Sunday, September 15, 2013
Guiton makes most of debut as a starter
By Kyle Bonagura Special to ESPN.com
BERKELEY, Calif. -- Kenny Guiton had waited -- and prepared -- for the opportunity to start at quarterback for Ohio State for more than four years.
Boarding the plane to California, he sensed that opportunity was upon him -- he had practiced with the first team all week -- but it wasn't until coach Urban Meyer made it official on game day that he knew for sure.
"When I got the nod and everything, I was ready to go," Guiton said.
Kenny Guiton had a career-best passing day in Ohio State's win over Cal.
Was he ever.
Stepping in for Braxton Miller (who remained sidelined with a sprained medial collateral ligament he suffered last week against San Diego State), Guiton turned in a brilliant performance, leading No. 4 Ohio State (3-0) to a 52-34 win over California (1-2).
Buckeyes fans did their part in making it a welcoming atmosphere for Guiton, as nearly half the sold-out crowd of 62,467 at Cal's Memorial Stadium came decked in scarlet and gray.
"That was tremendous," Guiton said. "That's one thing Coach Meyer just told us about. We're blessed. We're all the way on the West Coast, and we have half the stadium filled with scarlet and gray."
It didn't take long for the crowd to sound decidedly pro-Buckeyes.
After Cal opened with a three-and-out, Ohio State needed just two plays to take a 7-0 lead, as Guiton found Devin Smith for a 90-yard touchdown -- the longest play from scrimmage in Ohio State history.
Less than a minute of game clock had ticked away before Ohio State got it back, and again, the Buckeyes needed just a pair of snaps to find the end zone, this one capped by a 47-yard pass from Guiton to Smith.
Four offensive plays, 167 yards of offense and a 14-0 lead less than four minutes in.
By the time it was over, Guiton had completed 21 of 32 passes for 276 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Not bad for a fifth-year senior who had just 317 career passing yards coming in. He also added 92 yards rushing on 14 carries as Ohio State piled up 608 yards of total offense.
OK, maybe that's a stretch, but Saturday's result couldn't have been much more lopsided for the Buckeyes if their Heisman hopeful had been on the field.
At minimum, Guiton's play Saturday -- and in long relief in the Buckeyes' 42-7 win against San Diego State -- gives Meyer more to consider when putting together his game plans.
"I think [Guiton] will be in the game a little bit [when Miller returns]," Meyer said. "[Guiton] has been throwing the ball better than he has and throwing the ball downfield, so that's something I'll need to think about."
Despite the loss, Cal true freshman quarterback Jared Goff continued a torrid pace to the start of his career. The nation's leading passer coming in finished 31-of-53 for 371 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. He became the first Cal quarterback since Aaron Rodgers in 2003 to throw for more than 300 yards in three consecutive games.
Afterward, Meyer made a point to find Goff and convey to the 18-year-old just how impressed he was.
"I'm glad we're not playing them for a while," Meyer said. "That quarterback is a good player, and that tempo and style of offense -- you can see why they led the nation at Louisiana Tech and why they lead the nation right now in throwing."
Three games into the Sonny Dykes era at Cal, and the Golden Bears already have adopted the reputation of Dykes' teams at Louisiana Tech: all offense, no defense.
And that doesn't bode well for Cal's first road game of the season in two weeks at Oregon.
Cal has been torched for 556.3 yards and 42 points a game through three games, and those numbers don't figure to improve after a trip to Autzen Stadium, where Cal plays a Ducks team averaging 672 yards and 61.3 points through its first three games.
"It will be a challenge, but our guys will be excited to play, and when you are playing against a good offense, defense or team, you get excited to play," Dykes said. "Your guys are fired up, and we know we are going to be challenged and get better."