Anatomy of a Quarterback Conundrum

By Kyle Rowland on September 23, 2013 at 9:15a
Is this a luxury or a curse?

The opponents might not be topnotch. Someone who doesn’t care, though, is Kenny Guiton. His job is to relieve starting quarterback Braxton Miller and attempt to minimize the talent drop off. But raising it – that seems impossible.

Not if you’re Guiton, someone who’s been doubted more than once. Never again after a three-game streak that’s included a 68-percent completion percentage, 643 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, two school records and one national player of the week honor.

All that doesn’t change the fact that Miller is most responsible for Ohio State’s undefeated season in 2012, even with Guiton’s heroics against Purdue. While the Heisman Trophy has bid Miller adieu for this season, he’s still a dynamic playmaker that gives the Buckeyes an added dimension in a sport where difference makers can provide the slim margin between win and loss.

It’s why head coach Urban Meyer hasn’t budged on the situation at quarterback.

“[Miller] is our starting quarterback,” he said. “Our backup quarterback has earned some time. I can’t begin to tell you [how much]. I’ve been going through some scenarios in my mind and I don’t know what it is. I’m going to see how we practice this week. But Braxton is our starting quarterback.”

What Guiton has done is make Meyer’s decision difficult.

“He’s been everything, really, to be honest with you,” tight end Jeff Heuerman said about Captain Guiton.

It’s possible you could see Miller and Guiton on the field together. Guiton is a master at running the option and Miller’s world-class speed is a weapon. Don’t think Meyer doesn’t want to keep opposing defensive coordinators guessing, either. However, the more likely development is Guiton receiving a few reps each game.

“We didn't have that dilemma a year ago. Or not dilemma, but luxury,” Meyer said about Guiton’s services. “We're in the conversation about that right now. If he’s one of the best 11, you have an obligation to get him on the field a little bit.”

In his first career start last week at Cal, Guiton orchestrated 52 points and the longest play from scrimmage in school history. He followed it up with a school-record six touchdown passes against Florida A&M. And they all came in the first half.

Guiton has become a folk hero and captain at Ohio State, and a national sensation. He spoke to his parents for over an hour last week discussing the journey to today. It’s gone from Eisenhower High School in Houston to Columbus with several detours and near diversions along the way.

“He’s been everything, really, to be honest with you.” 

Prairie View A&M was going to be Guiton’s destination until the Buckeyes came calling with an offer in the 11th hour. But after three years at Ohio State, Guiton’s dream scenario almost came crashing down. A poor attitude rubbed the new coaching staff the wrong way, and as Meyer says, it nearly earned Guiton “a one-way bus ticket” back to Houston.

“If you knew where he was in January, a year and a half ago; can you imagine being his parent right now – how cool that would be,” Meyer said. “If you buy stock, buy stock in Kenny Guiton, because what he’s going to do after football someday, it’s going to be really neat.”

Miller’s sprained MCL is either worse than previously thought or continuing to improve. On College GameDay, quarterback guru George Whitfield said Miller’s knee is almost 100 percent, but the coaches wanted to hold him out. Following Saturday’s game, Meyer had a different version. He said Miller didn’t want to play because his knee still wasn’t healthy enough.

“I wanted to play him,” Meyer said. “Braxton felt like he couldn’t go. He tried really hard. We had a good week of pushing him through, but with good athletes those are tough injuries.”

Said senior center Corey Linsley, who doubles as a captain: “He’s good. He’s been getting his mental reps. You can see the look in his eye. He’s excited about getting back in there.”

The bruised knee could hamper his mobility, which is a big component in Miller’s repertoire. Designed runs and eluding pressure make him one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. Miller has been fitted with a knee brace, and Meyer said he’s getting used to the restrictiveness of it and being limited laterally.

Miller’s throwing is deceptively good. He threw for more than 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns last season with only six interceptions. All told, he was the Big Ten’s second-most efficient passer. His running, though, gives Ohio State a distinct advantage in the slow, prodding Big Ten.

