|Miller near return but Guiton’s been terrific|
|Wednesday, September 18, 2013 12:37 AM|
By RUSTY MILLER
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 3-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 answered of the dilemma facing coach Urban Meyer and his staff. “I’m all with the team. I’ve been like that for 4 1/2 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 replied 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 added 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 added. “They’re both winners.”
BUCKEYES BUZZ: The college football world was still buzzing on Tuesday about Nebraska coach Bo Pelini.
It’s been a bad week for Pelini and the Cornhuskers. First, they blew a 21-3 lead, surrendering the final 38 points in a lopsided home loss to No. 13 UCLA on Saturday.
Then Pelini, a former Ohio State safety and a native of Youngstown, got into a war of words with former Nebraska star Tommie Frazier. Frazier expressed doubts about Pelini’s program and called for his firing. Pelini responded, “We don’t need him.”
Shortly after that, Deadspin.com revealed a 2-year-old audio recording of Pelini obscenely ripping Nebraska’s fans after the Cornhuskers’ dramatic come-from-behind 34-27 win at home against the Buckeyes midway through the 2011 season.
Pelini issued an apology and then reiterated it on the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference on Tuesday.
Now he doesn’t know if he’ll be disciplined by school officials for his profane rant about “fair-weather” Nebraska fans.
“I think I’ve built up enough points with our fans over the last five years in how I’ve conducted myself, how I’ve run this program and what we’ve done with this program to earn some forgiveness for something that was made in a private setting,” Pelini told reporters. ‘’People will understand this isn’t how I feel about the fans. I’ve said it over and over.”
Meyer was asked whether, as a coach of a university with a huge fan base, there are still places where coaches can safely go to let off steam and vent their frustrations.
“I don’t believe there is anymore,” Meyer replied. “That’s the positions we’re in. That’s just the way it is.”
EARLE HONORED: College Football Hall of Fame coach Earle Bruce (Tampa, Iowa State, Ohio State, Northern Iowa, Colorado State) was named an honorary citizen of Salem, Ohio, at the Salem Community Hospital Founders’ Day Breakfast on Sept. 13.
STILL REELING: Florida A&M, which visits Ohio State on Saturday at noon, is still in shock over the killing of a former Rattler football player.
Jonathan A. Ferrell, 24, who played for FAMU in 2009 and 2010, had recently moved to the Charlotte, N.C., area to be near his girlfriend. Early on Saturday morning, he survived a car wreck and went looking for help.
After pounding on the door of a house, the woman living there called police. Later, an unarmed Ferrell ran toward police officers who first tried to subdue him with a Taser and then shot him dead.
Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, has been charged with voluntary manslaughter.
FAMU interim athletic director Michael Smith said Ferrell was a safety for the Rattlers for the two seasons.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to his family during their time of bereavement,” Smith wrote in an e-mailed statement.
Meyer said he had learned of the tragedy and was shaken by what took place.
“It’s real. Your prayers and thoughts are with that team because it’s not exactly family but the way that football coaches and players and teams get along, especially the good programs, I mean it is like a family,” Meyer said. “I finally had a chance and I read about it today and what a terrible story.”
Meyer said right after Florida won the national championship after the 2006 season, one of his walk-on players was killed in a motorcycle accident.
“(Michael Guilford) was more than just a walk-on player — his nickname was Sunshine,” Meyer explained. “And he actually was the Troy Smith scout-team quarterback as we got ready, ironically, to play Ohio State.”
To help his team cope with the loss, Meyer added he brought in former Ohio State and NFL WR Cris Carter. Carter had been through a period of grief when former Ohio State player (and Carter’s Vikings teammate) Korey Stringer died during preseason workouts one year.