Bauserman benched in favor of Miller

Ohio State quarterback Joe Bauserman (2nd R) scores a touchdown against the University of Akron during the first quarter of their NCAA football game in Columbus, Ohio September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Luke Fickell may not have figured it out during the debacle in Miami, but with more time to study film and think about the matter, he has decided to start Braxton Miller at quarterback this Saturday against Colorado in place of Joe Bauserman.

Maybe it’s inexperience, but he should have done more to address the situation during the game against the Canes. It was clear that Bauserman’s abilities couldn’t carry the Buckeyes against a talented defense. Miller got some playing time, but it was clear that Fickell and the coaches wouldn’t let him do much besides running a wildcat-type offense.

It’s time to let Miller play and learn under pressure. If the Buckeyes lose some games along the way – so be it.

At least Fickell did the right thing. Many of us are down on him after last week’s game, so now he has a chance to resurrect his head coaching career. He’s young, just like Miller, and he’s going to make mistakes. Hopefully this is a sign that he can recognize mistakes and correct them quickly.

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Is Luke Fickell in over his head?

Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell watches his players prior to their NCAA football game against the University of Akron in Columbus, Ohio September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

I’m rooting for Luke Fickell. While many Buckeye fans are holding their breath hoping for Urban Meyer in 2012, I’m hoping that Fickell shows Buckeye Nation that he deserves the job.

That said, last night’s loss to Miami was an embarrassment, and much of the blame has to be put on the young coach.

Like many fans, I was somewhat fooled by Joe Bauserman’s performance in the opener against Akron. But last week against Toledo we started to see some problems, and it became clear to even the casual observer that the Buckeyes would need to be more aggressive with Braxton Miller in order to beat the good teams.

Based on last night, it seems that Fickell has no clue as to how to manage quarterbacks or tight games in general. Buckeye quarterbacks completed just 4 of 17 passes for 36 yards. That’s just stunning incompetence. Fickell and the coaches did nothing to let the quarterbacks establish a rhythm. For Miller, they tightened up and panicked after he threw an INT and then turned him into a one-dimensional running quarterback. He made some nice plays, but the took away the pass and made it clear they had no confidence in him.

They need to develop Miller, because you can’t beat good teams with Bauserman. I would have been fine with a loss last night had they unleashed Miller and let him learn and make mistakes.

Fickell also seemed clueless at the end of the game, as he didn’t use any timeouts as Miami ran out the clock. Sure, the game was over, but it’s like he gave up.

Fickell needs to wake up and get Miller in there for good. If he doesn’t, this season will be a lost season, and we’ll have another head coach next season.

5 observations about Ohio State’s opener

Ohio State tight end Jake Stoneburner (11) scores a touchdown as he is chased by University of Akron safety Josh Richmond (L) during the second quarter of their NCAA football game in Columbus, Ohio September 3, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Following a brutal off-season dominated by tattoos and the departure of Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor, many people were counting out the Buckeyes for 2011. Others were just a little uncertain about what the Buckeyes had for this season. A few like Kirk Herbstreit and some other experts were willing to go out on a limb and say that the Buckeyes would be a force again in the Big Ten.

You can’t draw too many conclusions from watching one game against a very weak Akron team, but there was plenty to get excited about after one game.

1. The Buckeyes have two good options at quarterback

I was very skeptical about Joe Bauserman but he looked very good yesterday. He played against a weak defense and had open receivers, but he consistently hit them. He also showed some mobility and solid leadership. Meanwhile, Braxton Miller looked very good as well, and you could see why he was a highly touted recruit. He has a great arm with a quick release, and he’s also very athletic. He also has a quiet and clam demeanor about him, which makes him look like a potential leader. At the end of the game, Chris Spielman noted that we didn’t see one bad throw from either quarterback. After watching Terrelle Pryor consistently miss easy throws this was a refreshing change.

I can see them using both quarterbacks for a while and that’s just fine with me. I don’t compare this to the Stanley Jackson/Joe Germaine fiasco where Germaine was clearly the better option. Here, we have a 25-year-old senior who seems to be rising to the challenge and a very talented true freshman who has a ton of upside. I think we’ll need Miller to beat teams like Wisconsin and Nebraska, but Bauserman gives the Buckeyes a security blanket and gives Miller room to grow into the role of team leader.

2. The Buckeyes are loaded at running back

We knew that going in, but this unit was put to the test as only sophomore Carlos Hyde and freshman Rod Smith were available for the game. Frankly these guys reminded me of Beanie Wells and Eddie George as they’re both 235 pounds and they ran with authority. There’s no doubt that Fickell is going to stress the running game this year, and it’s clear he has the horses to do it. The biggest issue will be finding carries for everyone when the rest of the guys return.

3. The receivers will be fine

They’re young an inexperienced, but the receiving corps looks fine. They didn’t drop any passes and Evan Spencer made a spectacular one-handed catch. Meanwhile, tight end Jake Stoneburner looks like a real threat as he pulled down three touchdowns and provided a big target for the QBs.

4. The defense keeps on rolling

We really don’t know how good this defense can be, but again we saw the size and athleticism you would expect from a Buckeye defense. This team is still loaded with athletes and all the off-season BS just doesn’t matter.

5. Luke Fickell is ready

Again, one game means nothing. But Luke Fickell had the Buckeyes ready to play, and he’s pushing this team to excel. He’s focusing on the running game, yet he’s smart enough to let the run set up the pass. I want him to succeed, because we don’t need to be that program that looks to the big-name coach as a savior. We have the recruits, and Fickell bleeds scarlet & gray, so he should be given every opportunity to lead this program for years to come.

I think many people around the country took notice yesterday. Even though it was an Akron game, the Buckeyes served notice that they are still loaded with talent. Hopefully the NCAA won’t rain on this party with idiotic sanctions.

Jim Tressel sticks by Terrelle Pryor

Not surprisingly, Jim Tressel has indicated he is not planning on benching Terrelle Pryor or giving backup Joe Bauserman any playing time. As I mentioned the other day, Tressel has to consider benching Pryor at some point given the way he’s playing, but that none of us should hold our breath.

Tressel did what he had to do. If he still has any hope of Pryor emerging as a good quarterback for Ohio State, he needs to publicly support the kid when he’s down.

That said, there’s no doubt in my mind that Tressel in running various scenarios in his head. Pryor seems to be getting worse, and at some point Tressel’s hand will be forced if Pryor doesn’t improve. Naturally, Tressel will do all in his control to prevent that scenario, but he’s certainly thought it through.

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