Ohio State Will Pass On Risking Miller’s Health in Spring Game
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer isn’t going to take any chances with his star quarterback.
Not with only two practices to go in his first spring as the head coach of the Buckeyes.
Meyer would like to get a look at his offense on Saturday in Ohio State’s 2012 LiFE Sports Spring Game, if for no other reason than to see how much of it his new players have grasped this spring.
Photo by Jim Davidson
It’s not going to come at the expense of Braxton Miller though, who will be off-limits to hits from the defense on Saturday at Ohio Stadium, along with backup Kenny Guiton and the other OSU quarterbacks.
“No, no, no, no,” Meyer said, shaking his head when asked if Miller would be “live” for Saturday’s spring game.
“His first time live is going to be when the official goes like this (motioning his arm in a circle for the ready sign).”
Despite wearing a “no contact” black jersey, Miller has taken a few shots this spring—including a blindside hit from defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and a powerbomb from linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Meyer knows he is going to need a healthy quarterback if things are going to work according to plan this fall, although he has liked what he’s seen from his top backup during camp.
“Kenny’s had a very good spring,” Meyer said of Guiton, who has been running the No. 2 offense all spring.
“Very impressive. Cardale (Jones) hasn’t had very many reps.”
Jones, a freshman out of Cleveland Glenville by way of Fork Union Military Academy, missed Wednesday’s practice because of illness. He should be back for the spring game on Saturday, but don’t look for him or any of the other quarterbacks to be running a lot of option keep plays against John Simon and Ohio State defense.
“We won’t run them as much as we normally do,” Meyer said of his quarterbacks.
“It’s going to be a very ‘vanilla,’ throw-heavy scrimmage, because I want to see some guys make plays.”
Meyer knows Miller will have to be his top playmaker if the Buckeyes are going to run his offense effectively in 2012, but the sophomore’s electrifying footwork has never been a mystery.
In fact, Meyer’s practically been drooling over Miller’s running abilities since he first saw the Huber Heights Wayne product in person last September.
“I know he can do that,” Meyer said confidently.
“I want to see him do some other things.”
When Meyer said the spring game was going to be “vanilla,” he didn’t mean two hours of “Dave Right” and “Dave Left.”
“I mean vanilla throw game,” he later clarified.
“Unless the elements don’t allow it.”
The latest forecast is calling for 55 degree temperatures Saturday with a 60 percent chance of precipitation. That is perfect football weather—assuming that potential rain doesn’t turn into thunder and lightning—but Meyer is really hoping it won’t scare away Ohio State fans from watching his first spring game.
“I hope we fill it up,” he said Wednesday, “wouldn’t that be fun?”
Ohio State has already sold over 46,000 tickets for Saturday’s spring game, according to a University spokesperson. The NCAA spring game attendance record of 95,722 was set by the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium at the Spring Game in April of 2009.
Those who make it out Saturday won’t get to see Urban Meyer’s new offense in its entirety, but they will get a glimpse of how much different the Buckeyes will look in 2012 under their new head coach, and new offensive coordinator Tom Herman.
“The intent is to watch guys perform in a gameday atmosphere,” Meyer said.
“I've been fortunate to coach in some of these big spring game atmospheres and there's nothing like it. It's priceless. You can't simulate that indoors or out on the practice field, so I'm real anxious to see them do it.”
A pass-heavy spring game should sit just fine with Ohio State fans, who were forced to endure one of the worst passing offenses in the country a year ago.
As long as they’re completing those passes.
“The ball will be thrown a lot, I don’t know if it will be caught a lot,” Meyer said with a smile.
“That’s the evaluation part.”
6 a.m. Draft
Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, coach of the gray team, and offensive coordinator Tom Herman, coach of the scarlet team, will lead the coaches through a 6 a.m. draft Thursday morning to build the teams for the 2012 LiFE Sports Spring Game. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
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