When Ohio State quarterbacks coach Tom Herman grooms his players during practice, he sees someone he would have loved having during previous stops in his career at Rice, Iowa State and Texas State.
Braxton Miller? Well, yeah, of course. But Herman also would have been thrilled if he had Kenny Guiton taking snaps for those teams.
“I’ve been a lot of places where we would have been doing jumping jacks and cartwheels down the hallway if he was our quarterback,” Herman said.
The Buckeyes hope they never need to go to their back-up QB in crucial situations, but they know the position would be in good hands if the Texas native had to provide emergency relief this season.
Herman estimates Guiton could start for at least half of the FBS teams in the country. Although the knock on him out of high school was that he lacked arm strength, Guiton has always been able to compensate for that with guile and smarts, and he’s showing more of a gun this preseason.
“He has all the intangibles you could ask for in a quarterback. He knows the offense inside and out. He’s a coach on the field,” Herman said.
“He didn’t have the quick release and velocity on his ball, but that’s improved. It’s certainly not where Braxton’s is or some of the other elite guys in the country. But he makes up for some of the deficiency with his leadership ability and his anticipation. He’s a rock in our quarterback room.”
The best part about Guiton may be that he’s accepted his role while always working to keep his game sharp. “I prepare every week as if I’m going to play,” he said.
The 6-foot-3, 208-pound senior from Houston was called into action a few times last year. On the road against Michigan State, he subbed briefly for a dinged-up Miller and finished off a touchdown drive. He did the same thing at home against Nebraska.
His biggest contribution, though, came in an overtime win against Purdue when a woozy Miller was carted off the field in the second half and taken by ambulance to OSU Medical Center for observation.
Down 22-14 with 47 seconds to go, Guiton led the Buckeyes on a 61-yard touchdown drive, picked up the do-or-die two-point conversion on a nifty cross-field pass and then completed the comeback with an overtime TD for a 29-22 win.
Before taking over, he gave Miller some reassurance.
“When I went down, he said, ‘I got you, man,’ ” Miller said.
Guiton is still thanked for that performance when Buckeye fans see him in public.
“It’s crazy because I want to thank Ohio for giving me this opportunity,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to be out there and, every once in a while, someone notices me and says, ‘Great job.’ “
Still the man: Cornerback Bradley Roby will serve a one-game suspension for his part in an altercation with a bouncer at a Bloomington, Ind., bar, and the All-American has been practicing in the preseason with the second team.
But while he hasn’t been made available to the media yet, Roby’s position coach said the player isn’t sulking over his fate.
“He screwed up. He’s wrong. He understands that,” cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said. “He’s paying a tremendous price, but I don’t find him to be any different. I find him to be embarrassed, and I don’t blame him. But he’s going about his business like a pro.”
Coombs said sophomore Armani Reeves will replace Roby as the starter in the opener alongside side junior Doran Grant. Three freshmen — Cam Burrows (a Trotwood native), Eli Apple and Gareon Conley — are fighting to become the third corner for the Aug. 31 game against Buffalo.
Grant has made a big jump since last season when he lost a battle for a starting spot to senior Travis Howard, who currently is on the Houston Texans’ roster as a free agent.
“There’s a difference between walking in and hoping to get a job and knowing you’ve earned it. He’s earned it,” Coombs said. “He’s got confidence he can play that position, and I have confidence in him.”
Multiple looks: The Buckeyes will be relying on an abundance of speed at the skill positions, but look for them also to go with some two-tight end sets on pass plays.
Junior Jeff Heuerman and sophomore Nick Vannett aren’t just glorified tackles. They have suction cups for hands and can stretch the field with their speed.
“I challenge any team in the country to come up with better tight ends than we have at one and two (on the depth chart),” Herman said.