Urban Meyer opened his weekly press conference with information other than what everyone in attendance wanted to know most, but he did not wait for the question to come before updating the health of his star quarterback.
"Braxton Miller, I know that will probably be the first question," Meyer said Monday after running down the list of what went well and what did not in a 29-22 overtime win against Purdue last Saturday. "I went with him to the hospital – or afterwards went over to see him – along with our strength coach (Mickey Marotti) and then (offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach) Tom Herman stopped by afterwards. All the test results came back, I guess the term is negative, which is positive. He's very sore, sore neck, and we expect him to practice tomorrow."
Such a sunny prognosis seemed unlikely when Miller went down violently at the hand of Purdue cornerback Josh Johnson late in the third quarter, but a battery of tests to Miller's upper body found him free of symptoms of a head or neck in jury. He was released later that evening, and Ohio State listed him as the starting quarterback in its weekly pregame release for a contest this Saturday at Penn State.
Miller hasn't spoken to reporters since the scare, but he is scheduled to do so Wednesday night. He has met with the local media prior to every game this season except for one.
"He got like a whiplash," Meyer said. "I had a long talk with him about it. 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. (He's had) a bruise or a contusion or a sprained ankle, but never been like that, and it kind of rattled him a little bit, like it would rattle most athletes."
Although the defeat of the Boilermakers was the fourth consecutive game Miller had to leave for at least a brief period of time because of a hard or awkward hit, both Meyer and Herman said they do not expect to change the way the staff calls plays.
"We have to win games," Herman said, although both he and the head coach have acknowledged a desire to limit the hits their quarterback takes if possible.
He averages 17.6 carries per game, but not all of those are a result of plays calling specifically for him to run. Scrambles, sacks and times he has kept the ball on various option plays when he could have given it up all add up to inflate his run total, but there is no getting around the fact he is the team's most proven weapon so far this season.
"I think you let him be him and coach him, if you have the opportunity to step out of bounds after a big play, step out of bounds," Meyer said. "To be a classic dropback passer in his career now, I'm not sure how efficient we would be.
"The thing is I think more guys need to step up and take some heat off of him, which we did at times this year, not near where we need to be."
Without Miller, the Buckeyes rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final minute of the game and won in overtime. The hero of the contest was backup quarterback Kenny Guiton, who led the final drive in regulation and completed passes for a touchdown and two-point conversion in the waning seconds, but neither he nor any other offensive players graded out as champions when the staff reviewed film.
The defense, on the other hand, had a season-high seven players earn such distinction, led by defensive player of the week Ryan Shazier.
The sophomore linebacker had a game-high 12 tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and broke up a pass.
"His best game that I've witnessed him play, including a film I watched him on prior last year," Meyer said.
Joining Shazier in the champions club were cornerbacks Bradley Roby and Travis Howard, defensive linemen Nathan Williams, John Simon and Johnathan Hankins and safety Christian Bryant.
Freshman linebacker David Perkins was named special teams player of the week and joined in the champions club by Hankins and walk-on defensive back Taylor Rice.
Perkins had three tackles, including two inside the 20-yard line on kickoffs, while Hankins blocked a field goal.
The Buckeyes take the field again at 5:30 afternoon on Saturday at Penn State. ESPN will televise the game with former Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman providing color commentary as veteran play-by-play man Sean McDonough describes the action.