Guiton Finding His Place in Meyer's World
By Tony Gerdeman
The moment was fitting, even if it didn't seem like it.
Minutes before Ohio State's Spring Game was to get underway, Urban Meyer gathered his team together at midfield and had them get in formation for a “circle drill”.
The drill pits one player against another, usually offense versus defense. The whistle blows and the two players come crashing together, each looking for an advantage that the other is fighting not to give.
This time, however, instead of just offense against defense, it was Scarlet against Gray. In April in Columbus, that's an uncivil war if ever there was one.
There was offense against defense, offense against offense and defense against defense. Brothers fighting brothers, regardless of position.
There was also quarterback versus quarterback.
Braxton Miller against Kenny Guiton. The starter versus the backup. The Ohioan born-and-bred against the Texas carpetbagger.
A backup quarterback is supposed to know his place, and his place is a peculiar one. He needs to understand that he might not play because there is somebody better in front of him, but he also has to be ready to play at a moment's notice, and play well.
It's like standing at the ready for a fire drill that may never come. But when an actual fire hits, you better be able to get 350 employees out of a four-story building in under three minutes without exception, even if you've never done it before.
That moment's notice for Guiton came in the circle drill when Meyer summoned his two quarterbacks to meet on the rubberized sands of the arena. As they crossed paths to take their respective spots, Miller gave Guiton a stiff shoulder—probably to remind him of his place, just in case he had forgotten.
Guiton shook it off. No big deal. Just the life of a backup quarterback, apparently.
As the two quarterbacks began to size eachother up, the crowd sensed the rarity of such a moment, and their excitement fell in line with the players who encircled the combatants.
Teammates were jumping around. Coaches were jumping even higher. Miller and Guiton could barely contain themselves.
Nobody standing between them, this would be a chance for Guiton to get some momentum for his teammates. That's what quarterbacks do, after all.
There was no whistle to begin the battle, rather just a Mills Lane-ian “Let's get it on!” in its place.
The two signal callers shot towards eachother like they were two halves of the same outstretched rubber band.
The collision was immediate, and so was the advantage. Guiton drove Miller backwards at a healthy pace. This was not Braxton Miller's comfort zone.
Finally, the backup quarterback was putting the starter in a place that he was unfamiliar with. The tables had turned, and a few of the chairs had gone with them as well.
Guiton continued to drive Miller into a backpedal, and then just as quickly as Guiton's advantage was gained, it was gone. Miller flipped his hips, used Guiton's own momentum against himself, and put the Texan on his back, ending the drill.
That's the life of a backup quarterback. Compete like hell only to have the guy in front of you throw you down at the last minute and then stare over top of you like he just caught you eyeballing something that you mistakenly thought was yours.
It's really no surprise, then, that this is exactly how the game played out as well.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller's Scarlet team got out to a quick 10-0 lead, and Kenny Guiton's Gray squad had to fight and claw to stay in the mix.
Then finally in the closing seconds of the third quarter, Guiton led his team to a 22-yard touchdown drive, capped by his own four-yard run for the tying score. An extra point from Drew Basil made it 14-13, and gave Guiton and Gray their first lead of the day.
For the second time that afternoon Guiton had put pressure on Miller to perform.
Looking back at the way their first contest began and ended, obviously this was a game that Guiton wanted to win. It wouldn't just be a feather in his cap, it would be the entire bird.
In the earlier battle, Guiton surged to the lead early and then succumbed late. Here, however, he was about to do the opposite, and gain a victory over the Ohio State starting quarterback to boot.
But then a funny thing happened—Braxton Miller led the Scarlet on a game-winning eight-play 65-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter's final minutes.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Guiton had his chance after that, of course. He drove his team 49 of the necessary 65 yards before throwing an interception to Christian Bryant at the two-yard line to seal the Gray team's fate.
That's the world of the backup. So close to the brass ring, only to see another hand reach past and snatch it for themselves. Accustomed to failure, yet still prepared for success.
Kenny Guiton knows that he is Urban Meyer's backup quarterback. But that doesn't mean he has to act like it.
That's why Meyer pitted his two quarterbacks against eachother in the circle drill, as well as the game. Leaders never defer in one-on-one battles, and neither quarterback deferred for an instant.
Combined with Guiton's overall performance on Saturday, completing 11-14 passes for 121 yards in the second half alone, the Buckeyes look like they might have two reliable quarterbacks.
So yes, Kenny Guiton knows his place, and it looks quite a bit like that of a leader.
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