- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Here's the ironic part about Ohio State's first five games this season: The Buckeyes figure to play a ton of Tressel-Ball without Jim Tressel.
While Tressel serves his suspension, the Buckeyes likely will employ the strategy that has brought them tremendous success during the coach's tenure. You know the core principles: stout defense, field position, conservative offensive play calls, polished special teams and, most important, fewer mistakes than the opponent.
Ohio State often plays Tressel-Ball with a full complement of starters, so it's hardly a stretch to suggest the Buckeyes will turn to the scheme as they try to survive the first five games without top quarterback Terrelle Pryor and four others.
If Tressel-Ball is in the forecast for Ohio State, Joe Bauserman most likely will be, too.
The Buckeyes need a replacement for Pryor, and Bauserman appears to be the safest choice. He has significantly more game experience than any of the other quarterbacks vying to replace Pryor. He has been in the system for four seasons.
But he didn't really separate himself this spring, leaving the door open for Kenny Guiton, Taylor Graham and the most talked-about candidate, Braxton Miller. A true freshman who enrolled early, Miller had Buckeyes fans buzzing after a strong performance in the spring game, albeit against defenders several notches down the depth chart.
The Columbus Dispatch's Ken Gordon encapsulates the QB question in a recent story:
The debate seems to come down to Bauserman, Mr. Safe and Steady, versus Miller, Mr. Clueless but Flashy. Quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano did not shy away from that comparison.
"The best comparison I can make is when Trent Dilfer was the caretaker of the Baltimore Ravens, and he led them to a Super Bowl victory [in 2001]," Siciliano said. "He wasn't expected to go out and put up phenomenal numbers. He was supposed to take care of the ball, and they relied on their defense. I don't know throughout the course of time if we haven't ever had a different opinion. That's still what we want our quarterbacks to do."
If Bauserman can be Ohio State's Dilfer, the Buckeyes should be in good shape until Pryor's return.
But what if Ohio State needs its quarterback to win games, rather than not lose them? There are legit questions about the Buckeyes' supporting cast. Because of the suspensions, they have no proven receivers and a hole at left tackle. While folks are excited about the running backs group, Ohio State certainly would be better off if it had Dan Herron as an option. And while the Buckeyes' track record on defense suggests they'll be fine, they still must replace a lot of production.
This could be a reason to take a chance with Miller, but it also might strengthen Bauserman's case to start. In 2008, when Pryor replaced veteran Todd Boeckman at quarterback, he was surrounded by an excellent supporting cast (running back Chris "Beanie" Wells, receivers Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline, the nation's No. 6 scoring defense).
With question marks elsewhere, I'd expect Ohio State to go with the safe choice at quarterback when the season kicks off Sept. 3.