Guiton Could Be Moved To Backup Role

The Ohio State football team suffered a heartbreaking loss at Nebraska after Braxton Miller's injury in the third quarter left the team's offense ineffective. The coaching staff could now turn to Guiton if Miller aggravates his injury.

Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell would prefer not to have to make an in-game decision regarding which quarterback would be next onto the field in the event Braxton Miller can no longer play.

But Fickell understands one thing – he better be prepared with the answer.

In effort to better gauge which backup quarterback gives Ohio State the best chance to win the game without Miller, Fickell has increased third stringer Kenny Guiton's reps in practice this week.

"Kenny will get some more reps and that's a part of it," said Fickell, who has also worked Guiton in on special teams in practice. "Kenny has stayed involved a lot and showed the team and everybody how important it is to him, and he'll get probably more and more opportunities in the weeks to come."

Though the head coach said Miller's injured ankle is expected to be healthy enough for the freshman to play in Ohio State's matchup with No. 16 Illinois Saturday, Miller could be one bad cut away from an aggravation to his injury.

Miller originally hurt his ankle in the third quarter of Ohio State's 34-27 loss at Nebraska last weekend, a game in which the Buckeyes held a 27-6 advantage midway through the third quarter. The freshman quarterback had played the best game of his career before the injury occurred.

But when Miller's injury prevented him from continuing as the team's signal caller, Fickell called on Joe Bauserman to lead the Buckeyes. Bauserman, however, was incredibly ineffective before finishing just 1-of-10 passing for 13 yards and Nebraska stormed back to snatch a much-needed victory from the Buckeyes.

"It's a tough situation to come into," Fickell said of Bauserman's performance. "You know, they changed their game a lot with what was going on, so coverage was a lot different when he was in there as probably when Braxton was in there. That has something to do with it, but ultimately it comes down to performing and making plays, and that's ultimately what we've got to evaluate people on."

If the evaluation is solely on making plays, there's no question as to why the coaching staff has turned to Guiton as a potential option. In every game Bauserman's appeared in since his solid performance in Ohio State's season-opening win over Akron, the senior has been generally ineffective and the offense has struggled immensely as a result.

In the loss to the Cornhuskers, Bauserman checked out of a run late in a tie game deep in his own territory in favor of taking a shot down field. Though it seemed to schematically be the right check, Bauserman under-threw his intended target Corey Brown – who seemed to have a few steps on the defenders – and it was intercepted.

Nebraska responded with a four-play drive that covered nearly 80 yards to score the game's winning touchdown. Though the defense let up 28-straight points, Bauserman has universally become the scapegoat for the loss after the offensive became incredibly ineffective.

"I am sure it is hard," senior center Michael Brewster said of Bauserman's situation. "He's not being negative around anyone or bringing anyone down. He is still going forward. I am sure it is hard for him, but he's doing what he came. He doesn't talk about it or complain about it."

To find some more security at the quarterback position, particularly at a time where the starter is in a fragile slate, the staff could turn to the redshirt sophomore Guiton, who has yet to take a snap this season.

After redshirting his true freshman season, Guiton made five appearances a year ago. Though he completed only 1-of-2 passing attempts - the incompletion being an interception - he showed explosiveness with his legs in a 15-yard touchdown run late in Ohio State's blowout win over Eastern Michigan.

His most impressive display was his performance in his first spring game following his redshirt year, tossing a game-winning touchdown to former wide receiver Taurian Washington in the final minute of the contest.

"He's kind of a mix, a little runner, little passer," Brewster said. "I know if he ever had to go in, given the opportunity I'm sure he would do fine."

Guiton is best know for how he got to Ohio State, joining the Buckeyes a last minute addition to the team's 2009 recruiting class after the program had missed out on other quarterback prospects Tajh Boyd and Austin Boucher.

Playing his high school ball at Houston Eisenhower, Guiton was planning on attending Prarie View A&M before the Buckeyes offered him the late scholarship. Now the quarterback could be one play away from leading Ohio State's offense on the road at undefeated Illinois.

"Because of who he is as a person, I know what kind of emotion he brings," linebacker Tony Jackson said of Guiton. "I know if he got the opportunity, he would definitely take it. I think he would do just as good a job as anybody.

"Kenny plays his role. Whatever the coaches ask him to do, that's what he does. He does it to the best of his ability, whether it's on scout team or whether it's on special teams. Kenny is a great guy, brings a lot of emotion."

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