Miller near return, but Guiton’s been terrific
COLUMBUS – For most of the last four years, Kenny Guiton stood around and watched other quarterbacks get all the attention and playing time at Ohio State.
Now is his time – well, at least until Saturday’s noon kickoff against Florida A&M.
Then the spotlight might just be switched back to three-year starter and Heisman Trophy finalist Braxton Miller, who is coming back from a sprained knee ligament.
No matter what, Guiton says he can handle it.
“That’s the coaches’ decision. I’m happy with whatever they decide to do,” the fifth-year senior said of the dilemma facing coach Urban Meyer and his staff. “I’m all with the team. I’ve been like that for 4 years. Why change now?”
Almost the same question is facing Meyer: Why change quarterbacks now?
Guiton has been brilliant since taking over for Miller early against San Diego State two weeks ago. Guiton has turned into the Mariano Rivera of closers, making every big play with almost no mistakes and all but erasing the other teams’ hopes.
He’s completed 67 percent of his passes (41 of 61) for seven touchdowns with just one interception.
His quarterback efficiency rating, if you put much stock in such measurements, is a tad higher than Miller’s. And he’s 2-0 while running the show.
Having two quality players at a spot where there’s only room for one right now presents a daunting but also interesting problem.
“Well, the obvious ones are one starts and one plays a couple of series,” Meyer said Tuesday when asked to go over what his options might be. “Another is if Braxton’s not healthy, then he’s kind of a guy (we’d use) in case of an emergency situation. Then the other is maybe a couple of plays with both of them on the field, being creative and trying to get your best players on the field.”
Could Miller be used as an H or hybrid back in Ohio State’s attack? Could Guiton be in the same backfield with Miller and be a threat on a quick-pitch pass while rolling out?
These and other questions spice up a week in which the Buckeyes are favored by, oh, a thousand points against a Football Championship Subdivision foe.
Ohio State has had several quarterback controversies just in the last 20 years. In most cases, those players had dramatically different skill sets. What makes this situation unique is that Guiton and Miller have somewhat similar talents.
Miller is listed as “probable” for FAMU. Meyer has always said that a player doesn’t lose his starting job because of an injury. Then again, he also has said that anyone can earn their way onto the first team.
So Miller or Guiton? Something’s got to give.
“We didn’t have that dilemma a year ago. … Not dilemma, but luxury,” Meyer said of the days when Miller was considered a superstar and Guiton just a kid on the sideline waiting his turn. “If (Kenny) is one of the best 11, you have an obligation to get him on the field a little bit.”
Miller hasn’t spoken publicly since his injury. But he and Guiton are good friends who have both benefited from having the other around.
Miller is elusive as a runner and an above-average passer. He’s a comet in the open field and a nightmare for lone tacklers.
Guiton is taller, thinner and appears to have a better touch on deep passes. More amazing than the 90-yarder to Devin Smith on the second play of Saturday’s game at Cal – the longest play from scrimmage in Ohio State’s 124 seasons of football – was Guiton’s second of three TD passes in the opening 6 minutes.
Smith ran a post route and had a half-a-step of daylight but Guiton lofted a perfect spiral to him, in step and inches over the defensive back’s outstretched hands, that resulted in a 47-yard touchdown.
The coaches aren’t a bit surprised.
“I said something to (offensive coordinator Tom Herman) in the hotel prior to the game,” tight ends and fullbacks coach Tim Hinton said. “I said, ‘I’ve been coaching a long time, well over 30 years, and I’ve never gone into a game, ever, where you weren’t nervous about your backup quarterback having to start.'”
The Buckeyes don’t think the coaches can go wrong in picking one over the other.
“It really doesn’t matter to me who is in,” Smith said. “They’re both winners.”