Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is looking forward to Saturday’s season opener against Miami (Ohio).
That’s because – aside from the fact it will be an actual game and over 105,000 people will be jammed inside Ohio Stadium – Miller will trade his black no-contact practice jersey for a scarlet home game jersey. That means Miller will be live and able to run the ball without looking for his coaches’ whistle to stop the play and protect him. (Check out our video interview with Miller above.)
“I’ve had it on too long,” Miller said of the black jersey that makes him largely untouchable to his defensive teammates. “I get thudded up sometimes, but they usually blow the whistle pretty fast.”
OSU coach Urban Meyer said he could sense that Miller is eager to be able to execute the whole offense.
“I made the comment about him being a caged tiger and there is no question,” Meyer said. “We ran a couple of plays yesterday where they were designed runs. I blew the whistle before he got to the line of scrimmage and he kept looking at me like, ‘Are you nuts?’ So, yeah, he’s pretty excited.”
Miller was OSU’s leading rusher last year with 715 yards and seven touchdowns. With more weapons at his disposal in the spread offense, Miller may not have to have such a big role running the ball this year.
“We don’t call a lot of (quarterback) run plays,” said Miller, who believes he could average 18 to 20 passes per game after averaging just 13 attempts in his 10 starts last year. “If a play breaks down, I might make something happen with my feet.”
Miller, back for his sophomore year after starting 10 games last season, talked about how he has grown.
“I’m just a little bit older and more mature and more of a leader-type,” he said. “It’s a different type of offense. It’s just exciting. You have to change your way of looking at things. Going against a top defense every day helps a lot.”
Meyer has brought a zone read option offense to Ohio State, putting a lot of decisionmaking on Miller on each snap.
“Yeah, it’s a lot of what I did in high school, reading the backside end,” he said. “You have to get the ball out of your hands fast and make the read fast. You want to get the ball in your playmakers’ hands.”
Meyer cited Philly Brown and Devin Smith as emerging receivers. Converted tight end Jake Stoneburner also figures to get a lot of action in the passing game.
“There are a lot of guys stepping up every day in practice,” Miller said of the receiving corps. “It brings a lot of different aspects. He can do a lot of things. He can run a fly or run any of the option routes as well, anything like that.”
Meyer Comments On Miami, Klein, More
Meyer participated in Tuesday’s Big Ten media teleconference. Here were some excerpts from that session.
* On Miami (Ohio) – “We have a lot of respect for Miami (Ohio). We’ve got an issue with this quarterback (Zac Dysert) and receiver (Nick Harwell). They like to throw it and those guys are excellent players. The film does not lie. That’s caught the attention of our players and coaches. We will be ready to go.”
* On whether DE Nathan Williams may play – “He did practice on a limited basis. We will try and get him in the game. He passed the test to get into the game. How much, that’s still to be determined.”
* On how Luke Fickell and Everett Withers work together on defense – “Luke Fickell is going to call the defense. Everett Withers is very take-charge on the back end with the secondary. There are two guys without egos calling defenses. It’s been very positive so far.”
* On what he wants to see Saturday – “I think our defensive line will play well. I am a little bit worried about our pass coverage. I’ve seen what these guys do offensively and they are pretty good. Offensively, I think we will do pretty well. I want to see how he will do on the perimeter. We have improved. But the improvement that had to take place was almost insurmountable. The good thing is we have improved.”
* On a key concern – “Our secondary has some experience. They played pretty good a year ago. I can’t say they played great. The scheme that Miami uses will put us in some situations. They do a pretty good job of throwing the ball. They are talented, but they do unusual formations to put you in tough situations. Pass coverage is directly tied to pass rush. Hopefully we can force some errant throws with our rush a little bit.”
* On the decision to reinstate LB Storm Klein after domestic violence charges were dropped – “He missed all of training camp. He won’t play until he makes up everything. He’s making up a bunch of stuff. I just simply … the facts, he was released because of a charge with a domestic issue. But everything related to that charge was dropped. I told him if that happened I would reassess the situation.
