Filling Pryor's Shoes

By Jason Priestas on August 17, 2011 at 1:00p
38 Comments
2011W Ohio State Football Preview

Fall camp is a weird one this year. Gone is the school's winningest coach in the post bell-bottom era. Also gone is a three year starter at quarterback that was on the verge of shattering every Ohio State career passing record of worth.

Braxton Miller is all inMiller is all in for OSU

As a result of "The Troubles" that enveloped the program in the spring, taking down both coach and quarterback, new head coach Luke Fickell will preside over something that's been pretty rare in Columbus for the better part of the past decade. For only the second time in the last seven years, OSU finds itself entertaining a quarterback battle in camp.

The last time we entered a season without an entrenched starter was 2007, after the departure of Heisman winner Troy Smith. Todd Boeckman emerged as the winner of that competition and promptly led the team to a 10-0 start and a #1 national ranking before the Buckeyes were unceremoniously dumped at home by Juice Williams and the Fighting Illini in early November. The team would rebound, defeating Michigan the following week, before a series of fortunate events propelled OSU back into the top slot and a BCS Championship game matchup with LSU, which the team eventually lost.

The following season, Tressel and Ohio State welcomed the nation's top recruit in Terrelle Pryor, but Boeckman had done enough in his maiden campaign to enter camp as the undisputed starter. His reign at the top didn't last long and after a lackluster performance in a 35-3 waxing to USC in the Coliseum, Pryor emerged as the team's starter.

The freshman would go on to start the next nine games, winning eight of them, including a thrilling comeback against Wisconsin on the road and Ohio State had a new quarterback.

The next two years, Pryor took steps towards becoming a well-rounded passer, improving each season. Last year, he led the Big Ten in touchdown completions, finishing with 27 on the way to over 2,700 yards through the air. He was no longer just a gazelle that could manufacture first downs on his feet, but a legitimate passing threat.

All of that came crashing down of course and now we find ourselves in the position we are currently in: four unproven guys with varying levels of talent and experience, all vying for the chance to lead the team.

Joe Bauserman

The leader heading into camp based on experience in the program alone, the redshirt senior will turn 26 this fall thanks to a daliance with pro baseball after signing a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates way back in 2004.

If it seems like he's been in the program forever, he has. Bauserman was Pryor's primary backup the last three years and saw spot duties in blowouts along the way. He saw the most action of his career in a 73-20 blowout win of Eastern Michigan last season, finishing 5 of 6 for 59 yards and a touchdown (earning him a gaudy 220.9 quarterback rating for the afternoon).

For his maturity and experience, he's never really caught on with the fans. The cringes in the Sugar Bowl were audible when Pryor went down with an injury in the fourth quarter and whatever love he's earned from his tendency to throw nice deep balls in spring games past has gone out the window when his mobility has been called upon.

There's no question he's the most advanced of the four contenders from a knowledge of the playbook point of view and if Tressel were still around, you would have to imagine that Bauserman would get the nod to take the first snap of the 2011 season.

Kenny Guiton

Guiton was a late commitment to the 2009 class, earning a collective "Who" from a fanbase that had him nowhere on the recruiting radar. He redshirted his rookie season and then went on to see (very) limited action in 2010 despite earning rave reviews for his heroic spring game performance that year.

In that game, he hit Taurian Washington with beautiful 45 yard strike with just over a minute remaining to provide the final points in the Gray side's 17-14 comeback victory. Though Ohio State had an entrenched star at the position, Guiton's buzz was palpable after the performance.

For all of the buzz, he rarely saw the field last season, holding down the #3 position on the depth chart. He would go on to finish just 1 of 2 on the year, seeing action in only four games, with an interception against the Hoosiers in week six.

He does have his supporters in the fanbase and has continued to learn and grow within the program, earning him a solid shot at the job this fall.

Guiton was all smiles after the 2010 spring gameGuiton: All smiles after the 2010 spring game

Taylor Graham

The son of former Buckeye and New York Giants quarterback Kent Graham, Taylor arrived as part of the 2010 recruiting class. The 6-4 signal-caller was a four-star recruit from Rivals in that class and entered with a reputation of being a fine pocket passer.

His mobility is limited (he arrived at Ohio State coming off a knee injury in his senior season at Wheaton, IL) and he's still consuming the playbook, which he had plenty of time to do during his redshirt year last season.

