By Rusty Miller
Braxton Miller says he’s ready to play in a game. Now.
He even challenged a sports writer to go out for a pass, to prove that his surgically repaired right shoulder is sturdy enough to wing a throw on demand.
“I feel good. I could throw right now. You want to run a route?” he said, laughing. “I feel good, man.”
With just over two weeks remaining until the opener against Navy, Ohio State is being extremely cautious with the tender right arm of its star quarterback.
Miller, a two-time Big Ten player of the year, had surgery last spring on his throwing shoulder. The Springfield native and Wayne High School graduate missed all 15 spring workouts while rehabbing and, after a full load of work in the first few days of fall camp, sat out Saturday’s scrimmage with some soreness.
Coach Urban Meyer is not concerned — not now, anyway.
“It’s still early,” he said. “If this was (later in camp) and he didn’t go, then that’s going to hinder our progress.”
Ohio State’s coaches, including Miller’s protege, offensive coordinator and QBs coach Tom Herman, are being very careful. They don’t want to jeopardize their prized pupil, particularly when he’s backed by largely inexperienced subs.
Sophomores Cardale Jones and Luke Morgan and freshmen J.T. Barrett and Stephen Collier are Miller’s top understudies. None has faced the heat in a game hanging in the balance.
Because Miller is such a precious commodity, and also because the Buckeyes believe they have an abundance of other players to throw and hand the ball to, it’s likely that he will run the ball less than he has in his first three seasons as a starter.
At least that’s the plan in mid-August. In a game, with the outcome teetering on the brink in the closing minutes, well, then maybe that plan will be revised.
“There’s a definite conscious effort to limit the called runs that we have had for him in the past,” Herman said. “But you’re also talking about one of the most dynamic athletes in the country, too. So we’ll be cautious with him, is probably the best way to put it, while understanding that element of his game is what makes him so successful and makes him such a challenge to defend.”
In other words, Ohio State doesn’t want to run Miller any more than it has to. But it also wants to make sure it wins; there’s no need saving him for a secondary bowl game.
“I’ll get a chance to throw it around to a lot different guys this year. I’m very blessed with those additions this year. This is going to be fun once we step out on that field,” Miller said. “You don’t want to run when you’re a quarterback; you want to get the ball out of your hands to the athletes.”
So, for now, Meyer and his staff will continue to monitor and measure, rest and test as the days to the first game winnow away.
“I’m just resting up. It’s being comfortable with where I’m at and making sure I’m not overdoing what I need to do with my injury,” Miller said. “You have to take it slow. You don’t want to rush things.”
There’ll be plenty of time for that when the games begin.
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