The Buckeyes face two ranked foes in consecutive weeks – Wisconsin and Northwestern. Each game factors in greatly in both the conference and national championship race. The notion of Ohio State going undefeated sans Miller before the season would have elicited eye rolls. But now the whispers have grown louder, reaching a crescendo after another record-setting day by Guiton.

His fan club now counts millions as members. Losing a starting job due to injury isn’t the norm, though some say Miller is too fragile. Should Meyer bench the nation’s leading touchdown passer?

This isn’t the first time a quarterback controversy – real or perceived – has made its way to Columbus. Kent Graham-Kirk Herbstreit, Bobby Hoying-Bret Powers, Stanley Jackson-Joe Germaine, Troy Smith-Justin Zwick and Todd Boeckman-Terrelle Pryor have been battles of the past, with end results that often undermine the team.

“I’m a team player,” Guiton said. “I’ve been a team player for five years. That won’t change. But playing has helped me be more of a leader. Now I know I can have an impact here.”

Incredibly, Guiton is the quarterback that’s become a darkhorse Heisman contender.

“I don’t know how many snaps he played before our staff got here,” Meyer said, referring to Guiton, “but he probably didn’t play any and it’s not because the staff was screwing him over, he just wasn’t very good in a lot of areas.

“He’s an underachiever. And to an underachiever, that’s fighting words. He’s an efficient player right now, an incredible manager. He was prepared and [Tom Herman] and him did a very good job. It’s not by accident that this thing happened now. It’s not because he had the buckeye in his pocket or his lucky T-shirt. It’s because he worked hard with the position coach to get ready for his opportunity, and, boy, did he.”

Guiton chooses to call the moments that not even he foresaw blessings.

“The guy is the best in the business,” Herman said.

Even so, his moment in the sun is beginning to cool off.


Comments Show All Comments

Oyster's picture

And this is a conundrum every team in the nation wished they were in. 

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

buckeyepastor's picture

Guiton's poise and leadership is a great development for OSU.  Miller at 100% should be our starting QB.    But, if he struggles physically or mentally, is tentative or uneasy with running the ball, if he is handing the ball off when he's clearly got room to run and should be keeping it, it's great to know that Guiton is available.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

ejoceans's picture

I agree in the fact that he must be %100 and practice very well with running and passing this week to get the start(IMO).  I just think that Kenny is playing very well right now and if Brax is NOT %100 in all aspects then we cant take any chances with Big10 play starting this weekend.  I truely think if we can make it past these two weeks with KennyG then Brax will be fully healed and HEALTHY and ready to go for the rest of the year. IDK Im torn everybody.  I just hope Brax is %100 and that will end all of this talk of what to do.

Lets do this Brutus

thatlillefty's picture

Well, might as well redshirt Braxton now and get it over with.
Kenny for Heisman!

cinserious's picture

Now that's a deliciously tempting thought. Save Braxton for '14 AND '15, more sure-fire championship years (defensively especially). However the CHASE is on and we have to get it done this year. Guiton is very solid but we'll know more about him as the B1G gets underway, plus we don't really have depth beyond Kenny and XBrax.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Cardale Jones looks pretty serviceable to me.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

SPreston2001's picture

Ummm no.... Cardale looked servicable against FAMU!! But I havent seen enough from Cardale to gain any confidence in him...

osubuck57's picture

If Braxton isn't 100%, why bring him back?? If he can't do everything he needs to be able to do, I wouldn't hesitate to start Kenny. And when and if he's 100%, of course start him. Probably will have a little rust, but thats to be expected.


KeithByarsRightFoot's picture

I personally like the idea of starting Guiton and then subbing in Braxton. If Braxton plays well, you stick with the hot hand and let him do his thing. But if he struggles or shows affects from the injury, you can put Guiton back in command without actually 'benching' Braxton.

Jonnferrell's picture

There has to be some option that Guiton fakes to Hyde, flips out to Braxton, Braxton throws to Wilson. . . 

"I miss Brady Hoke."

Earle's picture

Doesn't anyone think Cardale earned some snaps this week?

