Fickell, Buckeyes Ready To Head South

Ohio State is set to head to Florida to take on Miami on Saturday night down two starters but hoping for a lift from three players returning from suspension. Find out what head coach Luke Fickell had to say about the game in his last meeting with local reporters in Columbus.

While staying true to the "taking it one game at a time" mantra beloved by almost all members of his profession, Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell admitted his team's showdown with Miami (Fla.) on Saturday night has some added significance for a couple of reasons.

"We say all of them are big, and they are because that's ultimately the end-all, be-all of what you've got to do," he said Thursday. "We've still got to make sure we focus on getting better. This will be a great test for us to see if we are getting to better, to see if we can rise to the occasion against a different opponent, but we try not to focus on this being a national game because of Miami and their great history and Ohio State's great history, we're still making sure we understand it's one game at a time like we always say."

He acknowledged there is some significance playing in the state of Florida, one Ohio State has been hitting hard in recruiting since early in the days of his former head coach John Cooper's tenure in Columbus.

"I think it's a great opportunity for us because it is an area we've recruited heavily in the last 20 or 30 years," Fickell said. "Florida has been probably our second-best recruiting area."

Nine current Buckeyes came from the Sunshine State, and Fickell said they sold the chance to play in front of the home fans some day while recruiting them.

"What an opportunity if you do leave home to be able to come back," he said.

Fickell said he has not considered the possibility the crowd could be nearly half clad in scarlet and gray but would not be surprised if that were the case.

"I know that's the beauty of being here. We're going to travel well wherever we go," he said. "If they're going to give us 40,000 tickets, I'm sure we'll sell 40,00 tickets, but we're going to try to focus on the things we can control."

From a personnel standpoint, Fickell's final meeting this week with reporters in Columbus did not yield much news.

He described starting wide receiver Corey "Philly" Brown (ankle) as probably out for the game against the Hurricanes and confirmed starting defensive end Nathan Williams will miss the game because of a surgical procedure performed on a knee earlier this week. The head coach was still not sure when to expect Williams to return but conceded such recovery is generally two or three weeks.

"Philly I don't think will make the bell. I'm pretty sure of that," Fickell said.

Fickell also confirmed freshman quarterback Braxton Miller is able to go physically and turned in a good week of practice.

Miller was expected to share some quarterback duties with senior starter Joe Bauserman last week but never got into the game because of a combination of factors, including game situation.

"Braxton feels good," Fickell said. "Tuesday and Wednesday last week he was a little bit banged up, but he's been good this week. He's had a good week." While Bauserman is expected to take the game's first snap, who lines up behind him at tailback sounds like it is up in the air.

Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman identified Jordan Hall, a junior returning from a two-game NCAA suspension, as the team's No. 1 tailback when he met with reporters Wednesday night, but Fickell said a starter had not been determined. Carlos Hyde stepped into that role in Hall's absence, and both are expected to play large roles against the Hurricanes regardless of who starts the game.

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