The old football adage “if you play two quarterbacks then you don't really have any” doesn't seem to apply this season at Ohio State.
Quarterback was the last position the Buckeyes thought would produce questions this season. Junior Braxton Miller, who led OSU to a 12-0 record in 2012, was back, much improved mechanically and touted in preseason as a top-five Heisman Trophy candidate.
But early in Ohio State's second game, Miller suffered a sprained knee ligament. That was the sixth time in his past 11 games he has missed part of a game because of injury.
In came backup Kenny Guiton, with zero career starts and only one significant contribution to any Ohio State victory.
In 2Ĺ games, the fifth-year senior from Houston has completed 68 percent of his passes for 664 yards and 13 touchdowns with two interceptions. He has rushed for 186 yards and one touchdown. He also set school records for most TD passes in a game (six) and longest TD completion (90 yards).
Guiton is the Big Ten offensive player of the week for the second straight week, but he is likely to lose his starting job.
Coach Urban Meyer on Tuesday said Miller is in line to start Saturday night when No. 4 Ohio State (4-0) hosts No. 23 Wisconsin (3-1) in the game likely to determine the Big Ten Leaders Division champion.
“If Braxton has a great week of practice, he will,” Meyer said. “I don't want to name him a starter yet because I don't know. And I want to make sure I'm doing right by Kenny Guiton.”
So is there quarterback controversy in Columbus? Nope. Call it quarterback comfort.
“I am very comfortable with both quarterbacks,” Meyer said. “Braxton, like any player, will have a little rust. So I'm going to practice him real hard this week.”
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If Miller backslides at all, the staff will have full confidence in Guiton.
“Kenny Guiton is a guy who has shown me he can go in (and win), and I didn't know that,” Meyer said. “Even last year against Purdue, he came in and won, but I didn't see it in practice enough.
“I don't believe in 'gamers.' That word doesn't exist here. A 'practicer' is what we call them. And I just didn't see it.”
Guiton was a late addition to Ohio State's 2009 recruiting class. The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder was headed to Prairie View A&M until OSU offered.
Though he entered his final college season with only 15 appearances in games and 25 career passing attempts, Guiton was voted a captain, a sign of respect for his classroom, film room and practice habits.
His humility this season while entering the spotlight has been endearing, too.
“I never saw this coming,” Guiton told the Columbus Dispatch. “Being the backup, I knew I would play a role this season. But never in a million years would I have guessed I'd be a national player of the week.”
Speculation has arisen that Ohio State might try to play both quarterbacks at the same time.
“As of now,” Meyer said Tuesday afternoon, “we don't have a package where they both would be on the field. However, I'd like to get both of them in the game.”