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Ohio State Buckeyes in Good Hands With Kenny Guiton if Braxton Miller Can’t Go
As the Ohio State Buckeyes prepare for their trip across the country to take on the Cal Bears, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is whether or not starting quarterback—and Heisman Trophy candidate—Braxton Miller will play. After suffering a sprained MCL in the team’s rout of San Diego State last week, Miller did not return to action—and the Buckeyes did not miss a beat with senior backup Kenny Guiton at the helm.
Guiton—a fifth-year senior out of Texas—has stood by idly as the Ohio State Buckeyes program has gone through massive change. Originally the final recruit of the 2009 class to get a scholarship one year after the Terrelle Pryor storm hit Columbus, Guiton red-shirted during the 2009 season in order to better position himself for future playing time.
Instead, Guiton found himself engulfed—not personally, but as a member of the program—in “Tattoo Gate”, and watched the head coach that recruited him, Jim Tressel, be forced out of the program. Prior to Tressel leaving, Guiton registered just five games played in 2010, and attempted just two passes—completing one of them. His stat line heading into the 2011 season read, 1-of-2 for five yards and one interception and four rushes for 21 yards and a touchdown.
Standing 6’3” and 208 pounds, a dual-threat quarterback like Guiton would certainly be in demand all over college football. However, Guiton decided to stick with the Ohio State program, even though 2011 saw yet another highly-touted, dual-threat freshman quarterback entering the scene in Miller. In fact, Guiton found himself buried on the depth chart yet again, as Joe Bauserman would win the job out of camp with Miller as the No. 2.
The 2011 season was a major year of transition for the Buckeyes, as head coach Luke Fickell led the team to a 6-7 record. Once again Guiton would find himself in a pivotal situation entering his red-shirt junior season in 2012, with a new head coach in Urban Meyer coming to Columbus. But Guiton would stick it out again, earning the team’s backup job and increased play during his junior season.
In that 2012 season, Guiton would play in nine games, complete 13-of-23 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns and toss one interception, while rushing the ball nine times for 32 yards. While his play was mostly mop-up duty, he would lead the Buckeyes to an overtime win against the Purdue Boilermakers after Miller was injured. On that day he completed 6-of-11 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown, none bigger than the drive that tied the game at 22-22 with three seconds left when the Buckeyes were down eight. Guiton’s touchdown pass to Chris Fields followed by a two-point conversion pass to Jeff Heuerman would not only continue the Buckeyes undefeated season, but show the world that Guiton was much more than a backup quarterback.
If Guiton had left the Buckeyes prior to the 2012 season, he likely would have never became the most well-known backup quarterback in all of college football. According to Guiton, the reason for his resurrection of sorts was Meyer and the new staff. Gution stated, “I really made a connection with the staff when they got here and I rededicated myself to getting better. Everything seemed to click last season. I learned a lot from the coaches and really developed my game.” Guiton continued, “It is huge motivation knowing my team and coaches have my back.”
As the Buckeyes head to Cal on Saturday, Guiton once again finds himself in a situation in which he may have to fill in for Miller. As a team captain and player who prepares for every game like he is starting, this task should not be too difficult for No. 13. After all, he has already achieved career highs in every statistical category during his time in Columbus just two games into the 2013 season.
Obviously Cal is a much better program than the San Diego State team Guiton completed 19-of-28 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns against, while rushing for another 83 yards and a 44-yard score. However, if Gution keeps up his high level of play from a week ago, there should be no reason the Buckeyes cannot continue their undefeated streak this Saturday.
At the end of the day, Guiton playing all depends on Miller’s knee. Meyer stated, “…I think he [Miller] could have played. But the thing that makes him dangerous is his wheels. And I don’t think it would have been wise, so we decided it was best not to. I think there’s a change he’ll be ready next week.”
Guiton is one of the most respected players in the Buckeyes program, and the type of leader that has all proven his ability to step in when called upon. If he gets that chance again on Saturday if Miller cannot go, do not be surprised if he puts up the type of numbers that make Meyer and the Buckeyes consider utilizing him in more than mop-up duty for the rest of the season.
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