Buckeyes Looking Forward To QB Battle

Ohio State will have its first wide-open fall camp battle for its starting quarterback job since 2005 this fall, which could cause some hand wringing among observers and even players. However, the members of the team made available in recent weeks say they're looking forward to seeing how things develop as four players get ready to vie for the job.

In another world, Ohio State could have a fourth-year starter and Heisman Trophy candidate returning at quarterback in Terrelle Pryor.

In the real world, Ohio State will have a player making his first career start under center when the season kicks off in less than two months Sept. 3 with a game against Akron in Ohio Stadium.

It's a stark dichotomy, one that could lead to nail biting and teeth gnashing as the Buckeyes go through summer drills and prepare to start fall camp, but that hasn't been the case as the Buckeye players have talked to the media during the past two weeks.

"I wouldn't say (it has been) stressful at all," fullback Zach Boren said. "It's very exciting, especially with me and the older guys like (Michael Brewster) and them, it's kind of nice to have to bring up a quarterback who has to learn the system and who hasn't been in there for a start. It's kind of going to be fun seeing what they can do."

Perhaps Boren's attitude has something to do with the fact the Buckeyes have four possible choices, all of whom got to show their wares about equally during spring ball when Pryor was hobbled by ankle injury suffered against Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

"With Terrelle not there, they got all the reps they needed, and we have to carry that over to fall because those guys are going to be there the whole time," tight end Jacob Stoneburner said.

By now, the four contestants are well known. Senior Joe Bauserman has the most experience, completing 16 of 22 passes for 174 yards, two touchdowns and an interception last year. However, the pick came during a less-than-inspiring cameo in relief of Pryor when the starter was injured during a dogfight at Illinois, and Bauserman continues to sometimes hold the ball too long while going through his progressions. A decent scrambler, he also lacks top-end physical attributes at just 6-1.

Kenny Guiton continued to show progress this spring after being a late throw-in to the 2009 recruiting class. A good runner, Guiton is more suited to the spread elements Ohio State used with Pryor and is noted as a hard worker and inspiring teammate by everyone on the team.

Taylor Graham, meanwhile, is much more of a pocket passer but has a rocket arm, which he showed off while hooking up with T.Y. Williams for a 68-yard touchdown pass in the spring game. The redshirt freshman also has a firm command of the offense, earning praise from Boren for his knowledge and ability to take charge of the huddle, but took five sacks in the spring game and isn't as spry as the other choices.

Then there's Braxton Miller, the five-star quarterback recruit who entered Ohio State in January and impressed with how he grew during the 15 practices while working mostly with the second and third units. Miller boasts excellent mobility and pocket sense and simply must continue improving within the system.

So who will end up taking the first snap? The players questioned said they're looking for certain attributes as the quarterback race unfolds over 29 fall camp practices.

"Take charge," Boren said. "That's the big thing. If you're a freshman or if you're a senior, whatever, if you come in and take charge, you have my respect. Someone that opens up their mouth and says, ‘Let's go. This is my offense, and let's roll with it.'"

Stoneburner had a much simpler assessment of the situation.

"We need to win. That's it," he said. "If they have the desire to win. We don't want to be a mediocre team. We don't want to lose to Michigan. As long as they're out there trying to win and trying to compete as hard as we are, I'm fine with that."

That's something Pryor was able to do in spades. The multitalented quarterback was 31-4 as a starter since taking over in the fourth game of the 2008 season and led Ohio State to wins in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.

He finished his career with the most rushing yards in school history for a quarterback and tied for the most touchdown passes with Bobby Hoying while posting five of the six games in Ohio State history in which a player threw for 200-plus yards and ran for at least 100.

Pryor also had the skills to make something out of nothing also helped the Buckeyes in a variety of ways – Pryor was able to avoid pressure when the offensive line broke down and able to make plays with his feet when the wide receivers couldn't get open.

"(We're losing) playmaking ability," Boren said. "There's plays that Terrelle can make that you're just like, ‘Wow,' and it definitely helps you out – him escaping the pocket and making throws and stuff like that. It's definitely going to hurt."

Pryor also provided flexibility in that he was equally effective out of the shotgun and under center. Designed quarterback runs – including a number of option plays – were used with him under center at a rate not seen since Troy Smith's 2005 campaign.

Still, the four entrants in the quarterback derby will all bring something to the table. And whoever takes over will have help, Brewster said.

"If it's Joe, Kenny, Braxton – whoever it's going to be is will do a great job," Brewster said. "I'm not worried about that at all. I'll make sure the line is protecting them, and they'll be fine."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories