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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Ohio State coach Luke Fickell mum on QBs

By Marla Published: September 20, 2011

Everyone in America has an opinion on what Ohio State coach Luke Fickell should do with his starting quarterback situation. Most believe he should turn the team over to true freshman Braxton Miller for the remainder of the season, starting with Saturday's home game against Colorado.

But if Fickell has a plan going forward, he wasn't sharing it at his press conference Tuesday. That led some to believe he will continue to let fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman and Miller share the job.

Against the Hurricanes in Sun Life Stadium, Ohio State completed just four of 18 passes for 35 yards with an interception. Bauserman went 2 of 14 for 13 yards, Miller 2 of 4 for 22 yards with an interception and a fumble on a running play. All of the completions went to running backs.

"We don't know what the plan is just yet," Fickell said. "We're going to have these guys compete. We've got an idea what's going to happen. Until we see them compete in practice and see how guys handle the situations and roles, we're not going to make a complete judgment just yet.

"Yes, we had a hard time throwing the football. Sometimes we've got to do some things to give ourselves a better opportunity to do that, whether it's loosening up the coverage or something."

Asked if Miller is positioned to be the starter, Fickell said, "I don't know, I don't have the crystal ball. We know what we think. We're going to continue to see them battle. We're going to focus on day to day getting better."

Asked if he had a plan at quarterback or whether there was a clear-cut choice, he repeated that he had to see how they practiced. He did not give a timetable for choosing one or whether the rotation could continue the rest of the season.

On whether he saw an overwhelming upside to picking Miller, Fickell came close to indicating he might be leaning that way.

"We could if he'd go out and make some plays and hold onto the football, yeah, we will," Fickell said. "But I still don't have a lack of belief in what Joe can do at times, too. We've got to put Joe in the right situation, we've got to help him out, from the defensive side of the ball as well as the offensive side."

Fickell said he's looking at the entire team and how it functions, not just the quarterbacks' numbers. But his top priority for the quarterbacks is not to turn the ball over and take advantage of opportunities.

As for Miller's fumbling issue, Fickell said, "I think that's always something with a young guy. How do you hit quarterbacks in practice? We took the jersey off for a little while in our jersey scrimmage and he did a good job hanging onto the ball. Is it something you hope comes with realizing what the situation is? Yeah.

"I think we had two fumbles all of last year and I don't want to tell you how many they've had already this year, but it's almost three times or twice as many in three games."

Near the end of the game, Bauserman was caught by a television camera smiling on the sideline, which Fickell said he didn't see.

"Somebody e-mailed me something about that," Fickell said. "I haven't talked with Joe. I know Joe hurts every bit as bad as I do. Just like me up here I smile and show I'm happy and everything is going great, but my stomach sometimes is in a knot.

"That's not something you want to see. Whether he was disguising or masking how his gut felt, I've got confidence Joe hurt every bit as much as I hurt. We try to tell those guys, 'Nothing goes unnoticed.'"

Fickell also came under fire for finishing the game with all three of his timeouts and not using any during Miami's final drive. The Hurricanes scored their last touchdown with 33 seconds remaining, capping a 14-play, 69-yard march in the last nine minutes.

"We were going to call timeout on their third-down play they converted, there was still a minute and a half left to go," he said. "They ended up calling a timeout for us. We were talking about it and said, 'We're going to need two scores. Whether they kick a field goal here or what happens, the only way we best fit is make sure we have as many opportunities to call timeouts as possible.'

"Probably if I went back and looked at it, the one they called right there with 8 or 10 seconds left, maybe should have saved ourselves 30 seconds there."

Fickell said he didn't consider using any earlier in the drive.

"No, we still knew we were going to need two scores and thought we were going to need to stop the clock offensively," he said.



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