Miller hurt but Buckeyes still roll
QB sidelined by sprained left knee during first drive
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman calls Kenny Guiton the best backup quarterback in college football and the senior signal caller stated his case once again.
Guiton replaced Braxton Miller early in the game and proceeded to shred the San Diego State defense in the Buckeyes’ 42-7 victory before a crowd of 104,984 in Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
Miller left the game on the Buckeyes’ (2-0) first drive against the Aztecs with a sprained left knee. Although he returned to the sideline from the locker room at the start of the second quarter wearing a brace, he did not play.
“We had a long discussion on the sideline,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. “I think he could (have played). But the things that make him dangerous are his wheels and I don’t think it would have been so, so we all decided it was best not to.
“I think there’s a chance he could play next week (at California).”
Miller had rushed five yards to the San Diego State 7-yard line on fourth-and-one with 12:02 left in the first quarter. He was sandwiched between tacklers King Holder and Jake Fely as his helmet flew off. Miller was on his back for several minutes before being helped off the field and then carted away.
But his absence didn’t matter much as the Buckeyes accumulated 445 yards of total offense.
“You have to be a good enough football team that you can compete and obviously we’re not a very good football team right now,” San Diego State head coach Rocky Long said.
Guiton, an unheralded recruit from Houston, first made his mark last season when he replaced the injured Miller against Purdue and threw a touchdown pass and two-point conversion with two seconds left to tie Purdue, then guided the Buckeyes to a 29-22 overtime win en route to a 12-0 record.
Against San Diego State the senior threw for two touchdowns and ran for another. Guiton finished 19-for-28 for 152 yards and added 85 yards on nine carries to help the Buckeyes to a 35-0 halftime lead. He also had a pass intercepted by Damontae Kazee in the second quarter.
“I actually wasn’t that nervous today,” Guiton said. “I prepared all week like a starter. Once I got in I took my first hit, got my first throw. After that it was just, ‘Let’s go.'”
His favorite targets were Devin Smith (seven catches, 46 yards) and Corey Brown, whose 24-yard scoring reception, his second TD of the game, made the score 42-0 with 4:34 left in the third quarter. Brown had six catches for 73 yards.
“Everybody on the team knows what we’re getting when (Guiton) comes into the game, a lot of confidence and a lot of swagger,” Brown said.
San Diego State (0-2) got on the board when backup Quinn Kaehler tossed a two-yard pass to Chad Young with 1:41 remaining in the third quarter after a chance to score on the last play of the first half failed when cornerback Doran Grant broke up a three-yard pass by Kaehler to Ezell Ruffin.
Kaehler entered on the Aztecs’ fourth possession after starter Adam Dingwell was 0-for-5 with an interception. Kaehler was 22-for-36 for 217 yards and an interception.
“It took a couple of drives to get the nerves out,” Kaehler said. “Obviously I was excited to get into the game but I really felt comfortable after two or three series.”
The Aztecs, after running 99 plays — their most since 1991 — in an opening 40-19 loss to Eastern Illinois, had 35 plays for 99 yards by halftime while the Buckeyes gained 309 yards off 37 plays.
San Diego State for the game gained 283 yards on 67 plays but only 48 came on the ground.
“They’re a good team,” San Diego State wide receiver Colin Lockett said, “but they don’t do anything spectacular.”
Ohio State linebacker Curtis Grant said the Buckeyes were not pleased allowing a touchdown.
“Man, we’re a little disappointed,” he said. “But we know what we have to correct to get better so we can keep the shutout.”
NOTES: Since the beginning of the 2010-11 academic year, Ohio State and San Diego State have ranked first and second in the nation, respectively, in combined football and men’s basketball winning percentages. … San Diego State lost all three previous trips to Columbus and were outscored 70-31. … Ohio State plays at California on Sept. 14 while the Aztecs are off until hosting Oregon State on Sept. 21.