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

droessl's picture

Jones is one massive sumbitch; not great speed, but a helluva tough guy to bring down. Like Brandon Jacobs but has the ability to pass... and not currently terrible at the game of football. 

jenks's picture

I was never terribly impressed with him at Glennville, but he looked a lot better than I remember this weekend. I guess that's what time at Fork Union, with college coaches, and in a college weight room will do.

causeicouldntgo43's picture

I think the only way Kenny G starts again is if Braxton's meniscus gets re-injured. I'm dealing with a bad case of tendonitis in my arm right now, and it takes time to heal these things. A shot of cortisone can help, but it won't heal underlying damage, just mask the pain.
I'm no expert on tendons, ligaments, and the like by any means, but these things take time to heal properly and they can be easily re-torn/sprained with one wrong move during the healing process. If this happens with Brax, and it is possible, there will be no doubt that Kenny G will be starting.
Not trying to be a Debbie Downer, just realistic.

Oyster's picture

How are your eyes holding up?

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Good, but my palm is a little hairy.....

SilverState's picture

That picture is so hard.

nm_buck's picture

It would be amazing to occasionally have them on the field at the same time. 
There is one HELL of a lot of pressure on BM right about now.  If he has a bad game... the fans and the press will go apeshit.  Getting them both on the field for a few plays a quarter would do a lot to alleviate the pressure on each one of them. 

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

chitown buckeye's picture

Seriously not sure where I stand on this situation. I am of the camp that says "if you got 2 qbs, you got no qbs". I would much rather pick one and live and die with him. You cant have one looking over his shoulder every play. I trust the coaches but it isnt going to help Miller in any way to pressure him into performing or he will be replaced.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

gwright78's picture

I hear ya, but usually if you have two QB's, it's because they both suck (right, Bollman?). Not the case here.

chitown buckeye's picture

I completely agree they are both wonderful QB's. I just think when you start splitting time that you begin to lose production from them both. Switching back and forth between series or after a poor series doesn't give either of them a chance to get into the flow of the game. How do you prove you have toughness if you never get a chance to respond after adversity? For example, after Guiton threw the pick in the end zone on the first series (had it just been downed like it should have been) where would he have stood if Miller was ready to come in? We probably would have never seen his record breaking performance. What I fear is we will get watered down versions of each player because they'll begin to play not to make a mistake in fear of them gatting benched for the next guy. It very rarely ever works...

"I'm having a heart attack!"

ScarletGray43157's picture

11W had a poll before the season began, I don't remember the exact wording but it was something to the effect of "can OSU with the NC (or maybe it was B1G) with Kenny Guiton at QB?"  
I voted yes, and so did a lot of others.  I know we have yet to play the best competition on the schedule, but I still vote yes, even though I want Braxton back to 100% and back on the field.
Just sayin'...

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

jenks's picture

It's like the exact opposite of Joe Germaine and Stanley Jackson. And that ended pretty well.

SoDakBuckeyeFan's picture

I think working Kenny G in occasionally could work really well as long as Braxton is confident that he is the #1 guy. We don't need him putting extra pressure on himself because he thinks he's one bad series away from being benched. Don't get me wrong I'm a fan of the Smooth Jazz but Braxton is just a more dynamic player. I hope he's ready to roll this Saturday and puts an end to any doubt that he's the man. 


RedStorm45's picture

I can't take anything away from that FAMU game.  That was like playing against air at practice.  KG did have a bad throw on the first series (for the INT), and not to mention he did about a poor a job as you can do on the read option at Cal (the fumble).  People seem to forget...Braxton was FIFTH in the Heisman last year and put up 3,300 yards of offense.  You're not taking that off the field.  I mean I guess you could do an Antwan Randle El type pass now and then, but 2 QB's in at the same time doesn't make a lot of sense.  Just more unnecessary hits for one or both of them.

SaltyD0gg's picture

Stats can tell you almost any story, but this one is crazy:
Braxton threw 15 TDs last year. Kenny G has 12 in less than 3 games this year.

