Through the first six games of the 2011 college football season, this much has become clear: Joe Bauserman is not a BCS conference-caliber quarterback.
Although the Ohio State coaching staff has failed to acknowledge this, starting Bauserman for the first three games of the season, its use of him as the back-up to freshman starter Braxton Miller has perhaps been even more baffling.
A week ago, the Buckeyes attempted to jump start their ineffective offense by replacing Miller with Bauserman in the fourth quarter of their 10-7 loss to Michigan State. The 25-year-old redshirt senior responded by getting sacked five times, completing only 50 percent of his passes, and scoring one touchdown with 10 seconds remaining in the game.
Against Nebraska on Saturday, Miller helped fuel the most exciting half of OSU offense since Troy Smith’s Heisman season, before being forced to leave the game in the middle of the third quarter with an injury.
Quarterbacks are supposed to have a short memory, but apparently the Buckeyes’ coaching staff does too, as it inserted Bauserman into the game to replace Miller. Bauserman played perhaps the worst quarter-and-a half of football in OSU history, completing going just 1-of-10 passing and throwing an interception as the Buckeyes blew the two touchdown lead they had when he entered the game.
Don’t get me wrong, the OSU defense deserves its fair share of blame as Nebraska erased what was at one point a 21-point lead, but also consider this: of the four complete drives in which Bauserman played at quarterback, three of them resulted in the Buckeyes running just three plays before punting the ball. That didn’t provide a whole lot of time for the OSU defense to rest between series which consisted of chasing around speedy Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead.
As the Buckeyes’ defense tried to get the ball back on the final drive of the game, OSU coach Luke Fickell came to his senses and began warming up third-string quarterback Kenny Guiton on the sidelines, only it was too little, too late as Nebraska managed to successfully run out the clock and win the game.
After the game, OSU offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said that Bauserman and Guiton would be “the guys” for the Buckeyes should Miller not be healthy enough to play in OSU’s next game.
I know that this is to be expected as it’s coming from the same man who inexplicably called 10 passing plays and eight running plays for Bauserman on Saturday, but really? Have we not already seen enough from Bauserman, who has shown a tendency to overthrow his intended receivers on the rare occasion in which his passes land between the sidelines?
Granted, we don’t know what kind of quarterback Guiton is, as there could very well be a reason as to why he’s behind Bauserman on the depth chart, but I have a hard time imagining that he could do any worse than how Bauserman has done over the past two weeks. Guiton was nearly as highly touted as a recruit as Miller was, but he provides a playing style more similar to him than Bauserman does and making him Miller’s permanent back-up could at the very least give the Buckeyes some semblance of an identity on offense.
OSU might not know what it could be getting with Guiton, but at this point, the unknown is looking like a much more attractive alternative to what we know Bauserman will provide, and that says all too much about the current sad state that Buckeye football finds itself in.