The 2011 season is less than three weeks away and there is no determination of who will start under center. At least in the public eye. It appears that things are locked down to two candidates with Braxton Miller and Joe Bauserman emerging.
But who will be the quarterback from the word go? Will Luke Fickell go with the veteran of the program or give the keys to the car to a true freshman?
BuckeyeGrove.com, however, asks the big question on everyone's mind when it comes this position battle.
FIGHTING WORDS QUESTION: If it is a two QB race, who should start the opening game against Akron, Joe Bauserman or Braxton Miller?
I get the argument in favor of Joe Bauserman. He's a veteran, he knows the system, he can manage the game, etc.
I don't agree with them, though.
You start the better quarterback, period.
Bauserman is not significantly better - and maybe not better at all - than Braxton Miller. The bottom line is winning, and Miller gives Ohio State the best chance to win. He can make more throws, he is elusive with his feet and he can create things when plays break down.
The experience factor is irrelevant. Yes, Bauserman has been in the system for five years. He also played crucial minutes at Illinois last season and proved he doesn't have the mettle to step up in a big situation. Why would you not start the freshman with loads of potential? Miller put his Huber Heights Wayne on his back last season and nearly led them to a state title.
He enrolled with the mindset of redshirting and then taking over in a year or two. Instead, because of unforeseen problems, he was thrown into the mix immediately. His response has been exactly what you want in a field general. Miller has shown a propensity for learning and expanding on his knowledge of the quarterback position.
Through nearly two weeks of fall camp, he has gone from being fourth in line in reps to splitting snaps with the first team. Not only would Miller give the Buckeyes a shot at winning games in 2011, it would benefit them in 2012 and beyond.
In his only game action - the spring game - Miller gave Ohio State fans a glimpse of his endless potential. Luke Fickell has a big decision to make. The quarterback is clearly the most important part of a football team. If Fickell plans on residing in Columbus in 2012, sending Miller out under center against Akron would be a good start.
I know that it may be the unpopular decision, but is it the best decision to put the ball in the hands of a true freshman from the word 'go'? Needless to say, Luke Fickell has everything on the line with his one-year job audition, and with so many people rooting for Ohio State to lose, the pressure of the world is on the shoulders of this team.
The Bucks are going to be younger than young at the wide receiver position in 2011, and is it the most prudent decision to put another 'kid' in the mix as well? Braxton Miller has all the tools to be very, very successful at Ohio State, but rushing him into the mix too soon could permanently stunt his development. And if this race is down to a two-horse race that leaves Joe Bauserman as the clubhouse leader.
Sure, the senior signal caller has not set the world on fire during his time with the Buckeyes. But when has he been asked to? When has he had the first team offensive line with him and the first time receivers? This is not a complete endorsement of Bauserman being the best candidate moving forward. He might not even be the best candidate of the four quarterbacks on the team. But who is the most game-ready going into the opener?
Ohio State's offense is going to have a lot of work to do and just as important as putting points on the board for this team will be giving the defense chances to breathe by having prolonged drives. No matter how solid your defense is it will suffer if you are running a high-risk offense that could fizzle with three-and-outs.
Mix the two quarterbacks up if you have to, alternate some series, ease Miller into the offense and give him a chance to succeed. With two MAC opponents out of the gate, there will be plenty of opportunity before things ramp up at Miami. But this is not time to make a statement with Miller and run the risk of hindering his growth.