Braxton Miller Injury: Why the Buckeyes Offense Will Be Fine with Kenny Guiton
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was knocked out of Saturday's game against Purdue after falling hard on his left side while being tackled at the end of a long run.
The injury occurred at the end of the third quarter with the Buckeyes already in a perilous spot, down 20-14 against the Boilermakers. Ohio State would have to rely on backup Kenny Guiton to lead them to victory.
And Guiton did just that, leading a game-tying drive that culminated in a 2-yard touchdown pass to Chris Fields, followed by a successful two-point conversion on a throw to Jeff Heuerman to force overtime.
From there, Guiton led the game-winning drive, completing a 17-yard pass to Jake Stoneburner to set up the eventual touchdown, giving Ohio State a 29-22 victory in a game nobody expected to be close.
Seeing Braxton Miller go down was probably the last thing Buckeye fans wanted to witness, but it opened the door for Guiton to make an impact, and the junior quarterback seized the opportunity.
The game seemed all but over with 2:40 remaining and Purdue in possession after Guiton's interception, but he more than made up for the mistake with a 61-yard touchdown drive that took only 47 seconds.
With uncertainty surrounding the severity of Miller's injury, it appears to be Guiton's team for the foreseeable future, and that's not necessarily a bad thing for Ohio State.
For one, Guiton actually out-performed Miller on Saturday despite lacking the same dual-threat ability possessed by Miller. In one quarter of play plus overtime, Guiton threw for one more touchdown and was also more efficient than the Heisman candidate.
Guiton also showed that he has the clutch gene, coming into a pressure-packed situation and getting the job done in front of a crowd that appeared to be more nervous than Guiton himself.
If Guiton had any jitters, he certainly didn't show it.
That's a trait that will be put to the test should Miller fail to return in time for next week's game, as the Buckeyes will face their biggest challenge yet when they travel to Happy Valley. Penn State is one of three remaining teams to be undefeated in Big Ten conference play.
The stunning comeback Guiton led Ohio State on Saturday will be huge for his confidence heading into next week's matchup, as having his nerves under control will be key while playing in a hostile environment like Beaver Stadium.
And should Miller's injury prevent him from returning this season, games against a rejuvenated Wisconsin team and rival Michigan to close out the season would be a challenge for the faint of heart.
Luckily, it appears Guiton can not only handle adversity, but he also thrives in it.
With Miller out, the Buckeyes lose not only their starting quarterback, but also their top rusher. This will give the Ohio State running backs a chance to step up as well.
Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall both average over five yards a carry, and should they be able to maintain that pace in the coming weeks, they will be a great compliment to Guiton, who appears to be more of a pocket passer.
There will also be more focus on Ohio State's receivers, but with guys like Devin Smith and Philly Brown to throw to, Guiton has talented players he can rely on in the passing game.
It will take a collective effort from the Buckeyes offense to replace Miller, but they have plenty of weapons that were underutilized while most of the offense was ran through Miller. This is their chance to step up and be heard.
Whether the apparent head or neck injury Braxton Miller sustained will keep him out for an extended period of time or not, the Ohio State offense will be fine with Kenny Guiton manning the ship.
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