OSU for the win, Guiton for the save
COLUMBUS – He is Aroldis Chapman in shoulder pads and a facemask.
Ohio State back-up quarterback Kenny Guiton is a one of a kind relief pitcher and the Buckeyes’ team leader in saves.
For the second time in the last two seasons, Guiton rescued Ohio State after Braxton Miller went down with an injury when OSU hung a 42-7 loss on San Diego State on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Miller left on the game’s seventh play with what was reported as a sprained knee ligament after being hit on a running play.
Ohio State scored on Guiton’s first play at the controls, on a 7-yard pitchout to freshman Dontre Wilson, and rolled from there.
It was a repeat of Guiton’s performance in an overtime win over Purdue last season that started the legend of Kenny Guiton.
On that October day, Guiton entered the game when Miller was slammed to the ground and taken to the hospital to be checked for a concussion.
After an indifferent start, including a safety and an interception, he led Ohio State on a game-tying 61-yard drive in the game’s final 47 seconds with no timeouts and no previous experience in pressure situations. OSU then won 29-22 in overtime.
When Miller got hurt Saturday, the crowd became very quiet. And they weren’t alone.
“The stadium was not only very quiet, but our sideline was very quiet,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “But it’s amazing how much confidence they (Ohio State’s players) have in him.
Guiton completed 19 of 28 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns – both to wide receiver Corey Brown. He also ran the ball nine times for 83 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown run.
The Buckeyes scored on five of his first six series in the game and followed him to a 35-0 halftime lead, making it obvious the only thing San Diego State would go home with was the $1.2 million check it got for playing the game.
Brown said OSU’s players have a high level of confidence in Guiton.
“To be a backup quarterback and be voted a captain that shows how much everybody respects him. The offense doesn’t really skip a beat when Kenny goes in there,” he said. “They’re very similar quarterbacks except for the running side. There’s not a play in the offense Kenny Guiton can’t run.”
Defensive lineman Michael Bennetet expressed his confidence in Guiton a little more colorfully.
“You know what Kenny can do. I don’t think anyone is thinking, ‘Oh, crap. Kenny is going in,” he said.
Guiton said last year’s Purdue game put down the foundation for what he did against San Diego State.
“Oh man, that changed a lot. That changed a lot in my life,” Guiton said. “People started recognizing me, just knowing who I was on campus. People were thanking me for the game. I always thought that was crazy.
“Just getting extended time in a game like that helped my confidence a lot. It’s one thing to practice a lot and become good but it’s different when you’re actually in there doing it,” he said.
San Diego State coach Rocky Long also joined in the Guiton-athon, calling him “as good a back-up quarterback as there is in the country.”
“I don’t know how they decide which one starts to be honest with you. I think both of them (Miller and Guiton) are very good players. When one goes down, I don’t think they lose anything,” he said.
With the return of starting defensive backs Bradley Roby (suspension) and C.J. Barnett (ankle sprain), Ohio State’s defense appeared more aggressive than it had in a 40-20 win over Buffalo in the season opener.
OSU held San Diego State to -3 yards of total offense in the first quarter and just 99 yards in the first half. The Buckeyes had three sacks, including a strip sack and fumble recovery by Bennett, and interceptions by Doran Grant and Armani Reeves.
The next big question for Ohio State is if Miller will be able to play this Saturday against California or if Guiton will have to become a starter.
“I think there’s a chance he will be ready next week,” Meyer said.
He said Miller possibly could have played again against San Diego State after having his knee examined.
“But we all decided it was best not to,” Meyer said.