Without Kenny Guiton, the Buckeyes will have to learn how to play offense without a safety net.
In September 2012, Braxton Miller recorded 27 carries in a tight win against Central Florida. After the game, Urban Meyer made it clear that the Buckeyes needed to take better care of Miller to prevent an injury. Miller carried the ball less often over the next few games, but he still got hurt against Purdue. Backup quarterback Kenny Guiton replaced him, saved the perfect season, and became the toast of the town.
It's no secret that having a backup quarterback like Kenny Guiton is a luxury any coach would take in a heartbeat. When your backup quarterback is named National Offensive Player of the Week or breaks the school record for touchdown passes in a game, you're in pretty good shape.
Though the lasting memory of Guiton will be saving OSU's bacon against Purdue, he impacted the perfect season beyond that one game.
Between the games against Central Florida and Purdue, Miller averaged 17 carries a game. In the final four games of the year, Miller averaged 21.5. Why was he running more after an injury? By proving that he could step up in case of emergency, Guiton allowed Meyer to relax restrictions on Miller's rushing attempts.
With 4.5 more opportunities per game to break off big plays, Braxton Miller had more chances to break games open. "Explosive runs" are runs of 10 yards or longer; Miller had explosive runs in nearly 20% of his attempts, and on those runs he averaged over 20 yards per play. In 2012, those 4.5 carries roughly translated to one more explosive play per game.
|explosive runs||rush ATT||Exp Rush %||EXP play YDS||YDs/EXP Play|
|BRAXTON MILLER (2012)||44||227||19.4%||974||22.1|
No matter how Miller performed in the final four games of the year (not as well as his first eight games), here are the important parts: the extra attempts gave him more chances for a game-changing play, and Miller did break off a 42-yarder against the Wolverines at an opportune moment. Considering that 76.6% of Miller's rushing yards on the year came via explosive plays, it served the offense well to put the ball in his hands.
To California's dismay, Guiton had a more direct impact in 2013. Here are a few quick hitters about his phenomenal senior season:
|Player||Adj QBR (Rank)|
|Braxton Miller||81.5 (13th)|
|Blake Bortles||78.9 (19th)|
|Kenny Guiton||77.7 (N/A)|
|Nate Sudfeld||68.3 (37th)|
|Devin Gardner||64.3 (50th)|
|Connor Cook||64.1 (52nd)|
|Philip Nelson||62.0 (56th)|
|Nate Scheelhaase||59.5 (64th)|
|Jake Rudock||58.4 (69th)|
|Trevor Siemian||55.7 (70th)|
|Joel Stave||55.6 (72nd)|
|Christian Hackenberg||53.0 (77th)|
|Taylor Martinez||44.0 (95th)|
|Danny Etling||32.7 (114th)|
- Guiton had an adjusted Total QBR (as good of a measurement of QB performance as I have found) of 77.7 in 2013. On the right is a table of every Big Ten quarterback's QBR rating in 2013 (along with non-Big Ten quarterback Blake Bortles); keep in mind that these are pre-adjusted for strength of opponent. Though Guiton lacked the sample size to be ranked, he excelled when he was on the field.
- The Big Ten had only three top-50 passers, and with more reps for Guiton the Buckeyes would have had the two best quarterbacks in the conference.
- Blake Bortles was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Guiton played about as well as a franchise NFL quarterback last year.
- In 2013, Guiton was sacked only once out of 110 dropbacks (0.92%). The least sacked full-time quarterback in college football this year was Derek Carr, who was sacked on 1.64% of his dropbacks (for comparison, Braxton Miller was sacked 7.6% of the time). Sure, most of Guiton's work came against San Diego State, Cal and Florida A&M, but San Diego State was better than Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Notre Dame in sack percentage last year, for the record. It's still impressive.
- Guiton led the Big Ten in completion percentage among quarterbacks with at least 100 passing attempts, with a rate of 68.8%.
Without Kenny G, The backup quarterback position will likely take a step back this fall. As long as they don't have to play meaningful time because of an injury, the most they will do is Miller's rushing attempts. Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett can succeed by doing what Guiton did best – making the right play and getting the ball out quickly. It's not easy, especially without much experience, but that's what made Kenny G so special.