At various points during the last two years, Graham has earned rave reviews (and scout team accolades) for awareness in the pocket and nice touch, but as with Bauserman, there are real concerns about his mobility. If he has a great line, to play behind, he'll be more than fine, but if he has to scramble for his life, you won't be faulted for having flashbacks to Boeckman in LA.

Braxton Miller

Of the four quarterbacks competing for the job, Miller is by far the most touted. Playing for Wayne High School near Dayton, Miller was on recruitniks' radars after starting as a freshman for coach Jay Minton.

As a senior, Miller led Wayne to a Division I state championship berth against Lakewood St. Edwards. Though his team would eventually lose 35-28, the quarterback accounted for all four of his team's touchdowns (two on the groun and two through the air) and nearly 300 yards of total offense.

Scout.com pegged Miller as the #2 quarterback recruit and the #13 prospect overall in the 2011 class, giving Ohio State it's second five-star quarterback in three years.

Miller would arrive at Ohio State early in January and took part in the spring game, displaying the talents that had earned him all of the recruiting love he had received. At times, he was the best player on the field, even though he'd only been on campus for a little over three months.

From a tools perspective, he can do it all. He throws a nice spiral and short and deep balls and is equally dangerous running with the football. He'll have to get up to speed with the playbook, but appears to be doing just that. Though quiet, he's also a natural leader with members of his class looking to him for guidance.

There are, however, concerns about his health, as he was injured in his final two seasons in high school, taking him out of all or part of games.


With new coach Luke Fickell facing an uncertain future, he will likely be more ready to throw a freshman into the fire, so that has to bode well for Miller emerging as the starter. Already, it appears as if Bauserman and Miller have emerged as the top two horses in this race and though many fans expect Bauserman to start the season with Miller eventually taking over, I'm not so sure we won't see Miller line up for the first snap against Akron.

The coaching staff has stressed how they are looking for leadership and toughness out of a starter, so if Miller can stay healthy, he has the other side locked down.

38 Comments

Comments

Matt's picture

Good stuff, Jason.  And not to be that guy, but we lost 35-3 to USC.  Twas truly turrible.

JeffinDC's picture

The Collapse in the Coliseum was just terrible. Have to say that the USC fans we were setting around were at least classy about it.

Am ready to get on with this year and let's see what we can do

Go Bucks!

Bobup's picture

Really you show the guy showing off his TAT?? Aren't we sick of seeing and hearing about those?

Bobup

rampageripster's picture

pretty sure joe baseball is a redshirt senior... not a redshirt freshman

Cause I couldn't go for three

Maestro's picture

There is a God.

vacuuming sucks

Denny's picture

I trust the guy with the Dalai Lama avatar on this point.

Taquitos.

Maestro's picture

Ha!!

vacuuming sucks

Nappy's picture

Opposed to orange teddy bears?

Fan of bacon since 1981

Denny's picture

Teddy bears are pretty hardcore Taoists.

Taquitos.

Colin's picture

For the record, we have no reason to not trust the teddy bear.

Denny's picture

I like where this could be heading.

Taquitos.

Bucksfan's picture

I really liked the way Moonlight Graham looked in the Spring Game.  I think he has enormous potential to be an NFL-style QB, just not by sitting on the bench at Ohio State.  Fact is, Ohio State is not designed for those types of guys.  Look how long this staff takes to get a guy ready to play at a high, NFL-calibur level.  Krenzel never got there.  Zwick, despite his size and being highly touted, never got there.  Zwick lost out to Smith who didn't get there until his senior year.  Boeckman never got there.  Robbie Shoenoft (sp?) never got there to beat out Boeckman.  Pryor was going to need his senior season to silence doubters.  And it's not like any of his backups ever challenged him.

So, I like the talent on the bench at OSU, I just don't know specifically why it doesn't translate to the field of play against MAC schools and cr@ppy Big Ten defenses.

Baroclinicity's picture

For no other good reason other than a hunch, something tells me Graham will transfer at some point.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

dmurder's picture

Just a stab in the dark....

The Offesnive Line often determines how good a qb looks.

"We have always had the best damn band in the land, now we have the best damn team in the land"- Jim Tressel 1-03-03

Colin's picture

How good the defense they are playing against is also important.

Denny's picture

Physical features also play a role.

Taquitos.

