The Ohio State Buckeyes are 3-0 and have the longest current winning streak in the FBS at 15 games. Still, they find themselves in an unforeseen quarterback battle in the early stages of the season.
Junior quarterback Braxton Miller entered 2013 as a favorite to compete for the Heisman Trophy after setting a school record with 3,310 total yards of offense and leading the Buckeyes to a perfect 12-0 record last season. However, injuries have slowed down Miller this season, allowing senior quarterback Kenny Guiton to have a breakout performance. Guiton recorded a career-high 276 passing yards and four touchdowns Saturday at California on his way to the Walter Camp National Player of the Week honors.
The biggest question in Columbus now is whether head coach Urban Meyer should go back to a healthy Miller or stick with the hot hand in Guiton?
Using video analysis from the first three games of the season, below is a statistical breakdown of who has the advantage in certain areas.
Both quarterbacks have improved their accuracy this season, despite having yet to play a conference game. Miller is completing a career-high 70.8 percent of his passes, more than 12 percent higher from 2012. Guiton is completing 67 percent of his passes this season, 11 percent higher from 2012.
But it’s been Guiton’s performance under pressure this season that could give him the edge. The senior has completed 65 percent (22-34) of his passes with two touchdowns and zero interceptions when blitzed by opponents. On the other hand, Miller has completed 58 percent (7-12) of such passes, including a pick-6 against Buffalo in the season opener.
Guiton has also thrown a better deep ball in the early stages of 2013. He’s completed five of his 12 passes that have traveled at least 20 yards in the air beyond the line of scrimmage with five touchdowns. Guiton completed each of his first two such attempts Saturday at Cal (both for a TD), including his 90-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive to Devin Smith that marked the longest play from scrimmage in Ohio State history.
In the pocket, both passers have been solid. However, it’s been passing with accuracy while on the run outside the pocket where Miller has edged Guiton. Both quarterbacks have thrown for a score when rolling outside the tackle box, but Miller has completed 75 percent of his passes, compared to just 50 percent by Guiton.
Guiton’s 2013 passing numbers:
Miller’s 2013 passing numbers:
On the ground, Miller and Guiton each provide Ohio State with arguably the best rushing quarterback in the conference, which is key for the Buckeyes in their zone read option attack. Although Miller is just 13 rushing yards shy of being the Buckeyes’ all-time leader among quarterbacks, Guiton has been the better rusher this season, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. Guiton’s success as a runner has come primarily on designed runs, where he’s had 15 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown. Miller has 10 carries for just 35 yards on such runs this season.
Guiton’s 2013 rushing numbers:
Miller’s 2013 rushing numbers:
While Guiton is a dynamic talent and has shown flashes this season, Miller has the edge in experience. Miller, who led the team in rushing and passing in each of the previous two seasons, has 24 starts (18-6) under his belt, compared to just one by Guiton.
Regardless of who’s the signal caller, the Buckeyes haven’t missed a beat on offense this season. They rank second in the Big Ten in scoring, at over 44 points per game, and their 504 yards of total offense per game rank third in the conference. Although the starting quarterback has yet to be announced, Ohio State will look to extend its win streak to 16 games Saturday against Florida A&M at noon ET on BTN/BTN2Go.
|About Ernest Tolden||Ernest Tolden is a Studio Researcher for Big Ten Network and a blogger who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. Ernest is a native of Chicago, Illinois. Follow our BTN stats team on Twitter via @BTNStatsGuys.|