Recognizing that 1) Joe Bauserman's performance at quarterback has progressively declined since the opening game against Akron three weeks ago, and 2) that he could potentially be facing a lynch mob in Ohio Stadium on Saturday afternoon if he decided otherwise, Coach Luke Fickell announced that true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller will start against Colorado. It would be fair to say that Coach Fickell has not only decided to gamble Ohio State's 2011 season, but also his long-term coaching future at Ohio State.
One of my scouting mentors, the late Tony Razzano, taught me that a good scout never offers an opinion on something that they have not personally seen. Yes, you inevitably hear from other people their perspectives on different teams and players, but a good scout will block those opinions out until they have the opportunity to evaluate the opposition themselves.
Using that logic, I cannot adequately write up who and how Ohio State can or will defend against Colorado. I have not seen Colorado play this season, and I only know that the Buffaloes won their first game last weekend against Colorado State.
Having seen Ohio State play, and Braxton Miller, will allow me some ideas on how I would use Miller against Colorado. Keep in mind, for all Braxton Miller's talents, he is only going into his fourth college game, and his first as a starter.
Above all, look for the coaching staff to keep the game plan very simple, a la Terrelle Pryor's freshman season in 2008. While Pryor was a superior runner than Miller as a freshman, Miller would certainly rate with a stronger arm and better passing technique.
Look for a lot of quarterback rollouts and waggle plays, leaving Miller plenty of run/pass options. This will allow Miller to gain positive yardage, while also reducing his chances of mistakes. I am confident the coaching staff stressed the importance of throwing the ball out of bounds if nobody is open, as Joe Bauserman has done the previous three contests.
I would also expect Miller to play with minimal reads on his passing plays. If his first read is covered, and his second covered, look for Miller to take off scrambling. This is one of those areas that Terrelle Pryor became better at understanding during the latter portion of last season.
Undoubtedly, Colorado can and will be prepared for this simplistic attack. The best course of action is for Ohio State to come out throwing, which will not allow Colorado to stack the box defensively against Ohio State's rushing attack.
Jake Stoneburner was the target of an errant throw last game against Miami (FL). If Stoneburner can be isolated on a linebacker, he could become Miller's security blanket as a receiver.
More than even Braxton Miller, I look for Jordan Hall to be the focus of the team's offense. Hall demonstrated quickness and agility against the Hurricanes, and can be used as a runner, receiver, and punt returner for the Buckeyes. Like Stoneburner, Hall can create mismatches in the passing game.
Considering it is a home game, and the fans will be eager for something positive, I look for Ohio State to bounce back in a big way against Colorado. Although there will be bumps in the road with a true freshman quarterback, I am going to say Ohio State 28, Colorado 3.