“I wasn’t comfortable with just the legal part of it. That’s why I wanted to talk to both families involved and make sure there wasn’t something behind Door No. 2 that I wasn’t aware of and there was not, so that was the decision.”
* On Rod Smith listed as the third tailback behind Carlos Hyde and freshman Brionte Dunn – “Rod had a very good training camp. Rod’s only thing right now is consistency. Brionte has just been more consistent, but it is a very close race.”
* On freshman RB Warren Ball, out indefinitely after a foot injury – “He was really making a nice push as well.”
* On the team selecting John Simon, Etienne Sabino, Garrett Goebel, Jordan Hall and Zach Boren as captains – “The players voted on the captains and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Those five guys do well on off the field. They do things the right way. They are great leaders and they play really hard. I’ve gotten close to those guys.”
“Those are the guys off the top of my head,” he said. “They are going to make some mistakes, but we’re not worried about that. We’re going to put them in position and just watch them go hard.”
Click here for audio of Meyer’s comments from Tuesday’s Big Ten call.
Stay tuned: Dave Biddle will have comments from Coach Meyer after today’s practice later tonight.
Hyde Eager For Action
With Jordan Hall out for at least the opener, Hyde has stepped in as the starting tailback. He said he is looking forward to making plays in the new offense.
“I feel like every play they call is an explosive play,” Hyde said. “If we execute that play, it could be something big.”
Meyer promised that Tuesday practices would be known as Bloody Tuesday for their physical nature.
“Today was pretty rough,” Hyde said after the Tuesday workout. “Monday was more of a Bloody Tuesday. Monday was real. It was like a camp day and camp was tough. It was good, too. It makes you look forward to game day and you can’t wait to get out there.
“What makes it tough is the more live periods we have and actually going against the defense. It’s not just a walkthrough. We’re out there doing live things.”
Brown Stepping Forward
Last year, Brown shared the team receiving lead with Smith and Stoneburner – all with 14 catches. But early reports from practice indicate that Brown could become a go-to guy for Miller within the offense.
“I try to be a leader for everybody,” Brown said. “I just try and go out there and talk and get everybody lined up. I like that role. I’ve always been a vocal person. This year, I know it’s demanded of me with the lack of senior leadership we have in the wideout room. I know what I have to do.
“I’ve worked hard for this opportunity and Saturday hopefully it pays off.”
Brown said he did not think too much about Meyer’s comment in the spring that the receiver group was a “clown show.”
“I didn’t have a reaction to it,” he said. “I knew we had a lot of improvement to do. That’s why we all came out this season and worked so hard as a wideout group. I guess we changed his mind. For me, personally, I didn’t take it as a bad thing.
“We study more. We were in the weight room. We were in the indoor (facility) working every day on our routes. We were working on catching the ball and understanding the offense so we can play as fast as we can.”
Brown said the offense has worked hard to put last year’s failures in the rear view mirror.
“It was tough,” he said. “Everybody knows the offense was the weak part of the team last year. We have a new offense now and a chance to start over. We’ll wait till Saturday and we’ll see.
“It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be fast. Don’t leave your seat when the offense is on the field.”
Brown said Stoneburner has been a welcome addition to the wide receiver group.
“Having Jake is real good,” Brown said. “He is a big-bodied receiver who can go across the middle. He can manhandle people. It’s good to have him at receiver. We have a lot of good, young tight ends and that will add another weapon to the field.”
Click here for a video interview with Brown.
* Three more freshmen lost their black stripes off their helmets on Tuesday, signifying their move to full-fledged status. They were walk-on LB Craig Fada (big brother Zach Domicone), walk-on FB Craig Cataline (big brother Adam Homan) and CB Armani Reeves (big brother Doran Grant). That brings the total to 12 freshmen who have lost their stripes – nine on scholarship and three walk-ons.
* Stay tuned for Dave Biddle’s defensive notebook on Thursday as well as our usual Game Data page.
* Here are more videos, stories and columns to check out: