Tuesday, October 11, 2011

TUESDAY ROUNDUP: BAUSERMAN STILL NO. 2, BUT GUITON TO GET REPS

Kenny Guiton
The Buckeye Times/Josh Stueve
COLUMBUS — Generally when a football team is struggling, the most popular player on the team — according to the fans — is the backup quarterback.

This week in Columbus that statement rings oh-so-true.

Now, most of the time it's because the starting quarterback isn't playing up to par and the fan base is calling for next guy in line to take the reins. However, in Ohio State's case this week, the question isn't who should start — true freshman Braxton Miller has a firm grasp on that role if healthy — it's who should be the second man in line?

After Miller went down to injury midway through the third quarter of Saturday night's game at Nebraska, backup quarterback Joe Bauserman was inserted into the contest with a 27-13 lead. The fifth-year senior's play was far from inspiring, finishing 1-of-10 passing for 13 yards and an interception, as the Cornhuskers scored 21 unanswered points to win the game with Bauserman under center.

Now the Buckeye fans are clamoring for the OSU coaching staff to give sophomore Kenny Guiton a look-see at quarterback, if Miller is forced out of the game. The calls for Guiton to be given a chance have been so boisterous that he's been one of the most talked about people in Columbus on radio talk shows and internet social networks.

Ohio State senior linebacker Tony Jackson feels Guiton could be a formidable No. 2, if given the opportunity.

"Yeah (I think he could), just because of who he is as a person," Jackson said Tuesday at the Buckeyes weekly media luncheon in Columbus. "I know what kind of emotion he brings. I know if he got the opportunity, he would take it. I think he would do just as good a job as anybody. But, you know, that's not my decision. I'm not the quarterbacks coach."

According to this week's depth chart, Bauserman — not Guiton — is listed as Miller's backup against Illinois.

Buckeyes head coach Luke Fickell did state, though, that Guiton's reps will increase moving forward.

"Kenny will get some more reps and that's part of it," Fickell said Tuesday. "Kenny has been getting reps, and some of them have been at the quarterback position, some of them have been on special teams. 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."

However, Fickell insists he still has confidence that Bauserman can do the job if called upon again.

"Well, right now we're focused on Braxton, he's our quarterback," Fickell said. "But if Joe goes in there, then obviously we have to do some different things probably. The thing is, people are going to play you different, so you've got to figure out what it is that he can do well. The thing with Joe is he's an older guy, so he's been through a lot. He was a professional baseball player, and that might not have exactly went the way he wanted it to, so he's handled those kind of things, he's been through it.

"He understands it's a lot about attitude, and when you have your opportunities you've got to make the best of them. You never know, an opportunity is probably going to arise at some point in time for him again, and I'll have confidence that he'll make the plays that he needs to."

Bauserman guided the offense to just 39 total yards, zero points and three first downs in the final quarter and a half at Nebraska, after Miller led the team to 27 points, 312 total yards and 13 first downs in just a quarter more of work.

Fickell said Bauserman's poor play against the Huskers can be viewed as a joint effort.

"It's a tough situation to come into," Fickell said of Bauserman's situation at Nebraska. "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.

"Could he have done something? Yeah, obviously we could all have done better. We could have done better as coaches, he could have done better as a quarterback, we could have blocked better, we could have ran better in situations. His attitude is still right. He still wants to do his best for this football team, and he's going to continue to fight to get better."

Bauserman is 40-of-86 passing this season for 492 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. In the past four outings, though, he is completed just 12 of 40 passes for 140 yards, one touchdown and a pick.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Guiton hasn't seen any action this season at quarterback, and has attempted just two passes in his career to date.

SECOND HALF DEFENSIVE WOES ATTRIBUTED TO POOR TACKLING ... After surrendering just six points and less than 130 total yards to Nebraska in the first half Saturday night, the Buckeyes' defense fell apart the rest of the way.

The Huskers gashed the Buckeyes' defense in the second half, totaling 337 yards and four touchdowns in the final 30 minutes of play. And although the Buckeyes' offense didn't possess the ball for very long periods of time — following Miller's injury — it wasn't as if Ohio State's defense had to sustain huge, clock-grinding drives. Nebraska went on three touchdown drives of 80, 72 and 78 yards in an average of just 2:26 per series.

Fickell said the defensive woes could be attributed to poor tackling.

"I've not been a part of something like that, a little bit of an unbelivable snowball effect," Fickell said. "But it comes down to tackling. I think that's ultimately the biggest thing is in the first half we were as lights out as we've been and sound, and in the second half, going to the first touchdown, there was kind of a little bit of a miscue and a new formation they hit us on, and we just never regrouped again.

"I guess we got a little bit frantic and our tackling went down the drain, and I think that when you look back at it, defensively, usually when things aren't happening, when things are bad, it starts with your tackling, and that's where we're going to point a finger.

"Whether it's conditioning, whether we got tired, whether we got mentally drained, all those things factor into it, but ultimately we didn't get the job done."

HERRON WILL PLAY BIG PART IN RETURN ... Ohio State senior tailback Dan Herron, who missed the first six games of the season due to NCAA violations, will be in uniform this Saturday at Illinois for the first time since January's Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas.

Fickell said Herron will not start at tailback, but will be a big part of the game plan right away.

"Dan will get some touches," Fickell said. "You might see Dan initially on special teams, whether he's on the kickoff team, whether he's on the the return team, Dan is a big part of who we are. Not just what we've missed from him on the field, but in the locker room, off the field, in the huddle, just that personality, his passion, his confidence level.

"That's something that we are going to try and ride, and in order to do that he's going to have to have a hand in it and have a part of it, and he will."

Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde will start at tailback, according to this week's depth chart.

WILLIAMS LIKELY DONE FOR SEASON ... Senior defensive end Nathan Williams, who injured his left knee in the season opener against Akron, will have to have another surgery and will most likely miss the rest of the season, according to Fickell.

QUOTE OF THE DAY ... Asked if he has the authority to change the offensive play calls during games, Fickell jokingly replied ... "Yeah, why not? Who else would I have to check with, my wife?"