athletic part.”
That is where Guiton can really help the Buckeyes, who have watched opposing defenses completely change their game plan when Bauserman is in the game. They were not of afraid of his arm or his legs, and while they may not fear Guiton much more, he will at least allow Ohio State to continue running most of the same plays they run with Miller.
That being said, Fickell isn’t ready to rule out the possibility they could need Bauserman to step up and contribute again at some point this season.
“There’s still a plan for both of those guys. Both have a role, and I think whatever is needed they are all willing to do,” he said Thursday.
“If that’s what it comes to, we’ll be comfortable with Kenny going in there,” Fickell said. “If it happened to be Joe, we’ll be comfortable with Joe going in there. The key is knowing what they can do.”
The real key will be keeping Miller healthy.
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