NCAAF Team Report - Ohio State - INSIDE SLANT
Amid all of the excitement over QB Braxton Miller's incredible athletic ability and his knack for putting a jolt of electricity into what could have otherwise been a busted play, there was always one nervous thought dancing around in the minds of the Buckeyes' faithful.
They weren't quite sure what shape their team would be in, if by chance the ultra talented Miller got hurt. Well, now they know, and the answer is that the Buckeyes are in awfully good hands when backup QB Kenny Guiton trots out onto the field in a relief role.
In the most recent win over San Diego State, Miller was hurt on a fourth down run early in the first quarter and did not get back up. After having been forced off the field in the opener with cramps, this incident appeared much more serious.
Miller had to be helped up and eventually went to the locker room on a cart. His injury was diagnosed as a knee sprain and he was last seen wearing a knee brace and a baseball cap and watching the game from the sidelines.
Guiton came on and rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown, while also passing for 152 passing yards and three touchdowns. He is a senior who was elected a captain despite never being a starter, and Guiton has a sound grasp of the offense, and an apparent knack for rescuing the moment for his team.
"He is one of the leaders of our team. Everyone on the team knows what we are getting when he comes into the game -- a lot of confidence and a lot of swagger," WR Corey Brown said about his faith in Guiton. "When Kenny is out there, nobody is worried at all."
For Guiton, it is a badge of honor that his teammates don't wince when Miller has to come off the field.
"I take pride in the fact the offense almost does not skip a beat when I come into the game," Guiton said. "I just do my best to be a leader in that way. I let the team know everything is going to be okay."
After watching Guiton drop the clipboard and lead the Buckeyes to a 42-7 rout of his team, San Diego State coach Rocky Long is certain the Buckeyes have no worries about their backup quarterback as they go on the road to face Cal.
"He's as good of a backup quarterback as there is in the country," Long said. "I don't know how they decide which one starts to be honest with you. I think both of them are very good players. When one goes down, I don't think they lose anything."
NCAAF Team Report - Ohio State - NOTES, QUOTES
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
--QB Kenny Guiton stepped right into the breach after starter Braxton Miller went down with a knee injury very early in the San Diego State game, and Guiton excelled. If Miller can't go against Cal, we get to see Guiton as a starter, where the spotlight shines much brighter.
--RB Dontre Wilson turned some heads a month ago when he showed off his jets in fall camp as a true freshman. Now Wilson expects to make some dynamic plays every game. "I'm way faster than a lot of people," he said. "Now, I have to go out and prove it."
--DT Michael Bennett has emerged as the beast in the middle of the new-look defensive front. "He's a difference maker right now," Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said about Bennett. "I can't think of a guy playing better and leading better."
--S C.J. Barnett, who has made 25 starts in his career, returned to the field against San Diego State after missing the opener with an injury. Barnett led the Buckeyes with seven tackles against the Aztecs.
--DB Bradley Roby was back in the lineup against San Diego State after sitting out the first game under suspension following his arrest outside a nightclub this summer. Roby did not start, but was quickly a fixture in the secondary. Against pass-happy Cal, Roby should have a busy evening.
SERIES HISTORY: Ohio State is 6-1 all-time against Cal, and has won the last six meetings with the Bears. The Buckeyes visit Berkley for the first time since the 1972 season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We are getting close to the kind of defense that I have a dream of seeing, and that's aggressive. Our defensive line is playing at a very high level right now." -- Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer
NCAAF Team Report - Ohio State - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Scouting the running game: The Buckeyes continue to thrive, even with starter RB Carlos Hyde serving a three-game suspension to start the season, and QB Braxton Miller hobbled by cramps in the opener, and then missing nearly all of the second game with a knee sprain. The bruisers up front make the difference, and as long as that line is dominant, the name of the ball carrier is not that big a deal.
Scouting the passing game: QB Kenny Guiton could be the starter this week against Cal, as a knee sprain keeps QB Braxton Miller's status in doubt. How will Guiton respond when he is the man from the get-go, and not someone who is summoned to ride out on a white horse and save the day, as he has done several times in his career? The Buckeyes seem very confident he can move this team through the air when needed, and the playmakers on the outside are some of Guiton's biggest backers.
Scouting the run defense: The Buckeyes were a bit shaky in the opener as their 10 new starters on the defensive side searched for their footing, but it was a whole different deal last week. LB Curtis Grant said the demands the defensive players place on each other keep the unit very stout against the run. "I'm not comfortable at all, because playing in this defense you can't be comfortable," Grant said. "I want to get better. It comes along with playing alongside these guys. I have to be better."
Scouting the pass defense: The Bears are going to the air, with true freshman QB Jared Goff, who leads the nation with 930 passing yards. Meyer knows the Buckeyes will have to be ready for the no-huddle and the quick hitters. "The ball comes out so fast, the screens, the quick passes, so you don't really have a chance to get to the quarterback," Meyer said. "So how you disrupt their passing is you disrupt the quarterback's flow." Ohio State throws a veteran secondary in Goff's field of vision, and likes its chances to win more battles than it loses.
Scouting the special teams: Meyer hopes his gamesmanship from the opener against Buffalo, where he had the Buckeyes use odd formations to make two-point conversions after the first two scores, keeps Cal guessing when Ohio State lines up for an extra point. "There are a lot of reasons to do it. One is to get a big hit, which is what we did, and the other is just to drive them nuts as far as what they have to prepare for," he said.
--QB Braxton Miller has a strained MCL in his left knee and is listed as questionable for the road game at Cal.
--DE Adolphus Washington has a groin injury and is considered day-to-day as the Buckeyes prepare to play Cal.
--CB Bradley Roby, an All-American last season, returned to the playing rotation against San Diego State after missing the opener while serving a one-game suspension following an arrest this summer. Roby will return to the starting lineup against Cal.
--S C.J. Barnett sat out the Buffalo game as he rested his tender ankle, but he returned against San Diego State and led the team in tackles with seven.
--S Jamie Wood's career is over due to a shoulder injury.
--CB Adam Griffin's career has ended following shoulder surgery during fall camp. He is the son of two-time Ohio State Heisman Trophy winner and Buckeyes legend Archie Griffin.
--Starting RB Carlos Hyde will miss the Cal game as he serves the third and final game of his suspension that came about as a result of his involvement in an incident at a Columbus club where a woman first accused Hyde of striking her, but later declined to press charges.
--RB Rod Smith, Ohio State's No. 2 tailback who missed the opener while serving a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules, returned to the lineup against San Diego State, playing on special teams and in the backfield. Smith scored a touchdown on a one-yard carry in the game.