And then there was Braxton Miller.
Wearing his usual black No. 5 no-contact jersey, Miller spent much of the day watching rather than taking part. He did throw some passes during quarterback drills but spent the live scrimmaging part of the day – about the last half hour – observing, watching and encouraging instead of throwing passes.
Before Wednesday, head coach Urban Meyer said the Buckeyes would somewhat limit Miller when need be during fall camp, and this afternoon it became clear just how limiting that could be.
But according to co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, it’s all part of the plan to make sure the two-time defending Big Ten Silver Football winner is ready to go vs. Navy.
“We haven’t done much with him yet, but we’re kind of bringing him along slowly,” Warinner said. “I think we have a really good plan to get him where he needs to be Aug. 30 and we don’t need to rush it. The guy’s played for three years, so just bring him along like a pitcher in spring training – an inning, then two innings, then three innings and by the time Opening Day comes, can he pitch seven innings for you or eight innings or whatever you need? I think we’re doing that the right way.
“His mind-set is awesome. His understanding of the game is great and his leadership has improved so we’re just letting him come along.”
Warinner was clear to also point out that Miller’s limited reps – which left his top two backups, sophomore Cardale Jones and redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett, to take most of the snaps – were expected on an overcast day in Columbus.
“It’s part of the plan,” Warinner said. “There was no, like, he got the hook in the middle of the day. It was all planned out. We’re doing that with some other guys who started a lot who are coming off injuries, just watching their volume until they build into it.”
Miller, who finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2012 and then accounted for a school-record 36 touchdowns last year, goes into his senior season expected to make another run at some individual hardware, but he hasn’t seen much of the field since the calendar flipped.
The Huber Heights, Ohio, native suffered an injured shoulder late in the Buckeyes’ Orange Bowl loss to Clemson in January and then underwent surgery a month later. He didn’t take part in spring practice and was instead tasked with watching defenses during live reps and recording his thoughts in a special device attached to his helmet, something he credited for vast improvement on the mental side of the game.
Meyer said at the Big Ten Media Days in Chicago that Miller went through a simulated quarterback camp this summer, and the head coach has said his star QB is in the best shape of his life. He also noted, though, that Miller is not quite game ready.
“(Team doctor) Doug Calland and his staff have a plan for him, and we’re just controlling what he does this early,” director of strength and conditioning Mickey Marotti said. “It’s practice three.”
Marotti also noted that Miller – who has had to miss the end of starts each of his three seasons at OSU and missed nearly three full games last year – has upped his weight to 216 pounds this offseason.
“He plays so hard and it’s such a collision sport and there’s so much velocity and acceleration and impact, that’s our goal is to make him increase that strength level to anticipate some of those forces or give out some of those forces,” Marotti said. “When he turns and runs up the field and he hits that guy, maybe he’s the one applying the force more than him getting knocked back.”
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