Pain of Discipline

Pain of Regret

Take Your Pick

SPreston2001's picture

Wow I didnt realize that! Kenny G really deserves all the credit he's been receiving!

ejoceans's picture

Yes but the players are better and they are getting more used to the offense as well so you cant just base it on the numbers from last year.  Who's to say how many TD's Brax would have so far if he played out all of these games.

Lets do this Brutus

Baroclinicity's picture

This is going to come across as snarky, and I truly don't mean it to do so. But I can't believe this is a topic of conversation. Braxton, period with the stipulation that he has properly healed.

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

ScarletNGrey01's picture

I understand where you are coming from, Big Ten Player of the Year last season, 12 - 0 season, fifth in the Heisman last season, a few yards shy of breaking the all-time buckeye record for the most running yards by a QB, incredible "escapability" and a strong arm with what appears to be improved throwing mechanics.  HOWEVER ... based on what Kenny G has done this season (albeit not against top opponents), how well he runs the option, how well he distributes the ball to all of our weapons, how smooth and accurate his passing is, his ability to pick up yards on the ground when needed, the respect he commands from all of this teammates ... you don't even think it should be a topic of discussion?

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Baroclinicity's picture

I really don't. Love Kenny. Love how he has seamlessly stepped into the role.

It's Braxton's offense.

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

mb5599's picture

Braxton deserves the start. Should'nt lose your position due to an injury. However, if he struggles Urban needs to move to Kenny G.  Above everything else should be the team.  If the team performs better with Kenny G, Urban has to do what is best for the team.  That being said, I think Braxton will be just fine and this wont even be an issue.

Big B

ScarletNGrey01's picture

It's almost unfair that the best two QB's in the B1G play for the same team (a case could be made for our RB's also).  If we were playing say a Purdue it would be a no brainer IMHO, start Kenny G. then let Braxton play a few drives.  Oh well, the best coaching staff in the country, Miller apparently is smart enough to listen to his body, a top notch medical staff ... we can only assume that the guys making the big bucks will make the right decision.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

45has2's picture

It's funny that almost 50% of the poll respondents don't think a Miller/Guiton platoon would work. It works just fine at ULM. TOSU has Urb and a Mensa member for an OC. Somehow, even if they weren't intelligent enough to come up with something of their own, I bet they are smart enough to copy.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

SPreston2001's picture

Nice write up but I wouldnt exactly say Miller has "world-class" speed. He's more quick than anything. He probably realistically runs about a 4.5/4.6 40.

NJ_BUCKEYE's picture

I thought one of the coaches or maybe it was Roby who said that Braxton is the second fastest player on the team after him.  Roby runs around a 4.31, and I am pretty sure Braxton ran sub 4.4 although he is probably on average at 4.4 flat.  I am almost positive that Braxton ran a 4.38 before the season (I read it in an interview with a coach or player I believe).

NJ_BUCKEYE's picture

The supporting cast this year has been so much more dynamic than last year's, I don't think it's even fair to compare stats from last year to this year.  Last year the offense didn't have 3 running backs you can expect to pick up quality yards, and they sure has heck didn't have 7 players capable of even catching one ball, let alone a few balls in a game.
until Braxton gets 2 or 3 games under his belt I can't say Kenny's accomplishments are much more than being a great game manager. 

zhamilton05's picture

" the slow, prodding Big Ten"
Is that a misprint? Or a cow joke in advance of Wisconsin on Saturday?

DaiTheFlu's picture

Or maybe Kyle is Asian?

We can't stop here; this is bat country...

sethboss15's picture

people are talking and acting like everything kenny g is doing are things braxton cant do or do better. braxton has an added dimension to his game and is the starter for a reason. i've also always been a believer in you shouldn't lose your job because of injury. once again, braxton is the starter for a reason.


Toilrt Paper's picture

If Braxton isn't his dynamic self, the key to the game isn't Braxton OR Guiton THE key is the o-line. If Wisconsin knows they don't have to worry about a dynamic runner Braxton, then the line is going to have to be blowing open holes for handing the ball to tailbacks.