Colin's picture

Yes... which is why Bauserman's beer gut is a primary concern.

klfeck's picture

Thats not bad for a middle aged man......

Kevin

OH!!!!!

Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

Sgt. Elias's picture

Why is Brett Farv-reh on my internets?

Green as hell receivers and QBs  are, uh, disconcerting. But Fick and Mustache will figure something out, it's not like they're sitting around saying "dave..then dave...then screen into pseudo-turf..punt" /shiftyeyes

 

It's too early for me to think, I needs a coffee. The Miami game has the makings of a real affront to organized hand-egg. Although we may rush for eleventy million yards with their soon-to-be knackered defense. Or our D may score 14 for the win. Whatever, we all need ball-season to start asap. 

"Okay -- I've got an El Camino full of rampage here." 

Denny's picture

Bro Bauserman is like a kid out there, just havin' fun.

Taquitos.

RBuck's picture

He looks more like a guy I'd see at my local bar out here in Nowhereville, not a CFB QB.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

Kyle's picture

So who do I talk to about the hookers and free abortions? 

theDuke's picture

I know this cat down in Oxford, he can hook you up... wait,what? what's that you said?  Oh, shit, wrong Miami. 

theDuke

Buckeyejason's picture

I think half the blame could go to weak O-lines and the other half to poor QB development.

O-line was actually a good one last year, Pryor seemed to have a lot of time to sit and think how he'll throw an arm punt or ground ball.They also helped Herron have an unexpected All-Big Ten year.

BUCKEYES BABY!

ih8rolltyde's picture

Apparently Kyle, you look for the shortest white guy in the VIP section. The guy hanging out with the disproportionately large and athletic looking, much younger friends.... he has all the hookers and abortions one could dream of.

I particularly like the fact that he says the "u" rarely got into bidding wars for recruits because they didn't have the jack the sec was throwing around. A guy in prison for a 930 million dollar ponzi scheme. Ha ha ha

****igan smells like old water that hot dogs were boiled in.  FACT

M Man's picture

Other OSU starting-QB battles:  There have been other QB controversies in Columbus.  There was the epic battle in 1968, between Rex Kern, Ron Maceijowski and Todd Boeckman.  Then the 1978 contest for the starting job between Art Schlicter and Todd Boeckman, as well as the 1989 battle between Kirk Herbstreit and Todd Boeckman.

But there's more.  There was the starting-QB battle between Craig Krenzel and Todd Boeckman in 2001, followed by the Troy Smith v. Todd Boeckman battle in 2002, leading to the ultimate, epic, Terelle Pryor/Todd Boeckman/Joe Bauserman battles of 2008, 2009 and 2010.  Which brings us up to 2011's Joe Bauserman/Braxton Miller/Kenny Guiton/Taylor Graham/Todd Boeckman battle.

NW Buckeye's picture

Your humor is well placed quite often.  

NC_Buckeye's picture

Very funny M Man. BTW, don't let Pam catch you making fun of Boeckman. (Or was it Angel?) Well, don't let one of them catch you... I forget.

thorvath22's picture

What's even funnier is this Todd Boeckman led a team that beat your rodents in 2007 =)

...and then iced the cake in the 2008 raping.

Still.....funny joke M Man.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

If he can keep that 220 rating no one will complain. I loved the practice vids but nothing really stood out to me. I would never survive as a coach. I have a feeling JB starts and we run the hell out of the ball.

bucknut24's picture

I agree we run run run until we have to pass then punt.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Or field goal....dont forget those.

Bucksfan's picture

How are we on kickers anyway?  We never talk about them, but it's going to be vitally important this year.  Last year's punt coverage was dismal, and I can't really remember if our FG units were all that spectacular or not.

jenks's picture

I've heard great things about drew basil, but i haven't been impressed with what i've seen. granted, i've been comparing him as an 18 year old kid against the great veterans we've seen for the last decade... so, i'm sure everything is okay in this department.

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

Or better yet, a safety!

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Anyone have any extra scoop on TP? Doug from the Plain Dealer is Saying he released bank records and got quizzed then left tOSU before NCAA started to dig further.

poop's picture

@Bucksfan: Ask Bollman.

SchankHaus's picture

Glad to see some clear buckeye pride from Miller.
 

I'm guessing he has the receipt for that tattoo tattooed on his other arm.