No football coach wants to deal with a quarterback controversy in the middle of a season, especially one that came out of the blue as the result of an injury. With the frequent injuries and unpredictable nature of football, it is sometimes hard to avoid.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer has some experience with a two-quarterback system. You might remember that his first national title with Florida came in 2006 with Chris Leak leading the Gators attack as the starter under center. There was another player in the mix, but the name escapes me right now.
Having been through a season with Chris Leak playing well and Tim Tebow emerging, Meyer knows exactly how to take advantage of having two talented athletes at quarterback. After replacing starter Braxton Miller—who went down with a knee injury—in Week 2, Guiton has thrown for 12 touchdowns.
In this article by ESPN.com's Austin Ward, which explains that there really is no controversy within the Ohio State program, Meyer acknowledges that Guiton has been brilliant in Miller's absence. He also knows that Miller is undefeated as a starter under his watch, coming in fifth in the 2012 Heisman Trophy voting:
I don’t know if [playing both together] is reality... I keep thinking of a way because I love both those players; I think they’re good players. But I don’t know. If Kenny was a better wide receiver than one of our receivers, he’d be playing wide receiver. If Braxton was a better running back or something -- but they’re not.
Having used the dual quarterback system to his advantage en route to his first BCS National Championship, Meyer has proved his ability to game plan around the talent on his roster. With a breakout performance over the past 11 quarters, Guiton has earned the right to at least occupy a few minutes of Meyer's time when the innovative coach is laying out the game plan in weeks ahead.
This video, which might remind some other Big Ten fans of another shade of red, shows former Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch.
He takes the snap, hands it off to the motion man who pitches to the reverse man and unleashes a dime to Crouch, who sneaked out of the backfield after handing it off. The motion and reverse action confused the defense, which had written Crouch off after the initial handoff. With two great athletes that play quarterback, the Buckeyes could create an entire playbook of trick plays.
So, if there is no controversy in Columbus, what can Meyer do in order to get Guiton on the field with Miller in order to maximize the Buckeyes' talented offensive attack.
A lot, actually.
Meyer's openness to exploring offensive situations and trick plays leaves the Buckeyes with plenty of options. Here is what some of those might look like.
In the following sequence you can see how well Clemson executed a double-pass against Florida State last season. Should Meyer implement some trick plays like this with two elite quarterbacks, the opportunities to catch the defense off guard are nearly limitless.
In this situation, Guiton would have the ball in his hands behind the line of scrimmage as a result of the lateral. This makes him eligible to throw a forward pass, which opens up the options for the offense.
Guiton can take it and run if his blockers have sold the screen properly, or he can retreat with a quick drop as he waits for the play to develop. If the defenders bite and zone in on him, he can find another receiver that is out on a route. One route would likely include the deep route up the far side of the field, which also does the job of clearing out the boundary corner, leaving room for Miller to take off on a wheel route that should be wide open.
The next option is dependent on how the defense has reacted to the play as it developed. If the oncoming defenders recognize the fact that the original toss is actually a lateral, they are likely to retreat in order to cover any potential deep route available. What that he does is allow Guiton to either use a pump-fake to threaten the defense over the top or just choose the right path and run for a potential big play.
After he receives the snap, he makes a quick lateral to the outside, where Guiton would be after dropping a couple yards on the snap. The play can go a number of different ways, depending on the flow of the defense. If the defense buys into the fact that the initial pass is a quick out or a variation of a screen, it will quickly close on the man with the ball.
The third and most interesting option is the kind of play you drew up in the dirt in the backyard as a child.
With the more athletic and versatile Miller under center, Guiton—the superior passer of the two—will be set out wide as the receiver. Once Miller releases the ball, he can pause for a moment and turn up field on a wheel route or stay put and await a return pass.
Ohio State has two stars at quarterback who will allow it to keep their opponents off balance and could continue to produce some impressive numbers through the air.
In a situation like this, with Ohio State having two outstanding athletes that are interchangeable between quarterback and wide receiver, Urban Meyer should be able to design a bevy of trick plays that could leave their opponents grasping at air.
With two very capable runners, the Buckeyes could also line up both Guiton and Miller in an option set that could lead to a straight running play, a reverse with the option to pass or an option-fake, leading to a step-back pass. Or, one of the talented quarterbacks could line up and be the target on a screen like this one from Eric Crouch and Nebraska.
The bottom line is that two is better than one, and Kenny Guiton showed the world what he is capable of. Despite his record-breaking output over the past couple of weeks, Braxton Miller is no Wally Pipp. With Urban Meyer behind the curtain, the Buckeyes should have everyone keeping a close eye on them throughout the Big Ten schedule.