Why Urban Meyer Needs to Develop Another QB This Spring
In his three starts last season, Guiton threw for 643 yards and 12 TDs, leading the Buckeyes to big victories in all three games.
There was also a handful of games where Braxton Miller left the field for a short period of time, and Guiton was more than capable of stepping right in and keeping a drive alive until Miller was ready to come back.
After losing Guiton to graduation, Urban Meyer comes into spring practice with a big question mark as to who will take on Guiton's role as Miller's backup. This is a hole that has to be filled in the next couple of weeks if the Buckeyes plan on being a national title contender again in 2014.
As great as Braxton is, and as much as he is loved and respected across the whole state of Ohio, he has a bit of a reckless style of play. He takes more than his fair share of big hits, which is why he occasionally has been forced to leave the field for a few plays (or for a few games at the beginning of last season).
Having somebody ready to step in at a moment's notice and keep Meyer's high-powered offense moving right along is key to Ohio State's success, given the inevitability of Miller getting beat up over the course of the game.
Factoring in the absence of a proven commodity at running back like Carlos Hyde to take the pressure off of whoever the quarterback might be, having a viable option behind Miller is even more essential.
The slight favorite to land the backup job is probably sophomore Cardale Jones. He was the No. 3 quarterback in 2013 behind Miller and Guiton, so it would appear that coming into the spring that he would have the advantage.
That being said, redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett will have a legitimate opportunity to win the coaches over.
Barrett spent last season on the sidelines, rehabbing from a torn ACL that he suffered his senior year of high school, as well as getting familiar with the offensive scheme. He was Meyer's first quarterback recruit at Ohio State, so that personal connection could give him a window to make his move up the depth chart.
At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Jones has all the physical attributes to be a special quarterback. But at a smaller, more mobile 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Barrett is more of a threat with his legs, which may be a better fit for the system that Meyer runs.
With Miller out of spring practice while recovering from shoulder surgery, both Jones and Barrett are likely to get plenty of reps with the first-team offense. Whoever is able to do the most with their opportunity will likely earn the spot at backup quarterback for the 2014 season.