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Miller to start but Guiton on deck for OSU PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:27 AM

Associated Press

 

COLUMBUS — A lot of top college teams have trouble finding one quality quarterback.

No. 4 Ohio State has two.

The problem for Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is he can only play one at a time and both have played well enough to start.

Braxton Miller, back from an injured knee, will get the starting nod against No. 23 Wisconsin on Saturday night, Meyer said after Wednesday’s practice.

“I think Braxton will probably start. He had a good day today and it looks like he’s pretty close to 100 percent,” Meyer said. “I just wanted to make sure running the ball he’s good, too. And he was. And Kenny’s good.”

Then he voiced the problem that is clearly bothering him.

“We’re still working through exactly how we’re going to use them, to manage the game,” he explained. “But they both look good.”

Even if Miller starts, who plays the most? And who finishes?

Guiton is coming off three terrific games and back-to-back Big Ten offensive player of the week honors. But he is still behind Miller, recovering from a sprained knee ligament

It’s a luxury, but at the same time it’s something else to worry about.

Meyer hasn’t figured out how, when or how much — of even if — he’ll use Guiton.

“That’s tough. That’s tough. I’ve had experience playing two in 2006 and it’s hard,” he said, referring to his national championship season at Florida when he had both Chris Leak and Tim Tebow at quarterback. “When a guy gets a hot hand, or if he doesn’t get the hot hand, then when does he go back in? That’s a decision I can only make by myself. So we’ll see.”

On the Buckeyes’ most recent two-deep chart, they’re listed as co-starters.

Now, it’s not as if the offense can’t run a play until it knows who its triggerman will be. Neither candidate just came in off the waiver wire. All of those practices in the heat of August and throughout the past three seasons have created a familiarity which is helpful.

Miller has started for over two years. He was the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year in 2012 while leading the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record. The 6-2, 215-pound junior, who sprained the medial-collateral ligament in his left knee early in the second game of the season, needs just 13 yards to pass Cornelius Greene as Ohio State’s rushing leader among quarterbacks (2,080 yards).

Of course, as that last note indicates, Miller’s forte is scrambling or taking off on designed runs. He is also a serviceable passer but his injury may limit his ability to make cuts — his strength.

If he is even slightly hindered in that regard, Meyer may elect to go with Guiton.

An overlooked high school player from Texas, Guiton was stuck on the sideline for most of his first three seasons at Ohio State before he was called on to replace the injured Miller in the fourth quarter of last year’s game against Purdue. The 6-3, 208-pound fifth-year senior led an improbable 61-yard drive in the final minute, completing a touchdown pass and then converting on a 2-point conversion pass with 3 seconds left to force overtime. The Buckeyes ended up winning, preserving their perfect record.

When Miller went down early in the San Diego State game, Guiton came in as if he had been ordained as one of the Heisman Trophy favorites, not Miller. Things haven’t changed in the two games since, either. He’s completing better than 68 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns with two interceptions. He’s also run for 186 yards and a score.

Sometimes it seems as if their teammates have difficulty differentiating between the two.

“Kenny G provides a lot of excitement with his play because everybody’s excited to see Kenny do well. He’s a great guy, even better player. ‘Kenny G’s out there!’, the crowd’s going, ‘Kenny G’!” center Corey Linsley said. “But (Braxton) has got that quickness, that spark, that no one else in the nation has. You can talk about (Texas A&M’s Heisman Trophy winner) Johnny Manziel all you want, there’s nobody out there quicker at the quarterback position than Braxton.”

Wisconsin isn’t holding its breath to find out either way.

“They’re both good players,” first-year Badgers coach Gary Andersen said. “It doesn’t change our approach whatsoever with whichever quarterback is playing.”

Meyer says he and his assistants have spent “hours and hours of discussion the last few days” on the quarterbacks. They’ve weighed the pros and cons of starting and playing each.

They’ve even looked at playing them at the same time, although that just created more and longer discussions.

“I don’t know if that’s reality,” Meyer added. “I keep thinking, ‘I just love both those players.’ If Kenny was a better wide receiver than one of our receivers, he would be playing receiver; if Braxton was a better running back (than our running backs, then he’d be playing). But they are not.

“And so someone has to come off the field. I just I haven’t decided how we are going to do it.”

Game time is 8 p.m., Coach.

BUCKEYES BUZZ: The next major decision is who’ll get the call at RB.

Jordan Hall has gotten off to a terrific 4-game start but Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith are now back from suspensions and itching for more carries. Freshmen Ezekiel Elliott and Dontre Wilson have also played well.

The big question is: What’s the pecking order at the position?

“The good thing is when you have competition in spots, (practices) are big evaluation days in who’s going to start,” Meyer said. “I think special teams are a big part of who plays, too. So I want to see how these guys do on special teams, how they do in prax, and usually by Thursday or Friday, that’s when we make those final decisions.”

The Buckeyes will probably need all five of those backs against Wisconsin.

The Badgers are third in the nation in rushing at 350 yards per game. They are led by the 1-2 punch of Melvin Gordon and James White, sort of the modern-day version of Mr. Outside and Mr. Inside.

“I am complimenting Wisconsin’s backs because they’ve earned it, they have tremendous stats, they’re very good players,” Meyer said. “But I kind of like where we’re at as well. Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith are our top guys. Then there’s the down-the-line guy, the freshman (Elliott), who is going to be very good here.”

Meyer wouldn’t change much about his options at the position. His team is sixth in the nation at 311 yards a game.

Meyer added that DE Adolphus Washington would be available to play against Wisconsin.

MENDING BADGERS: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Wisconsin may be without or may play with several injured players.

They include the following: TE Jacob Pedersen (knee), LB Brendan Kelly (hamstring), C Dallas Lewallen (ankle), CBs Peniel Jean (leg) and T.J. Reynard (unspecified) and WRs Kenzel Doe (hamstring) and Jeff Duckworth (hamstring). None practiced on Tuesday.

Lewallen has a good chance to play. Pedersen, who caught a TD pass in last year’s game against Ohio State, is wearing a knee brace after tearing the medial-collateral ligament in his knee. The fifth-year senior says he thinks he can play

WRs coach Chris Beatty didn’t sound confident he would have either Doe or Duckworth.

Jean was injured in the first quarter against Purdue. Reynard is out this week and it is too soon to tell about Jean.

Football selection group likely by season’s end: Members of the selection committee for the College Football Playoff that starts next year will likely be chosen before the end of this regular season.

BCS executive director Bill Hancock said in a phone interview Wednesday that conference commissioners working on the selection committee have more vetting to do before the panel is set.

“There’s a good chance it will be done by end of the regular season but because we have some work to do I can’t say for sure,” he added after wrapping a meeting with the commissioners in Chicago. “We all feel good about where we are.”

Hancock declined to say whether any the commissioners have had any outside help with the vetting process of potential committee members.

The panel will be similar to the one that selects the NCAA basketball tournament. The commissioners have announced it will have 12-18 members. Hancock explained the finally number will probably be closer to the low end of that range.

The committee will consists of current athletic directors, former college football players and coaches, former college athletics administrators and former members of the media.

Hancock added the plan in place calls for the selection committee to release rankings three to five times per season before selection Sunday.

 

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