On the same day that four key Ohio State Buckeyes returned, they lost the most important one, quarterback Braxton Miller.
The four returning players, center Corey Linsley, running back Rod Smith and defensive backs CJ Barnett and Bradley Roby, played well for the Buckeyes as they took on the San Diego State Aztecs. In the first quarter, however, things turned upside down for the Buckeyes when Miller scrambled and was awkwardly tackled. He was then taken to the locker room and was diagnosed with a left knee sprain.
As you might expect, Miller did not play for the remainder of the game, and backup quarterback Kenny Guiton stepped in and led the Buckeyes to a 42-7 victory. Guiton was 19-28 with 152 yards passing and two touchdowns. On the ground, Guiton rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown. It was a Miller-like performance.
If there’s one thing that Guiton proved, it’s that Miller doesn’t need to play next week against California. While Miller is no doubt the leader of the team, if he, the coaches and trainers don’t feel that he’s ready, Guiton is more than capable of stepping in and doing the job.
What could have been a season-ending injury will now do nothing more than hurt Miller’s Heisman chances. Head coach Urban Meyer reportedly said that Miller could have re-entered the game if need be, but Guiton had things pretty well under control. I’m sure most would rather have a Heisman run hindered rather than a National Championship run ruined.
It’s very likely that Miller will be ready to go next week against the Golden Bears. While you’d hate to take a team lightly, especially a team that nearly beat Ohio State in Columbus last season, Guiton is more than capable of standing up to the task.
While a gut reaction to losing a player like Miller is to run in terror, fear not Buckeye faithful, Guiton can pick up the slack if Miller needs to rest his knee next Saturday.