To recover from the pounding he took in the Central Florida win last week, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller had to soak in a tub of water so cold it might have made a polar bear shudder.
But even though starting running back Carlos Hyde won’t play against California on Saturday because of a sprained knee, the Buckeyes hope to lighten Miller’s workload enough that he may be able to skip that postgame bath.
Miller had 17 runs in the season opener and then 27 against UCF, a number OSU coach Urban Meyer said is far too many if they want to keep the dynamic sophomore healthy. Meyer intends to limit his QB to 15 runs against Cal — and ideally even fewer.
“If we play really well and guys are on their game, 10-12 is where you really want to be,” Meyer said. “But I don’t know if we’re there yet.”
The Buckeyes should have an additional weapon to ease the burden on Miller with the return of senior running back Jordan Hall, who missed preseason camp and the first two games recovering from a foot injury. He practiced full tilt for the first time Wednesday.
“I think he’ll play. I just don’t know how much,” Meyer said.
Asked how Hall’s conditioning and grasp of the offense were, Meyer said: “Good and good. He’s a veteran, and he had a great spring in our offense. He’s a football player. Those aren’t two concerns.”
Although he may be on football’s version of a pitch count, Hall is expected to get at least several touches, although Meyer said he wouldn’t name a starting running back until game time.
Freshman Bri’onte Dunn will likely trot out with the first unit, and sophomore Rod Smith will see action, too.
Meyer also said senior Storm Klein, the starting middle linebacker in 2011, should make his first appearance of the season after initially being kicked off the team because of a domestic violence charge and then being reinstated and given a two-game suspension when he pled guilty to disorderly conduct.
“He’s back. He’ll play in the game. I don’t know how much — that’s up to Luke,” Meyer said, referring to linebackers coach Luke Fickell. “He’s been cleared, he’s worked hard and he’s handling this with as much humility as I imagined he would.”
Although 2-0, Meyer hasn’t been happy with the Buckeyes on either side of the ball. Even the atmosphere in Ohio Stadium — where a docile, less-than-capacity crowd of 104,745 watched the UCF win — has been somewhat of a letdown.
“I expected much more. I expect the stadium to be an inferno,” Meyer said. “I expect players diving over each other to hit the quarterbacks. I expect our offense to score a multitude of points and be celebrating in the end zone. But I realize it’s not a sprint. It’s a journey to get it where we want it.”
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