Saturday, September 14, 2013
Gameday: Ohio State-California
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There are no qualms about the next guy in line behind Braxton Miller.
Ohio State has plenty of evidence that Kenny Guiton can get the job done whenever he's called on to fill in for the starting quarterback, and the heady veteran gives the offense the luxury of running the same system without having to scale back its aggression.
But for all the confidence Urban Meyer has in his second option at quarterback, putting Guiton in the game does bring up one concern for the Buckeyes coach that has nothing to do with what he might be missing with Miller in the lineup. If Guiton is once again pressed into action due to Miller's knee sprain today at California, the No. 4 Buckeyes are potentially one play away from having to put somebody without the senior's knowledge and experience on the field to keep a national-title bid on track.
"We always have Plan B ready," Meyer said. "Now when Plan B is in the game, that means Plan C is not too far off, and that's one we're working on as well right now."
Any team has to give something up the further down in the pecking order it goes, and obviously the Buckeyes are no exception.
When Ohio State goes from Miller to Guiton, it loses the otherworldly athleticism that made the starter a fifth-place finisher for the Heisman Trophy last year, some of the threat of the quarterback rush and a bit of arm strength as well.
But if the Buckeyes for some reason need to go from Guiton to Cardale Jones, they'll be turning the offense over to a redshirt freshman who has never taken a snap in a meaningful situation, doesn't have nearly the same understanding of the playbook and would likely force a few tweaks to the game plan to take advantage of his physical rushing style over perhaps some passing skills that are still developing.
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Meyer could also turn to true freshman J.T. Barrett, who has impressed from his first day on campus with his ability to absorb the system and a set of leadership skills that have already drawn comparisons to Guiton. Given the uncertainty that has surrounded their star and the knee issue that knocked Miller out after one drive in the win over San Diego State, the Buckeyes have certainly had to spend some time this week weighing their options.
All that planning may well go out the window if Miller once again proves his resiliency after a health scare, a game-time decision goes his way and he winds up leading the offense for all four quarters against Cal. But until Meyer makes that call, he'll still be thinking about every potential scenario at the most important position on the field.
"[Miller and Guiton] are both similar players, so it’s not like there’s a whole different game plan," Meyer said. "Now, Plan C -- Kenny is Plan B -- Plan C is a concern, just the width of what we can ask those guys to do, whoever it’s going to be.
" ... Plan C and Plan D are real close to each other right now."
The best-case scenario for Meyer is to keep them both real close to him on the sideline, leaving everything beyond Plan B irrelevant against Cal.