First-year coach Luke Fickell ended the long-running debate about Ohio State’s quarterback situation on Tuesday when he announced that redshirt senior Joe Bauserman would probably take the first snap of the season on Saturday at Ohio Stadium against the Akron Zips.
Former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor left the university on June 7 and since then, Bauserman had competed with redshirt sophomore Ken Guiton, redshirt freshman Taylor Graham and true freshman Braxton Miller for the starting job.
Bauserman’s main competition for the starting job had been Miller, and Fickell said that the team would need both players this season.
Miller shouldn’t be sharing time at quarterback, though — the starting job should be his.
It’s hard to separate Miller and Bauserman based on the statistics they posted in two of the more meaningful opportunities they’ve had to impress this off-season.
For those who place value in statistics — Fickell likely didn’t for this particular decision — Miller was 14-for-31 passing for 199 yards and three touchdown passes in OSU’s April 23 spring game and the Aug. 20 jersey scrimmage. By comparison, Bauserman was 11-for-24 for 162 yards and two touchdowns.
When the quarterback discussion shifts from measurable to intangible factors, especially mobility, Bauserman can’t touch Miller.
During the Aug. 20 jersey scrimmage, Miller demonstrated the ability to scramble, avoid the pass rush and extend plays with his athleticism and quickness. Bauserman displayed his accuracy, but only when he had extended periods of time to throw.
While under pressure late in the jersey scrimmage, Bauserman threw an interception to junior defensive back Travis Howard.
Considering that OSU’s current crop of offensive linemen has allowed 12 sacks in both the spring game and the jersey scrimmage, Miller’s ability to scramble and throw on the run may prove crucial.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of any quarterback is gauged by their passing ability and the decisions they make with the ball in their hand. Miller should be preferred when compared against Bauserman in these areas as well.
Miller isn’t a run-happy, scrambling quarterback — he can throw. In fact, he averaged more than 14 yards per completion in the spring game and jersey scrimmage combined. And when he did scramble, Miller avoided a sack and simply threw the ball out of play in several instances. It takes maturity to know when to run and throw and when to do neither. Miller showed that he knows the difference.
No one can deny Bauserman’s familiarity with the OSU offense. In 2010, Bauserman was 16-for-22 passing for 174 yards and two touchdown passes. When it comes to standing under center in front of 105,000 rowdy OSU fans, there is no substitute for that kind of experience.
Don’t be too quick to dismiss Miller’s familiarity with the OSU offense, though. Miller enrolled in OSU early and has been studying the playbook throughout the spring and summer.
Senior wide receiver DeVier Posey, Miller’s roommate, said on Aug. 21 that he has been mentally preparing Miller.
“I make him focus on certain things at night and study certain things,” Posey said. “It’s just getting those mental (repetitions). That’s what gets you there.
“I feel like he (Miller) has been taking that role on very well.”
Miller is the quarterback of the future and the fact that he has performed at least as well as his competition this off-season should also make him the quarterback of the present. Fickell would be wise to heed the call of youth and get Miller on the field for meaningful snaps immediately.
The Buckeyes will be legitimate contenders for the both the Big Ten Leaders Division and conference championship game titles. When Fickell stepped to the podium on Tuesday and anointed Bauserman the starting quarterback, the chance to realize that potential was diminished.