Ready or Not, It’s Miller Time
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Luke Fickell waited as long as he could, but there was no sense waiting any longer to turn Ohio State’s struggling offense over to Braxton Miller.
“It's time to give him a shot,” Fickell said during his Thursday press conference.
After backing up senior Joe Bauserman for the first three games of the season, the true freshman out of Huber Heights Wayne High School will make the first start of his young career Saturday against Colorado (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.).
“He’s got a lot of ability and we’re going to give him some opportunities to play with his ability,” Fickell said.
“It’s what we think right now the team needs as we continue to move forward.”
According to Fickell, it was a decision the staff had been contemplating for a while, but they weren’t prepared to make the switch from the fifth-year senior to the true freshman until they felt the time was right.
“We’d been talking about, but I don’t think there was one specific time I woke up at three in the morning and called coach (Jim) Bollman,” he said.
“We gave it consideration every week. That’s what we said, it was a competition, always listed as an “or.” We didn’t think that right then at that time we didn’t think it was the best thing for the program.”
Obviously the thinking changed after last Saturday’s loss at Miami. While Miller didn’t exactly set the world on fire—he turned it over twice and recovered two more of his own fumbles—the Buckeyes simply could not move the ball when Bauserman was on the field.
He completed only two of his 14 passes for 13 yards in a 24-6 defeat, which likely prompted the switch to Miller—especially with Michigan State and Nebraska looming large on the schedule after this week.
That doesn’t mean Bauserman is out of the plans entirely.
“There’s some things obviously that Joe can still do and we need him to do, so we’re not focused on just one guy,” Fickell said.
“We still know we need both of them, and the thing is you gotta make sure you can handle these things in the locker room.”
Fickell wanted to make sure he was the one to tell both Miller and Bauserman about the switch. Miller obviously handled it well, but so did the guy he was supplanting as the starter.
“He took it like you would hope,” Fickell said of Bauserman.
“With the maturity of it knowing the most important part of it is what the team needs.”
The Buckeyes went through a similar transition after their devastating loss to USC back in 2008. Considering how long Bauserman has been in the program, and the fact he has been taking snaps with the first-team offense since the start of spring practice, there isn’t much upside to the 26-year old.
At this point, he sort of is who he is. What we’re going to find out is who Braxton Miller is. The Buckeyes are planning to play both quarterbacks against Colorado, but Fickell will take responsibility if they don’t.
“I don’t think that’s a big deal,” Fickell said of whether there was a consensus on the coaching staff about making the switch.
“What done is done, that’s the way we’re going right now.”
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