Obviously it isn’t a weird cosmic connection where history repeats itself and Joe Bauserman is Todd Boeckman and Braxton Miller is Terrelle Pryor. On the surface it seems rather convenient that way, though. In 2008 the Buckeyes started Boeckman and played Pryor in the first two games of the season against Youngstown State and Ohio. Then, Ohio State got pasted 35-3 by USC out in California and the Buckeyes turned the team over to Terrelle Pryor. This season the Buckeyes under Luke Fickell started Joe Bauserman and brought Braxton Miller off the bench. Well, technically he forgot to bring Miller off the bench for game two. Then Ohio State played both QBs in Miami where they were pasted 24-6. Now, much like Tressel concluded after the third week in 2008, Fickell has concluded after the third week in 2011. Braxton Miller will start this week against Colorado like Terrelle Pryor did in 2008 against Troy.
Granted the history had an extra high chance of repeating itself just because of the way Ohio State schedules every year with a couple of warm-ups before presumably testing themselves against a tough out-of-conference opponent. And certainly Braxton Miller choosing Ohio State had a lot to do with the timing of Terrelle Pryor’s eligibility (the original eligibility, not post-controversy.) So it isn’t the most bizarre thing ever. Still, it is a bit eerie when you read Doug Lesmerises’ article from back in 2008.
The coach went from playing Pryor for several series of his own in the season’s first week, to playing him barely at all in the second week, to sometimes subbing in a quarterback on nearly every play in L.A. But so far he hasn’t tried Pryor as a red zone or third-down situational quarterback, attempting to maximize his skills when it makes the most sense instead of just sharing the gig in whatever rotation. Even going into the game of the year against USC, the other Buckeyes weren’t certain what the QB plan was.
Fickell had a rough week. His indecision with the QBs and then some pretty understandable criticism over timeout (non)usage has dominated the press since the Miami game. It is very easy to see in hindsight what the right answers are. There was no telling that Joe Bauserman would be such a complete bust in the passing game against Miami last week. As a coach who probably presumes he is coaching for his job this season, it is understandable that the pressure might actually make him a worse decision-maker than he normally would be.
It’s like someone playing blackjack and knows the “right” way to play. Then the eights start pouring out of the deck and you start splitting them and putting more and more money on the table so that all of a sudden you have three or four times as much riding on this hand than you thought you would. That’s kind of like Luke Fickell right now. So far, he hasn’t really played his hands all that well, at least by the results as the Buckeyes struggled against Toledo and lost to Miami.
Again, maybe Fickell couldn’t have done any better. Braxton Miller moved the ball against Miami, but he also threw an interception and didn’t lead the two field goal scoring drives. Perception is reality though. Right now perception is that between the QB shuffling and the lack of sideline poise with the timeouts that Fickell didn’t give the Buckeyes their best chance to win. That could end up costing Fickell his one chance at his dream job.
We’ll see how that plays out. For now, Buckeyes fans should just hope that history repeats itself again against Colorado. When the Buckeyes played Troy and turned the team over to Terrelle Pryor he threw four touchdown passes in a 28-10 victory.