Posted by Adam Jacobi
With the wholly unsurprising but still consequential news that Terrelle Pryor is leaving Ohio State, there's now a rather large, quarterback-shaped hole in Ohio State's starting lineup. Finding a replacement QB isn't exactly a new challenge for the Buckeyes -- Pryor was suspended for the first five games of 2011 anyway -- but the dynamic shifts somewhat now that Pryor won't be coming to the rescue in Week 6. It's one thing to be a five-week placeholder; it's another to be a true No. 1 quarterback.
With that in mind, here's a look at Ohio State's new quarterback situation.
Joe Bauserman, Sr.
PROS: Joe Bauserman is the most seasoned of the Ohio State quarterbacks now, and as always, that means he's old. Bauserman is 26, in fact, having pursued a baseball career after high school instead of enrolling in college. And being that Bauserman's 26, he's further along physically than his teammates are. From a foot-speed standpoint, he's not the most athletic of the quarterbacks, but he's experienced, has good footwork in the pocket, has the football IQ to look off defenders, and has the arm to make plenty of throws.
CONS: Bauserman has never distinguished himself as a passer during his time at OSU, and his 4-11, 42-yard performance in the spring game did little to quell concerns that he's actually just mediocre. Obviously, he'll do better than a 36% completion rate and 3.8 yards per attempt over the course of the 2011 season -- he went 16-22 for 174 yards in 2010, after all -- but as pure upside goes, Bauserman might be last on this list. Fortunately for Bauserman, OSU needs a quarterback right now, not in five years.
Braxton Miller, Fr.
PROS: If Bauserman's ineffective at any point, Ohio State will probably go next to Braxton Miller, a tantalizing true freshman prospect who was rated the top quarterback in last year's crop of recruits by Tom Lemming. Miller has a frame more like Troy Smith than Terrelle Pryor, but that's fine, because Smith did win a Heisman, after all. More importantly, Miller's athleticism has drawn many more comparisons to Pryor.
Miller enrolled early at OSU in order to start getting acclimated to the offense; that's welcome news for the Buckeyes, because if Bauserman struggles early on, the Columbus faithful will probably be clamoring to see Miller under center. You can't balme them, either; Miller is electric in the open field, and he's already a competent passer.
CONS: Miller is still just a true freshman, though, so either the coaches will have to substantially dial back the offense for Miller, or he'll likely struggle too. He's probably a year away from really getting up to speed, but that's a luxury Ohio State doesn't have right now. Starting and struggling in 2011 may do wonders for Miller's on-field maturation process, but that doesn't make him the best option in 2011.
Kenny Guiton, So.
PROS: If it's athleticism that interim head coach Luke Fickell wants and Miller's experience remains an issue, however, OSU could also turn to Kenny Guiton. Guiton is a dual-threat QB with speed to burn. He's got all the intangibles a coach could want in a quarterback, and he has performed pretty well in spring game situations thus far. With Terrelle Pryor leading the team, that hasn't led to much playing time for Guiton -- just mopup duty behind Bauserman last year, in fact -- but that's probably about to change.
CONS: Guiton is in his third year with the program, and generally by Year 3, there's a pretty good sense of what a quarterback's going to be capable of. For Guiton, the passing acuity doesn't appear to be where it needs to be yet. His experience may make him a better option than Miller on Day 1, as the mobile QBs go, but that's a gap that'll move substantially in Miller's favor over the course of that freshman season.
Taylor Graham, RFr.
PROS: If quarterbacking were a matter of just looking the part, the OSU job would be Taylor Graham's to lose; Graham has the frame of an NFL quarterback, tall and strong. He's got the arm to match, too, with the ability to make just about any throw in the Buckeye playbook. He's even got the pedigree to succeed: his father is Kent Graham, a former Ohio State and NFL quarterback.
CONS: What Graham doesn't have is experience; he's just a redshirt freshman, and he spent a significant portion of his high school career on the sidelines, injured. The concern here isn't the injuries themselves, but the amount of time and repetitions they've cost him already. Combine that with the fact that Graham is only in his second year in Columbus, and he's going to have to blow coaches away with his passing if he wants to shoot up the depth chart. There hasn't been any indication that that's going on yet. The potential for rapid growth is there, though.