Ohio State has its starting quarterback for the season opener. Probably.
At his first game week press luncheon as head coach of the Buckeyes, Luke Fickell confirmed both Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller will play against Akron on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
"Joe will probably take the first snap," Fickell said. "Talking to the offensive staff, we know we're going to need them both. The whole idea is we want to put them in front of 106,000 and see how the guys respond."
He cited leadership among the reasons Bauserman, a senior, is likely to get the nod over Miller, a true freshman.
"He's done a really good job through camp. I've been impressed with the things we've asked him to do. That doesn't mean we haven't been impressed with Braxton as well. We've been impressed enough with him to list him in the 'or' category."
He did not indicate at what point Miller might expect to see his first action.
Fickell pointed out there are plenty of positions where competition will be ongoing even after the season begins.
One of those spots is running back, where Jordan Hall is listed as the starter with Carlos Hyde and Rodrick Smith his co-backups. The absence of Jaamal Berry raised some eyebrows when the depth chart was released Monday, but Fickell indicated that was a result of the sophomore missing practice time the past two weeks because of a hamstring issue.
"We've got some talent, we've got some depth," he said. "Those guys are going to get some opportunities. How you take advantage of those opportunities will determine how many more you have. We'll see how that all works out. We don't have it scripted exactly."
Fickell labeled Berry "questionable" for the Zips and declared sophomore offensive lineman Corey Linsley out for the opener.
The coach did not give a reason for Linsley's absence, but sources have told BuckeyeSports.com he faces disciplinary action for violating an undisclosed team rule.
"I don't know that he will be back for the second as well," Fickell said.
On the other side of the ball, the Buckeyes do expect to have the services of Etienne Sabino, a junior linebacker who suffered a broken hand that required surgery Aug. 21. Fickell said he has returned to practice and will play Saturday with a cast.
While Ohio State has a couple of quarterbacks and plenty of running backs to choose from, it does not have permanent captains to start the season.
Fickell said that is in part an effort to expand on the theme of team unity and equality he has been stressing since taking over as head coach at the beginning of the summer.
“For right now I thought it was best for our team,” he said. “Sometimes you elect captains and all of a sudden just by nature those are the ones who stand up in front of the team. We always talk about it’s the whole group of seniors. I thought for right now for this year it really does a good job of bringing the whole group of senior leadership to the forefront and doesn’t put anybody specifically to stand up in front of guys because they were elected because it was a popularity contest or something.”
The team will name captains eventually, perhaps at the end of the year or at the team banquet.
The captains for this week are senior offensive linemen Michael Brewster and J.B. Shugarts along with junior defensive lineman John Simon.