Most Important Buckeyes: No. 17
By Tony Gerdeman
Photo by Jim Davidson
When it comes to importance on the football field, the first man that comes to mind is the starting quarterback. Everything begins right there. However, when you have a quarterback who carries the ball as much as Braxton Miller, the backup quarterback becomes very important as well.
Kenny Guiton appearing on this list should be no surprise to anybody who watched the Buckeyes last season. He played in nine of the team's 12 games last year, and most of his snaps were far from garbage time.
Everybody remembers his Purdue performance a year ago, and well they should. But do you remember him running three plays on the opening drive against Michigan State, finishing off a touchdown drive? Or when he came into the Nebraska game with Ohio State trailing 17-7 for two snaps. He also ended that drive in a touchdown. Remember his shovel pass to Carlos Hyde for a touchdown in the third quarter against Indiana?
Of the 15 drives that Guiton either started himself or finished off for Miller, eight of them ended in touchdowns. That's the type of experience that every coach wants their backup to have, and yet hopes they never have to give.
What Makes Him Important
Sometimes when a person runs 70 yards in a football game, they need a breather. Sometimes when a player carries a football 20 times, they get dinged up. Sometimes both of those players are Braxton Miller, and that's where Kenny Guiton comes in.
Guiton is important simply because of the nature with which Miller plays the game. Spinning, juking, jumping, jiving, it can all lead to an unexpected hit that removes Miller from a game for a period of time. When it does, Guiton is right there to calm the huddle down and keep the message positive.
There's a reason why his coaches call him Coach Kenny. He knows the offense, but his teammates also look up to him. They respect him, and that's not something that you can say about every backup quarterback.
When Guiton steps into a huddle, he commands it. He's a natural fit. That's not true for all backups, who sometimes don't speak unless spoken to.
What Can Be Expected Of Him
You can expect to see Guiton on the field quite a bit because his coaches will want to reward him. Though everyone associated with the program is obviously hoping for fewer relief appearances due to Braxton Miller being sent to the hospital.
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman will be working with Guiton and the rest of the quarterbacks every day, and Herman will be perfectly fine with running his offense with Guiton at QB.
He may not throw more than 30 passes this season, but you can expect a few of them to come in crucial situations. Herman won't be trying to hide Guiton like some coaches may do with their backup, he'll be pushing him to produce.
You can expect Guiton to be a leader of this team. You'll be able to see him on the sideline talking to teammates after every drive. He will be in every ear. And then when he is called upon to lead the team, his teammates will be absolutely accustomed to listening to his words, and following will come easy.
What Would the Buckeyes Do Without Him
If the Buckeyes didn't have Kenny Guiton to rely on, they'd be looking at redshirt freshman Cardale Jones, and true freshman J.T. Barrett to be there in Miller's absence.
Everybody loves the potential of both of the freshmen, but does anybody expect them to stand in the pocket as calmly as Guiton did last year on the two-point conversion pass against Purdue?
There would be talent on the field without Guiton, but would the timing be there? Would the understanding of the offense, and the understanding of the opponent's defense be there? Very unlikely, and there's absolutely zero chance that Herman's trust is there the way it is with Miller and Guiton.
After all, it's doubtful that we'll be seeing any of the OSU coaches calling Jones or Barrett "Coach", anytime soon.
A backup quarterback like Guiton is a luxury that most teams don't have. They simply have a guy that will eventually be the starter, but isn't yet ready for the bright lights.
Kenny Guiton, on the other hand, has already played under the bright lights, and a couple of times has outshined them.
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