Brandon Castel - - The Guy Behind the Guy

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Last updated: 08/11/2012 1:36 PM

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The Guy Behind the Guy
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kenny Guiton may not be “the guy” at Ohio State, but in Urban Meyer’s offense, the “guy behind the guy” can often be just as important.

Without a capable and confident backup to run his system, Meyer would be hesitant to let Braxton Miller do the things he does best; which often means putting his body on the line as he slips between two linebackers who are trying to take off his head.

“There is a huge concern,” Meyer said of putting his quarterback at risk.

Kenny Guiton
Photo by Dan Harker
Kenny Guiton

“But it’s the same concern you would have in an I-formation tailback offense. You hand him the ball 30 times and what happens if he sprains his ankle?”

The Buckeyes actually found out the answer to the question back in 2008 when tailback Beanie Wells went down before the USC game. Ohio State’s entire offense was predicated around getting the ball to Beanie, and it showed in OSU’s 35-3 loss to the Trojans.

Beanie’s injury was hardly the only reason the Buckeyes lost that game—they couldn’t do much of anything right after settling for a field goal on the opening drive—but it demonstrates the importance one key player can play in an offense.

That is especially true of a quarterback in Meyer’s system, which often asks the triggerman to do a little of everything when his team has the ball.

“The one thing about our offense, you can’t have a bad quarterback. And the quarterback can’t have a bad day or you’ll lose,” Meyer said flatly.

“Some offenses turn around and hand the ball off, that doesn’t happen. We’ll do that a little bit this year, we’ve got some plays in, but there’s a lot of games where the quarterback has to make a read every play, 80 snaps. I don’t think there is any other offense that does that.”

Maybe Oregon, but even the Ducks aren’t quite as reliant on a quarterback who can put pressure on the defense every snap of the game. Maybe that’s why Meyer places such an emphasis on  his quarterbacks getting ‘mental reps’ in practice.

“Sometimes if you’re on the sideline, he’ll ask you ‘what’s the play, who’s your read, did he make the right decision,’” Guiton said of his head coach.

“So you always have to be ready with coach Meyer.”

The first time he got hit with that question, Guiton balked. He was used to drifting off when he wasn’t running the offense. Meyer could see it in his eyes.

“I know I need to always be ready,” said Guiton, who seems to have matured more in one offseason than his first three years at OSU combined.

“I know Coach Meyer has used two quarterbacks in his system, and that’s something we’ve talked about. I’m trying to work hard and let him recognize that I can do that.”

According to Meyer, Guiton is one player who has “done a 180” since the new staff took over in January. Part of that might be attributed to the coaching he’s received from Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman, but Guiton also needed to get his mind right after last season.

“Last year I just wasn’t…I was into football and everything, but I had Braxton come in and he did a great job during the season,” Guiton said after Friday morning’s practice.

“Maybe I was a little down and maybe he saw it. Maybe I didn’t even know. It was good having him come in. I think he got the best of me, especially in the spring. Then telling me what I need to work on over the summer.”

One thing Meyer and his staff wanted Guiton to work on over the summer was his velocity. He’s always been accurate with the football, but it was taking too long for his ball to find the hands of a receiver in the open field.

“I focused on that all summer long,” he said.

Kenny Guiton checks into the team hotel.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Kenny Guiton

“Coach Mick (Marotti) helped me out on that all summer long. I’ve tried my best to work on my velocity. It’s about getting your legs into it. I’ve been working on that and keeping my legs under me and not get outside my frame with the ball.”

Guiton also knew had to work on his leadership, because there is no grace period for a backup quarterback if something happens to the starter.

“My biggest improvement has been coming out and having leadership with the team,” he said.

“I’m an older guy and I have guys looking up to me. I have to lead.”

That was something Braxton Miller learned a year ago when he was thrust into action as a freshman in front of a hostile crowd down in Miami. Though he looked shaky that night, Miller eventually settled into his role as the starting quarterback.

It’s a role Guiton is still eyeing almost a year later.

“Every day I’m coming to work,” he said.

“I’m coming to try to get the starting job. That’s one thing I’m going to always push for. That’s the reason I came here, to try to play.”

If history is any type of indicator, he will get that chance; eventually.


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