As the temperatures climbed and the game against Buffalo dragged on, the Ohio State football team began to feel the effects of the heat.
Many, including junior quarterback Braxton Miller and junior linebacker Ryan Shazier, were forced out of the game because of cramping and dehydration.
But a player going out because of exhaustion is not an excuse to suspend the game, so the Buckeyes were forced to rely on backup players to step into big roles.
Familiar with receiving playing time in tight games, as seen in OSU’s overtime victory over Purdue last season, redshirt senior quarterback Kenny Guiton came in Saturday after Buffalo cut the lead to 30-20 and Miller came out with cramps.
Guiton said he is always prepared to play in case something happens, especially on a day like Saturday.
“Cramping is something you really can’t control and I knew I needed to be ready at any time, being as how much we run the QB and everything,” Guiton said. “I know I needed to be ready.”
The one drive Guiton was a part of led to a touchdown and a 17-point lead over the Bulls.
Although it was the touchdown that goes in the box score, Guiton attributes the points to his teammates who helped set it up.
“I think the plays leading up to it made it easier for the touchdown because we were running the ball and we had a few runs for first downs and the next thing you know, we just hit ‘em with the play-action,” Guiton said. “Everybody came up and we hit (senior wide receiver Chris Fields) right behind them.”
Redshirt-senior center Corey Linsley received the start, but was forced to sit out a majority of the game because of a foot injury sustained last season.
Sophomore center Jacoby Boren, the third Boren brother to play for the Buckeyes, came in and played for the rest of the game.
Redshirt-senior running back Jordan Hall said Boren was successful as a replacement, but he has as many expectations as Linsley does.
“Jacoby (Boren) did a pretty good job too,” Hall said. “But it’s Ohio State, so next person up.”
On the other side of the ball, players like redshirt-sophomore safety Ron Tanner and freshman defensive lineman Joey Bosa stepped up when the starters came out for a rest.
Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell praised Bosa’s talent and ability to come in and play whenever they needed him.
“We felt really confident about however many snaps Joey Bosa had to play. He’s a guy that’s proven it,” Fickell said. “He’s done a great job against our offensive line. To me, he’s as good as there is in college football, and he’s going to be well prepared to help us throughout their entire season.”
Coach Urban Meyer has been impressed with Bosa so far this year and sees him playing more in the future if he continues at his current pace.
“On defense, Joey Bosa has played very well,” Meyer said. “He’s earning a lot of time in the rotation. I’m really impressed with him.”
Tanner, who recorded an interception against Buffalo, along with senior redshirt-safety Corey Brown filled in for the injured redshirt-senior safety C.J. Barnett who was ruled out just before kickoff.
Fickell said Tanner played well, but that injuries are bound to happen during a long football season and players need to be ready.
“C.J. Barnett was down, nobody ever said a word about it and Ron Tanner steps up and does a great job for us. I think that’s the mentality we want to have because this is going to be a long season,” Fickell said.
Meyer said he liked seeing the younger players on the field, and said it will help them in the long run to receive in-game experience.
“The good thing is, we have a chance to get better,” Meyer said. “A lot of new players on defense. When Shazier cramped up, we were down there. Christian Bryant was basically our only veteran player out there. I’m anxious to see a lot of improvement.”
Certain players may not receive as much playing time in the future, particularly after players like Barnett and redshirt-junior cornerback Bradley Roby return to the field. Roby was suspended for one game due to his involvement in an incident at a Bloomington, Ind., bar in July.
Fickell appreciated how the new players handled themselves when things did not go their way Saturday.
“We kind of talked about it being Christmas morning, we got a lot of new guys opening presents, I knew what was inside, but I wanted to see what happened when all of a sudden something didn’t go well,” Fickell said.
Ohio State will host San Diego State (0-1) Saturday at 3:30 p.m.