Shakeup Coming at Quarterback?
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Former Ohio State Head Coach John Cooper used to say, “If a dog is going to bite, he is going to bite as a pup.”
It sounds like Luke Fickell was taking notes, even back in his playing days. Here was his response Tuesday when asked if a young player might learn more by watching from the sideline than actually playing.
“I don't know about in football. You got to get out there and do it to do it,” Fickell said.
“I don't know exactly what you're referring to, but maybe you're talking about some of those NFL guys where they say a quarterback sits off two or three years to learn at 23 or 24 years old.”
Fickell has no plans of doing the same with freshman quarterback Braxton Miller, who was thrown into the heat of battle Saturday night against Miami.
“We want you out there playing,” Fickell said.
“That's why we put our guys on special teams as freshmen. Make a couple tackles, have a lot more confidence putting you in, too. So it's about playing. That's why we got to get guys a chance to play.”
Playing quarterback at Ohio State is not the same as being on special teams which is why everyone wants to know how Fickell plans to handle his quarterback situation a disastrous effort against the Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium.
“We don't know what the plan is just yet,” he said Tuesday during his weekly press luncheon.
“We're going to have these guys compete. We have an idea what's going to happen. Until we see them compete in practice, see how guys handle situations and roles and different things like that, we're not going to make a complete judgment just yet.”
It is hard not to pass judgment on how both quarterbacks handled the situation they were in Saturday night in Miami. For just the fifth time in 22 years, the Buckeyes completed only four passes in a 24-6 loss to the ‘Canes.
Another look at the film Sunday only reminded Fickell and his staff just how bad things were in that game.
“Again, we turned the ball over. That's the obvious,” Fickell said.
“We missed some shots when we had an opportunity to do it. That's obvious as well. But just the way we continued to battle. I don't know if I can point a finger, I didn't like when he did this, when he did that.”
Obviously the turnovers stuck out in Fickell’s mind. Miller had the one interception that was tipped on a pass to Jake Stoneburner. He also turned the ball over once on a fumble and had it squirt away from him two other times before he was able to corral it.
“I think that's pretty much something always with a young guy,” Fickell said.
“How do you hit quarterbacks in practice? You just don't do it. We took the (black no contact) jersey off of him for a little while in our jersey scrimmage. He did a good job of holding onto the ball. I don't think you can go and practice and try to hit him. You can strip the football, make sure they're aware of it.”
Miller didn’t seem to have that awareness against Miami, especially on the fumble late in the game. He left the ball far too exposed for this level, but he also showed he can make some plays with his feet.
Fans would like to see Miller get a shot at taking the first snaps of the game against Colorado this week, but Fickell wasn’t going to say who his starting quarterback would be.
“I don't know. I don't have the crystal ball. We know what we think. We're going to continue to see them battle and work at it,” he said.
“We're going to focus on day to day getting better. Does that mean we have to adjust and do some things? I think the most important thing, talking about the quarterback position, whether it's offense or defense, we got to find a way to get our best 11 on the field.”
Right now, that has to start with the quarterback position.
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