Ohio State coach Urban Meyer isn’t surprised Kenny Guiton never saw meaningful action before the new staff took over in 2012.
The player Meyer met nearly two years ago didn’t deserve any.
“He wasn’t very good — in a lot of areas. He wasn’t very good academically,” Meyer said. “He’s an exceptional, exceptional guy, so that means he was an underachiever. That’s fighting words — ‘you’re an underachiever.’ “
But Guiton responded to challenges from Meyer and his assistants and has gone from being a nonentity to a record-setting quarterback.
“He’s a very efficient player right now. He’s an incredible manager, a coach on the field,” Meyer said.
“It’s not by accident that this thing happened now. It’s not because he had a buckeye in his pocket or wore his lucky t-shirt. He needed to work very hard to be in this position and be ready for this opportunity. And boy, did he.”
Starting again in place of the injured Braxton Miller, Guiton set the all-time Buckeye mark for touchdown passes with six in a 76-0 bludgeoning of Florida A&M before 103,595 fans Saturday — the largest victory margin for OSU since 1935.
All six flings came in the first half while the Buckeyes (4-0) were racking up a 55-0 lead. Two went to receiver Evan Spencer (eight and 15 yards), while tight end Jeff Heuerman (11 yards), receiver Devin Smith (five), running back Carlos Hyde (one) and receiver Chris Fields (15) also had scoring grabs.
The previous record of five was shared by Bobby Hoying, who did it twice (1994 and ’95), and John Borton (’52).
“It’s a blessing. I thank God. I thank the O-linemen,” Guiton said. “The coaches wanted to come out throwing the ball, and I thank them for the trust they put in me to be able to do that.”
The fifth-year senior — who set an OSU record for the longest play from scrimmage the previous week with a 90-yard bomb — ranks among the national leaders with 13 TD passes this season after throwing two in his previous three years.
Meyer emphasized that Miller, who’s been out with a sprained knee since the first series of the second game, remains the starter, though the coach added: “The backup quarterback has earned some time. I’ve worked some scenarios through my mind, but I’m still not sure how to do that.”
Guiton certainly has the backing of the players. In the last three games, he’s 64-of-94 passing (68 percent) for 643 yards and 12 TDs with two interceptions. He’s also rushed for 180 yards and another score on 24 carries.
“He prepares so hard and he’s so smart, it’s hard not to trust him,” Spencer said. “If there’s anybody on the field who’s down or makes a mistake, he’s there for you. Braxton does the same thing, but having Kenny there to get behind some guys, especially young guys, is big.”
The Rattlers (1-3) are an FCS team that isn’t very good even at its level, and they were handed the worst loss in their 104-year history.
The Buckeyes, who didn’t attempt a pass in the second half and never allowed their guests to cross midfield, had whopping advantages in total yardage (603-80) and first downs (34-2). Their 76 points were their most since 1950 and the sixth-highest in school history.
“We’re going to face a Big Ten defense next week (Wisconsin), but the expectation of the offense is real high,” Meyer said. “We have some weapons. I like where we’re at. The best way to think about it is checkers. There’s some good pieces on that board. I like the checkers we have right now.”
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin, 8 p.m., ABC, 1410