Bucks Stick With Bauserman All The Way

The Ohio State coaching staff said it planned to use both Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller in Saturday's game against Toledo. But in a close contest with the Rockets, the coaching staff opted to stick with the senior.

If Ohio State was going to lose to a Mid-American Conference foe for the first time since 1921, it was going to be with 25-year-old senior Joe Bauserman playing quarterback.

Despite expectations that Ohio State would treat its quarterback rotation similarly to the way it did in its season-opening win against Akron, freshman quarterback Braxton Miller remained on the bench the entire game.

It was Bauserman, who was named one of the team's three captains heading into the game against the Rockets, who played all the snaps while helping the No. 15 Buckeyes escape Ohio Stadium with the 27-22 victory over the Rockets.

"We were going to use him," head coach Luke Fickell said of Miller. "We had a plan maybe to be in that second quarter, very similar to last week, but it just didn't work out the way we had probably planned it in our head, and we'll continue to move forward."

Fickell referred to the "flow of the game" as the reason why the Buckeyes stuck with Bauserman, but it was likely because Toledo had kept the game close until the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Unlike last week, where Ohio State had a command over Akron early in the game, an ideal opportunity to rotate a freshman quarterback into the game never presented itself. Though Toledo ended up going to the locker room down 21-15 at halftime, the Rockets led for a good portion of the second quarter.

With Ohio State's backs against the wall in the first half, Fickell stuck with the senior Bauserman, who ended up completing 16 of 30 pass attempts for 189 yards.

"It's just one of those gut decisions you've got to make out there," Fickell said. "You know, we thought for momentum reasons and some different things, we just want to stick with where we were.

"Those are questions that, us as a staff, we'll make sure we sit down and evaluate and look back over to see if there's anyway if we had to do it over again, if we would do it differently."

With Ohio State's offense stagnant for a good portion of the game for a variety of different reasons, it seemed fair to assume that Miller's dual-threat ability would have sparked some life into the Buckeyes.

But as time continued to wear on — particularly once the close game had reached the second half — it became more and more unlikely that the freshman signal caller with limited experience would get a shot to get into the game. Even though the staff opted to stick with Bauserman as the signal caller the entire game, Fickell wouldn't go as far to name the senior the clear starter ahead of Miller.

"I feel we have two quarterbacks and I've got confidence in both of them," Fickell said. "One just hasn't had as many opportunities just yet. I feel like we've got two middle linebackers, but one has to start, and one probably played a little more than the other.

"I know everybody wants to talk about the quarterback more so, but they know we have confidence in them. They know we need them both, and it's our job to make sure we can handle it the right way."

Bauserman got off to a great start in the game, capping Ohio State's first offensive possession on a 26-yard touchdown strike to Jake Stoneburner, seemingly picking up from right where he left off against the Zips.

Finishing the first quarter 5-of-9 for 62 yards and a touchdown, Bauserman finished the remainder of the game with only eight completions in 21 attempts for 127 additional yards.

But the coaching staff stuck with Bauserman even when Ohio State's offense had trouble moving the ball on Toledo's defense, a clear show of faith to the senior, who just like Miller is in his first go around with playing time.

"You just have to be ready and I approach it that every series that I am going to go in and lead the team," Bauserman said. "If you don't have the confidence, then you can't do that. I hope (leaving me in) shows that I have some consistency and leadership."

As quickly as fans were backing Bauserman after his performance against Akron, a stagnant offensive output had fans pouring boos onto the senior quarterback in only his second start.

Bauserman, who admitted missed on some throws he should have made, understands the frustration of the fans when Ohio State's offense isn't as prolific as it should be.

"They're going to be frustrated if we don't score just like any fans should," he said. "They're going to be upset if we don't score, but they have to understand that we are out there grinding and trying to make plays."

For now, Ohio State's depth chart may reflect both Bauserman and Miller as the starters, but the team understands the senior is the one the coaching staff has turned to as the leader responsible for guiding this team.

"I think that's what it looks like," senior center Mike Brewster said.

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