This is not Urban Meyer‘s first rodeo. The coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes knows what it takes to win in college football and has put together a team right now in Columbus that can do a whole lot of winning. They face their first real test this weekend against the Wisconsin Badgers who pushed the Buckeyes to the limit last season. Meyer knows it will be a tough game and is looking for any competitive advantage he can, including playing head games through his depth chart.
Meyer raised a few eyebrows this week when he named preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton as co-starters for this Saturday’s game. Miller is returning from a knee injury suffered in Week 2 but by all accounts is healthy and ready to go. Guiton has filled in admirably, starting the last two games and leading the Ohio State offense without missing a beat. Meyer says that both his quarterbacks are looking good in practice and he just can’t pick between them yet.
“I think Braxton will probably start. He had a good day today, and it looks like he’s pretty close to 100 percent. I just wanted to make sure running the ball was good today, and he was and Kenny is good.
“We’re still working through exactly how we’re going to manage the game, but they both look good.”
Yeah, Urban Meyer doesn’t have a plan for the quarterback position like Jim Tressel hated wearing sweater vests. Meyer is a smart football coach, perhaps one of the smartest in the game right now. In situations like this one, he’s smart like a fox.
By listing Miller and Guiton as co-starters and saying they don’t know how they’ll handle snaps under center on Saturday, Meyer is simply forcing Gary Andersen and the Badgers to prepare for both quarterbacks. Miller is athletic and can make plays with his legs while Guiton has shown the arm to stretch the field in the passing game. They are two quarterbacks with different strengths that run the Buckeyes offense in different ways. Different ways that Wisconsin now has to prepare for.
Last year, the Wisconsin defense solved Miller in their overtime loss. They held him to 97 yards passing, 48 yards rushing and zero touchdowns. The Badgers focused on penning Miller in the pocket and harassing him with pressure and it worked great. If Wisconsin’s offense had been able to put up some points, they would have walked away from that game with an easy win.
Meyer is trying to open things up for his quarterback this time around. By forcing Wisconsin to split reps in practice and defensive meetings between two varying styles of quarterback, it takes away from some of the looks they’re able to put in and practice. Simplify the defense, and it makes reads easier for Miller under center which could mean some big plays for Ohio State.
This is the biggest game of Urban Meyer’s tenure so far at Ohio State because this win will give the Buckeyes the inside track to the Big Ten championship game and a possible BCS National Championship appearance. Meyer isn’t dumb and understands the significance so he’s going to take every advantage he can get. Even if that means listing Miller “or” Guiton as his starting quarterback leading up to kickoff.
Join Kris Hughes and Tyler Brett for even more analysis of the Wisconsin/Ohio State matchup live on the Google + College Football Pregame Rant this Saturday at 4 central time live online! We’ll be picking two fans — one from each team — to tell us why their team will win and add to a lively discussion on what we see as each team’s keys to victory. Join us!