What to do with Kenny and Jordan

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Last updated: 10/02/2013 11:40 AM
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Football
Thinking Out Loud: What to do With Kenny, Jordan Hall's New Role
By Brandon Castel

Does Urban Meyer owe anything to Kenny Guiton?

That was a question I faced a number of times on Sunday after watching Braxton Miller take every snap at quarterback Saturday night against Wisconsin.

Braxton Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

Of course Miller is Ohio State's starting quarterback, or at least he was before the knee injury. I can't remember a preseason Heisman Trophy favorite ever losing his starting job because of injury, not to mention the fact Miller has been the team's starting QB for most of the last three seasons. He led the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record a year ago and he's on pace to re-write most of the record books in Columbus.

Keeping him on the bench in favor of Guiton - a fifth-year senior who looked like an All-American during most of the nonconference schedule - simply wasn't an option.

Not for Urban Meyer, not for anyone.

Nor should it have been.

As good as Guiton looked against San Diego State, Cal and Florida A&M - and I think we can all agree he looked better than any of us could have really imagined - this was a different atmosphere on Saturday night.

Wisconsin came in ready to play, with every intention of knocking off the Buckeyes in their home stadium, and Meyer wasn't going to go into battle against one of the few teams on the schedule capable of beating his team without his best player.

Kenny Guiton
Photo by Jim Davidson
Kenny Guition

In spite of what Guiton did over that three-game stretch, the best player on this football team is still the guy wearing No. 5 for the offense.

That's coming from a big Kenny Guiton fan. I have been ever since he got Ohio State and have often mentioned how great it would be for a kid with his personality and demeanor to get a chance to be Ohio State's starting quarterback.

Every teammate I have ever spoken to about Guiton has raved about him as a person, and now we know he's a pretty darn good football player to boot.

But he's still not Braxton Miller, and while it might be true Guiton looked a little more polished throwing the football down the field, it's a healthy Braxton Miller that gives Ohio State its best chance to be a legitimate national championship contender.

So where does that leave Guiton? Well, for starters, the Buckeyes are almost certainly going to need him again at some point. Probably soon. History suggests Braxton Miller is not going to make it through the rest of this season unscathed, but the good news now is that he doesn't have to.

This team knows it can win games with either quarterback on the field, and that is a unique kind of confidence, but it brings me back to my original question: Does Urban Meyer owe anything to Kenny Guiton? The obvious answer has to be no. Meyer can't possible worry about rewarding Guiton for a job well done by putting him on the field if he feels Braxton Miller gives this team a better chance to win, but part of me is disappointed by that reality.

Meyer is one of the few coaches in college football with enough imagination to figure out a way to involve both of his quarterbacks - maybe not at the same time, but possibly - in a way that could make the Buckeyes even more dangerous.

They don't need it now. If the Buckeyes lose on Saturday it's not going to be because Meyer didn't figure out a way to use both of his quarterbacks, but this is a guy who has made a name for himself figuring out ways to get his best playmakers involved. It's hard for me to think Kenny Guiton isn't one of those guys right now.

Understanding Jordan Hall's New Role

Jordan Hall
Photo by Jim Davidson
Jordan Hall

The same could be said for Jordan Hall, who suddenly went from touchdown-scoring tailback to towel-waving spectator on Saturday.

I tend to believe Urban Meyer and Tom Herman when they say they weren't intentionally leaving Jordan Hall out of the game plan against Wisconsin on Saturday. I also don't think it was an accident they felt more comfortable giving the ball to Carlos Hyde in a big game with a somewhat limited Braxton Miller running the offense.

Hyde is the rock. As good as Jordan Hall was the first three weeks of the season - and he was pretty darn good - Hyde is the kind of guy every coach dreams of having. He's got power, he's got speed, but more importantly they know exactly what they're going to get when they give him the football.

He wasn't tremendously spectacular against the Badgers. In fact, he probably had a better game last year in Madison, but he gave them that element of toughness and physicality to match what Wisconsin was trying to do.

Not every team in the Big Ten is going to be as physical as the Badgers, but the league certainly lends itself more to Hyde's style of running than it does to Hall's. Yet here's a guy averaging over six yards per carry with eight touchdowns this season who got to touch the football one time on offense Saturday night.

I will admit, I wasn't sure Hall could be all that effective as a true tailback. He had never quite shown the playmaking ability we kept hearing about, but that all changed this season. Hall has impressed me as a running back, especially with his shiftiness in traffic. He has finally shown that ability to slip through tackles and while I still believe Carlos Hyde has to be this team's starting tailback going forward, I also believe there has to be a role for Jordan Hall.

Harkening back to what we talked about with Miller and Guiton, I would be a little disappointed with Meyer if he couldn't find a way to get both Hyde and Hall involved at the same time. In fact, it's not really even comparable to Miller and Guiton at all. There are so many ways Meyer can use a guy like Hall that really the only question is where and when. Hall was originally slated to play the H-back position in the spring, but as my colleague Patrick Murphy points out today, freshman Dontre Wilson is already on pace to be one of the best.

Wilson is averaging 13.2 yards per touch this season, so it's probably likely Meyer is looking for more ways to get Wilson the football, not fewer. Back on National Signing Day, Meyer mentioned the idea of having a few "make you miss" guys out there at the same time, so they could certainly get creative with using Hyde, Wilson and Hall at the same time, but then Meyer has to take a guy like Philly Brown, Devin Smith or Evan Spencer off the field. Spencer is playing his best football right now and the same goes for wideout Chris Fields and tight end Jeff Heuerman.

There are a lot of weapons for Meyer to choose from right now, but only a couple of them have more upside than Hall, who should be more involved in the offense this week - one way or another.  

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