It’s uncertain if it’ll be Miller time on Saturday evening, but it’d be a good call for Penn State’s defense to ready itself for Ohio State’s star quarterback this week.
Braxton Miller left Ohio State’s contest against Purdue last Saturday with an apparent head injury and was taken to a local hospital during the team’s overtime victory. Miller was released later that day, and Monday, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said he expects the explosive quarterback to participate in this week’s practices.
“All the test results came back. I guess the term is negative, which is positive,” Meyer said at his weekly press conference. “He's very sore, sore neck, and we expect him to practice [Tuesday].”
The sophomore quarterback left the Purdue game in the third quarter after his head slammed off the turf on an awkward tackle. Though he was shaken up a few days earlier, Miller was listed as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback on a depth chart that was released Monday.
“He got like a whiplash. I had a long talk with him about it,” Meyer said. “He's just rattled. And once he settled down, he seemed to be fine. And he made a comment to me. He's never really been hurt, never really been as far as a bruise or a contusion or a sprained ankle, but never been like that.”
Last season, Miller accounted for 188 yards (105 rushing, 83 passing) in Ohio State’s 20-14 loss to Penn State. Now in his second year in Columbus, Miller has burst onto the national scene.
With 1,384 passing yards, another 959 on the ground and a total of 21 touchdowns in eight games this season, Miller has become not just the front-runner for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, but he’s also developed into a Heisman Trophy candidate.
The play on which Miller got hurt was a signature run by the signal caller. With Ohio State trailing by six, the dual-threat quarterback accelerated into the Boilermakers’ secondary for 37 yards on an option-read before being pulled down and hitting his head on the ground.
Miller laid on the field for a while after the tackle and then was escorted to the locker room on a cart.
“You can see a couple of other times he knows when to get down and step out of bounds,” Meyer said. “That would have been probably, you know, I think, where we were at as an offense, has something to do. We were not playing very well. A lot of players on the offense were not playing very well, so he was just trying to make a play.”
Kenny Guiton was Miller’s replacement, and he led the Buckeyes to a last-minute comeback and eventual win in overtime. Guiton is listed as the team’s backup option this week, and if Miller can’t go in the battle for first place in the Big Ten Leaders Division against the Nittany Lions, Guiton would be under center.
Meyer said Miller is a player that usually bounces back up after a hit and called him a competitive guy. And if Miller is able to play against Penn State, Meyer said he still wants him to use his legs but do so intelligently.
“I think you let him be him and coach him,” Meyer said. “If you have the opportunity to step out of bounds after a big play, step out of bounds. To be a classic drop back passer in his career now, I'm not sure how efficient we would be.”