Selecting Our Backup Protection

By Keith on July 11, 2010 at 7:00 am
Expert sideline signaler

My Buckeye themed office calendar has a glorious field level picture of the the marching band this month. I see it every weekday and unfailingly the glint of the sousaphones make me fall into a temporariy haze where I think about the upcoming season.  This calendar also tells me, as I’m sure yours does as well, it’s near mid-July meaning next month, practice will be revving up to full throttle and we’ll soon being listening to Jim Tressel talking a lot without saying much. Nevertheless, the Vest does have a big decision on his hands when fall practice wraps up and I’m not talking about whether to allow LeBron a sideline credential.  The depth chart will feature Terrelle Pryor as the starting quarterback but curiosity wants to know who will be the backup.  Obviously, we are thinking positive here and hope for an injury free season for Pryor but clean up time should be plentiful allowing the backup to get quite a few snaps this year. By all indications, Joe Bauserman is the leading candidate to relieve Pryor when called upon. It’s a position he held last year where he saw action in six games so he has the experience angle on his side.  He’s also a natural quarterback in the sense it’s the position he’s best suited to play with his strong arm and decent mobility despite being a squatty 6’1”, 233lbs. From a throwing techique perspective, he reminds me somewhat of Scott McMullan with a little side-arm, gunslinger motion that looks groovy but, unless perfected, results in a lot of batted balls at the line of scrimmage or off target throws.  We saw this bear out in his 32% completion rate last year.  He has better movement than one thinks at first blush but the proclivity to rely on it too much rather than stand in the pocket and find the checkdown.  However, he is capable, putting the skills on full display in the 2008 spring game where showed as much shine as we’ve seen from him to date.

Kenny G, sweet music?

While Bauserman is the leader in the clubhouse, the slender sophomore Kenny Guiton is doing some damage closing the gap.  His spring game performance had everyone all a twitter in what was the most action fans have seen of him since he arrived on campus.  That fact alone is surprising to many since Guiton was, if we are honest with ourselves, an afterthought addition to his recruiting class that saw other coveted quarterbacks, namely Tajh Boyd, spurn the Buckeyes. Guiton essentially picked Ohio State over Praire View A&M, but he’s ours and we love him. His throwing motion is smooth, he keeps the ball near his chest on the drop while using a pretty standard two-finger, across the laces grip.  Perhaps what is most interesting about Guiton is he has above average athleticisim but he rarely looks to run first.  His mentality is to go through all his progressions, even going so far as taking a few coverage sacks when he probably could have turned upfield for positive yardage.  The unknown on Guiton is how much of the offense does he have available to him? It would be easy to not care about the backup spot but the reality is it matters a great deal.  Terelle’s own preposterous running skills are also the same ones that by nature have him taking on more hits and, sometimes, injuries.  So, it’s not good enough to just have a backup by name.  They need to be able to win on the field, not just run out the clock.  Plus, looking ahead, whoever wins the spot - Taylor Graham included - will have a leg up next year when Terrelle may not be around and Braxton Miller arrives. My crystal ball retired long ago but, pin me down, I think Guiton will end up winning the spot, athough I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bauserman listed on the depth chart as the backup initially.  Kenny may just be one of those special, unheralded, underrecruited players who makes the coaches look like geniuses.  If the confidence of the team is any measure, he seems to have the edge as we saw him being selected ahead of Bauserman in the spring draft.  It won’t be a spotlight battle but it may be one of the more important decisions to come out of camp. What’s your take and why?