Want to know if junior quarterback Braxton Miller will play Saturday night when the Ohio State football team faces its first road challenge of the season at California? Stay tuned.
OSU head coach Urban Meyer had his weekly Monday press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and said Miller’s left MCL sprain was “a day-to-day situation.” Miller played only a handful of snaps last weekend in a 42-7 drubbing of San Diego State before going down during a fourth-down run.
“If he’s healthy to play and play like Braxton plays ... he’ll certainly go,” Meyer said. “We’re not saving anything or holding back.”
Meyer was unable to give an exact answer as to whether Miller will be good to go against the Golden Bears, saying that the first 48 hours after a MCL sprain are tough and that Miller is dealing with stiffness. When Miller returned from a brief stint in the locker room during the first half last weekend, Meyer said there was discussion about putting him back in the game before ultimately letting fifth-year senior backup Kenny Guiton finish the game.
Guiton fared well in relief of Miller. The backup and team captain completed 19 of 28 passes for 152 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and led OSU with 83 yards rushing on nine carries with another score.
“There’s a lot of respect for Kenny Guiton, with the way he handles his business,” Meyer said. “Where he’s come from, it’s an incredible case study – what Kenny’s done for this program in our brief tenure here.”
Still, if Miller can play, he will be under center in Berkeley.
“(Miller) wanted back in the game; he feels very strongly that he wants to play this weekend,” Meyer said.
If Miller is unable to go, Meyer mentioned that “Plan C” has to be ready – sophomore third-string quarterback Cardale Jones. Jones will travel to Cal with the Buckeyes, as will freshman J.T. Barrett – Plan D.
“Plans C and D are real close to each other right now,” Meyer said. “We practiced them both yesterday. I just made preliminary travel plans, and they’re both going. We’re going to see. As of right now, Cardale’s the first one in.”
Miller’s injury is not the only notable one the Buckeyes are dealing with heading into the first road game of the year. Starting defensive lineman Adolphus Washington sat out all but a few plays against the Aztecs because of a groin injury. Like Miller, Meyer said Washington is day-to-day.
As usual, Meyer started his weekly presser by praising the players who stood out in the previous game – those graded as champions. The champions on offense were fifth-year senior lineman Jack Mewhort, junior tight end Jeff Heuerman, senior wide receiver Corey "Philly" Brown, junior wide receiver Evan Spencer and Guiton – the offensive player of the game.
On defense, the return of Bradley Roby from a one-game suspension did little to affect his on-field performance. Meyer said the junior cornerback graded out at 99 percent – in 12 opportunities to make a play, Meyer said Roby did so 11 times. He joined fifth-year safety C.J. Barnett and co-players of the week junior defensive lineman Michael Bennett and junior linebacker Ryan Shazier as champions.
“We’re getting close to the kind of defense that I have a dream of seeing,” said Meyer, who went on the praise the efforts of the defensive line and its coach Mike Vrabel.
Meyer named sophomore Armani Reeves as a special teams champion and gave some lofty praise to the kickoff unit.
“I think the momentum switch of the game was the opening kickoff,” Meyer said. “I believe we hit them on the 10 and tackled them on the 12. It was one of the best kickoff performances I’ve seen as far as guys running down the field. The rest of the game, we had some mistakes, but it wasn’t because of effort.”
Looking ahead, the Buckeyes will face a Cal team on Saturday that is averaging 97 players per game on offense. Opponents are averaging 69.
“We need all able bodies to be ready to go,” Meyer said.
Time will tell if Miller will be among those able bodies. Meyer is scheduled to meet the media again Wednesday evening.
For more on what Meyer, a pair of his assistant coaches and selected players had to say Monday morning, check out the Ask The Insiders message board.