Does Ohio State have a full-blown quarterback controversy on its hands? A quarterback crisis? At the very least, it's a quarterback quandary.
There's no other way to view it after what happened last weekend in Miami. Senior starter Joe Bauserman completed just 2-of-14 passes for 13 yards, while freshman Braxton Miller turned the ball over twice. The crisis for the Buckeyes is finding someone who can play the position effectively and help move an offense that has stalled, to put it kindly, the past two weeks.
Head coach Luke Fickell says he doesn't know for sure who his starting quarterback will be this weekend against Colorado. Fickell said Tuesday he planned on opening up the competition for the job over the next couple days in practice. That includes not only Bauserman and Miller, but some more reps for Kenny Guiton and Taylor Graham, who lost out in the quarterback derby during preseason camp.
"We'll put 'em back in the mix a little bit and see how they react and respond," Fickell said. "I hope to have a better idea by Thursday."
Fickell won't pin all the blame on Bauserman, who now has struggled his past two games. He said part of the problem against Miami was the excellent defense the Hurricanes played and the fact that the Buckeyes dug themselves an early deficit.
"I still don't have a lack of belief in what Joe can do at times," he said. "We've got to put Joe in the right situation, got to help him out from the defensive side of the ball as well as of the offensive side of the ball, too."
Fickell was asked about a TV shot of Bauserman smiling on the sidelines near the end of Saturday's 24-6. While Fickell said he didn't see it, he did receive an e-mail about. He hasn't talked to his quarterback about that yet.
"I know Joe hurts every bit as bad as I do," Fickell said. "Just like me up here, I smile and I show that I'm happy and everything's going great when my stomach down inside is sometimes in a knot.
"No, that's not something you want to see. Whether he was disguising or masking how his gut felt, I have confidence that Joe hurts every bit as much as I hurt. We try and tell those guys, nothing goes unnoticed whether it's on the sidelines of a game, whether it's in a classroom, wherever you are having something to eat. Just make sure you understand that.
"But I haven't noticed anything that would tell me that Joe isn't 100 percent with us."
Miller may be the people's choice for the moment, and he is likely the future at quarterback. But is he ready now? Fickell's job is guaranteed only for this year, after all, and Buckeyes fans can't be thrilled about the idea of sacrificing potential wins this year just to groom Miller. He's also had trouble holding onto the ball.
"I think that's pretty much something always with a young guy," Fickell said. "How do you hit quarterbacks in practice? You just don't do it. We took the jersey off of him for a little while in our jersey scrimmage. He did a good job of holding onto the ball. Is it something you hope comes with realizing what the situation is? Yeah. Can you really practice it? I don't think you can go and practice and try to hit him. You can strip the football, make sure they're aware of it."
Quarterback controversy, crisis, quandary -- whatever you want to call it, there don't seem to be any easy answers right now for Ohio State.