Miller Still Drives Offense

OSU has relied on quarterback Braxton Miller to make big plays all season, many of which are the reason the Buckeyes have yet to lose a game through eight weeks of the season. Miller, however, has left each of the team's last four games with injury and protecting the QB is an ongoing concern. However, OSU doesn't anticipate changing its game plan so long as Miller is healthy.

Braxton Miller broke the line of scrimmage and burst down the sideline for what would eventually be a 37-yard gain, providing what Urban Meyer thought would be yet another play from the playmaking quarterback that would serve as the necessary spark for an otherwise dormant Ohio State rushing attack.

But when Miller didn't get up from the turf after being thrown down by Purdue cornerback Josh Johnson, Meyer immediately became concerned about not only the game – the Buckeyes were down 20-14 late in the third quarter at the time – but also the team's undefeated season.

"Sure," Meyer responded when asked if witnessing Miller on the ground caused OSU's perfect season to flash in front of his eyes. "Yeah."

Backup quarterback Kenny Guiton relieved Miller to eventually lead the Buckeyes to an improbable, yet thrilling comeback overtime victory over the Boilermakers. Meyer, however, remained concerned about the health of his star player, and the remainder of the Buckeyes' still perfect season.

Though Miller had left each of OSU's previous three games temporarily because he was banged up, this time was different. Meyer watched Miller get carried off the field, dragging his feet while unable to walk to the sideline under his own power.

Meyer knew fairly soon after the injury that Miller would be fine and was in good hands, but that's a far cry from being ready for football activities as the Buckeyes prepare for a crucial conference matchup at Penn State on Saturday.

Monday the head coach announced that the team expects Miller to practice on Tuesday, thus making it seem as if Ohio State will start the quarterback that spent the remainder of his Saturday evening in the hospital.

Assuming Miller is full strength, OSU will continue to rely on the quarterback to do what he's done all year – make big plays in all facets in the game to keep the dynamic Buckeyes offense running on all cylinders.

Still, Meyer said keeping the quarterback healthy is an ongoing concern. Finding ways to limit the amount of contact Miller is subjected to will be an ongoing process.

"I think we are trying to balance it," Meyer said. "We don't go crazy with him as far as like running the ball. I think we're trying to balance it a little bit, but at some point you've got to try to move the ball a little bit, too. There's some limitations. So that's very we're very cognizant of that."

There have been multiple patches during the season in which Ohio State's offense had struggled to gain yardage, only to be snapped out of the lull because of an explosive play made by Miller.

Those types of plays were what made the sophomore a regular subject of the national conversation regarding the Heisman Trophy. Meyer thought Miller's run against Purdue was just the latest example of such a spark, but the quarterback was done for the game.

Finding a way to limit Miller's susceptibility to big hits is a tough balance, particularly because the Buckeyes often rely on their quarterback to make big plays on the fly. Telling Miller not to pull the ball down and run with it when there's an opportunity to make the play likely wouldn't be in Ohio State's best interest.

"Very concerned," Meyer said when asked about Miller's health. "I don't know that I use the word amazed very often, but he's a tough guy. He's very strong. He takes care of himself. I don't want to say amazed, but he's a tough guy. Did you say how concerned? Very concerned. He's our best player."

Perhaps about Miller's job to be smart about exposing himself to contact. Sure, the quarterback always wants to gain every last inch, but the sophomore also may have been better served running out of bounds after his big run against Purdue instead of trying to take on Johnson.

Meyer is confident Miller will continue to get a feel about picking his battles. But if the quarterback is healthy, offensive coordinator Tom Herman doesn't anticipate changing the way he approaches the game.

"We have to go win the game," Herman responded when asked if he's going to tailor his offense differently because Miller has been prone to injury the past month. "So, no."

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