Miller to Start at QB for Buckeyes - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Miller to Start at QB for Buckeyes

By RUSTY MILLER

AP Sports Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - An 18-year-old true freshman is being

given the keys to the Ohio State offense.

Interim coach Luke Fickell made it official on Thursday when he

announced that Braxton Miller would take over as the starting

quarterback against Colorado on Saturday.

Fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman had started the first three

games for the Buckeyes (2-1), but the passing game - with Bauserman

and Miller splitting time - was almost nonexistent in Saturday

night's 24-6 loss at Miami. The two quarterbacks combined to hit

just 4 of 18 passes for 35 yards with an interception (by Miller),

with all four completions going to running backs.

"It's a 'give him a shot,"' Fickell said moments after

disclosing the decision on his weekly radio show. "The reality is

it is a big thing. But we need both of them. The way we handle it

is key. But it's time to give him a chance."

The switch comes at a symbolic crossroads for the Buckeyes, who

climbed as high as No. 15 before stopping a late Toledo drive to

pull off a narrow 27-22 win and then falling flat in their first

regular-season game ever in Florida.

Ohio State fans have been clamoring for more of Miller - a

five-star recruit from just an hour down Interstate 70 in suburban

Dayton - since he enrolled at the school last January.

Earlier this week, Colorado coach Jon Embree said far too much

emphasis is put on who starts at the position.

"I hate cliche, but too much credit is given to the quarterback

when it is good and too much blame when it goes bad," he said.

"It takes a lot of people. I don't think it is just a one-guy

problem with the passing game (at Ohio State). The other games they

were doing OK with it, so I'm not buying the sky is falling in

Columbus."

Miller, who is listed as 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, received

one-quarter of the snaps in spring ball, with Bauserman, redshirt

freshman Taylor Graham and third-year sophomore Kenny Guiton also

getting equal playing time in workouts.

Shortly after preseason camp opened in early August, Bauserman

and Miller were separated as the top two and they've been dueling

ever since. The depth chart has listed them as co-starters all

season.

Bauserman had spent the last two years watching from the

sidelines as Terrelle Pryor played almost every down for teams that

went 11-2 and 12-1.

But everything changed during a tumultuous few months during

which decadelong coach Jim Tressel was forced out of the job,

several players were suspended and Pryor gave up his senior season

to jump to the NFL. All or much of that was a result of an NCAA

investigation that found that players had accepted cash and tattoos

from a local parlor, and that Tressel had knowledge of it and yet

played players who he had reason to know might be ineligible. (Ohio

State has since vacated the 2010 season, in addition to other

sanctions, with still others possibly on the way.)

With Pryor - who also made his first start as a true freshman in

the fourth game of the 2008 season - suddenly gone, the Buckeyes

were left with inexperienced quarterbacks who had seen almost no

action under pressure.

The 25-year-old Bauserman had a banner opener, hitting on 12 of

16 passes for 163 yards, while Miller was 8 of 12 for 130 yards in

the second half of a rout over Akron. Even though Fickell and

offensive coordinator Jim Bollman asserted Bauserman and Miller

would share the job, Miller curiously never left the sidelines

against Toledo while Bauserman did just enough (16 of 30 of 30 for

189 yards and a touchdown passing) to get the Buckeyes a victory.

But in high heat and humidity against an active Hurricanes

defense on Saturday night, nothing went right. Bauserman hit on

just 2 of 14 passes for 13 yards, while Miller had his only two

completions (in four attempts, for 22 yards) on the final two

plays.

Bauserman and the offense were booed by Ohio State fans during

the Toledo game because he elected to throw the ball away rather

than chance a turnover. Ineffective at times, he still had no

interceptions and no fumbles this season.

Miller, however, has lost two fumbles and thrown an interception

in far less playing time.

But with the offense stuck in neutral - or maybe reverse -

during the Miami game, Fickell - whose job is not guaranteed beyond

this one season - came around to thinking that maybe the time was

right to sink or swim with a young player.

"He's got a lot of ability," he said of Miller. "We're going

to give him some opportunities to play with his ability. But,

again, it's what we think right now the team needs and the way

we'll continue to move forward. There's some things, obviously,

that Joe could still do and we need him to do. So, we're not

focused on just one guy."

He stressed that the problems at Miami were spread throughout

the whole team and on both sides of the ball and special teams. But

at the same time, he felt the move to a new quarterback was

necessary - even though Bauserman will still play.

"I've said it a million times - we have a plan," Fickell said.

"But this is where we are right now. And we know that Braxton is

the guy who's going to start this game."

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