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Ohio State football: Moving forward

Braxton Miller will presumably start Saturday against Wisconsin. Does that mean Kenny Guiton is done for the year?


When you have two quarterbacks, you have none.  Except when, in fact, you really do have two good quarterbacks.

First off, a big round of applause to senior Kenny Guiton.  Stepping in an for an injured Braxton Miller, Guiton was nothing short of spectacular.  If we extrapolate Guiton's stats out to a 12 game season based on what he's done so far, it comes out to over 2,600 yards passing, almost 50 passing TD's, and only 11 interceptions.  Granted, the passing touchdown numbers are artificially inflated due to the Florida A&M game, but the point remains that Guiton is capable of starting for most teams across the country.

Yet Braxton Miller comes back, presumably this Saturday, and Guiton will be relegated to a support role once again.

You can't bench Miller.  I mean c'mon, he's the returning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and he did that when, according to Urban Meyer, last year Miller 'didn't really know what he was doing' as a quarterback, and was just relying on his natural ability.

But Guiton hasn't done anything to get put back on the bench.  It seems, however, as if Meyer has made up his mind. In his press conference today he said:

"I haven't decided how we're going to do it," Meyer said. "But I know Braxton, if he has a good week of practice, will start."

And that's all she wrote.  Or is it?

The Buckeyes had a dual luxury this past week in Guiton and FCS opponent Florida A&M, and even if Miller was 100% healthy, there was no reason to risk playing him and re-aggravating his sprained MCL.  And Guiton performed very well, setting an OSU record with six TD passes, and potentially giving OSU a problem.

What if Miller struggles?  Should Guiton come in and steady the ship, or should Meyer let him play through the rustiness, assuming the game doesn't get out of hand?

The next two weeks are two of the three biggest regular season games OSU will play this year, and Meyer will be walking a tightrope.  Wisconsin is no joke, and  a game that the Buckeyes cannot let get out of control.  Let's say OSU struggles early at home, and finds themselves down 10-0 or 14-0 early.  If Miller is off on his throws, or if the offense is sputtering, would it be more prudent to let Miller work through it or bring in Guiton to try and get things settled?

And what if Guiton does get things settled?  Does he pull him to get Miller back on the field, or does he stay with Kenny G?  You could make an argument for both.  Long term, you want Miller to have the full confidence of the coaching staff, and you don't want him looking over his shoulder at the first sign of him struggling.

On the other hand, you play to win the game, as modern day philosopher and warrior poet Herman Edwards once said.  You can't worry about feelings, because Meyer and Tom Herman can't afford to play psychiatrist during the game.  Use whatever weapons are at your disposal to win the game, and worry about everything else afterwards.  A one loss OSU team has zero shot at playing for a national title, so they can't afford to wait until it's too late to pull Miller, if it should come to that.

History is replete with teams that played multiple quarterbacks and had zero success...but there have been a couple of notable exceptions.  In 1996, our very own Ohio State Buckeyes squad (with defensive starters and all time bros Mike Vrabel and Luke Fickell) platooned Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine with great results.  That team finished 11-1, won a share of the Big Ten, and Ohio State won their First Rose Bowl since the 1973 season. Under that dual system, Ohio State ended up the season ranked #2 in the country when it was all said and done.

Why did you slip, Shawn Springs? WHY???  Ahem...sorry.  Moving right along...

In 2006...

//involuntary shudder

//pours stiff drink

...The Florida Gators employed Chris Leak and Tim Tebow to win the SEC and roll a team who's name I cannot recall in the national championship game, even though I am told by my wife that I went to the game.  I have no recollection of it, as those three days in Tempe have been erased from my memory.  Gone. Poof.  Didn't happen.

But the point remains that in the right situation, it can work.  In those two examples, though, the two quarterbacks each had a different skill set.  With the Buckeyes, Germaine was more the pure passer, and Jackson was more mobile.  With Florida, Leak had more mobility than Germaine did, but he was the more accurate passer.  Tebow was more a situational fullback, almost.  He didn't throw much, and they had a set package of plays for him, usually in goal line and short yardage situations, that Florida used with deadly efficiency.  Still, even with the varying look of the offense when Tebow came in, it was, in the purest technical sense, a quarterback platoon.

With the Buckeyes in 2013, I don't know that a two QB system would work, because Miller and Guiton are, essentially, the same type of player.  They are both read option QB's that are very good runners with good arms and throwing accuracy.  And I don't know that Meyer, who as we all know was the coach of Florida in 2006, thinks splitting reps between Miller and Guiton is a good idea, either, even though he'd like to have some way to get them on the field at the same time.  But even Meyer admits that probably isn't feasible, either:

"I don't know if [playing both together] is reality," Meyer said. "I keep thinking of a way because I love both those players; I think they're good players. But I don't know. If Kenny was a better wide receiver than one of our receivers, he'd be playing wide receiver. If Braxton was a better running back or something -- but they're not.

"Someone has to come off the field."

It's far fetched to think that there will be a platoon or shuttle between Miller and Guiton this year.  Miller is healthy and will start, and unless he gets injured again, there's no reason to believe that he will be benched for Guiton again this season.

Unless, of course, he is.