Miller, Guiton provide fireworks

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Football
Practice Insider: Miller, Guiton Provide Fireworks on ‘Winner-Loser’ Day
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kenny Guiton used his arm, Braxton Miller used his shoulder. Both quarterbacks gave people something to talk about after Tuesday’s practice, which was the ninth of 15 for Ohio State this spring.

Kenny Guiton
Photo by Jim Davidson
Kenny Guiton

Guiton stepped in and lead the offense down the field on a game-clinching touchdown drive during an intense ‘winner-loser’ scrimmage inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. His corner fade to tight end Nick Vannett in the back corner of the end zone gave the offense a big victory over their defensive counterparts.

It was a much needed after the defense took the all-important scrimmage on Saturday.

“It’s an awful scrimmage if the offense can’t gain five yards, and we’ve had scrimmages like that,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said after practice Tuesday.

“It’s good to see competition. I’m not sure we have any answers yet other than Kenny did a nice job in there leading the second group on a touchdown drive. So it was a good day.”

Ohio State strength coach Mickey Marotti was calling out the score of the scrimmage, which was all offense early on, despite the fact they were without the services of Jordan Hall once again.

Devin Smith
Photo by Jim Davidson
Devin Smith

Braxton Miller got things started with a great blitz read. He found Devin Smith in one-on-one coverage against sophomore Armani Reeves down the field for a 40-yard gain down inside the 10-yard line.

Redshirt freshman tailback Warren Ball busted of a 35-yard run on a toss to the right side on the next possession to give the offense a 3-0 lead over the defense early in the scrimmage.

Miller found Corey Brown for 15 yards on the next possession, and sophomore Michael Thomas went up for an impressive grab over the top of freshman cornerback Eli Apple to give Ohio State’s offense a decided 6-0 edge.

“On defense we’re doing a lot of blitzing, a lot of pressures. There’s a lot of stuff going on,” Meyer said.

“We weren’t a big blitz team last year, so we’re doing a lot of evaluation of what we want to be on defense because we lost some pretty good players.”

Adolphus Washington
Photo by Jim Davidson
Adolphos Washington

The offense was up 7-1 when the defense started to make a push. It started up front with a sack by No. 92 Adolphus Washington. On the next play, cornerback Armani Reeves picked off a deep ball from Miller down the seem on a ball intended for Devin Smith.

Reeves weaved his way in and out of traffic on a 60-70 yard interception return, but he paid a price for it at the end as he was leveled by right tackle Chase Farris.

Farris is a guy who came to OSU as a defensive lineman, and it was a current defensive linemen who made the most memorable play of the day, maybe not for the best reason.

The defense had brought the score to 8-6 on a Ron Tanner interception off Guiton, who was being pressured by Camren Williams and Jamal Marcus. Marcus might have had his best day of practice on Tuesday.

On the next offensive play, Braxton Miller rolled to his left and pitched the ball to tailback Rod Smith. As he let the ball go, Miller was crunched by sophomore defensive end Noah Spence.

Noah Spence
Photo by Jim Davidson
Noah Spence

Miller laid on the turf without moving much before finally sitting up. He was slow to get up on his feet, but seemed to be moving around well after he did. In fact, he was moving around well enough that he had to be restrained by teammate Corey Brown from going after the assailant who took a perceived cheap shot at the quarterback wearing a protective black jersey. 

“That’s better than the opposite, just lie on the ground and curl up and go, ‘Why did you hit me’?” Meyer said.

“I like quarterbacks who want to get in a street fight and go after them. That’s not probably the time to do it, but he’s a competitor. I didn’t really see what happened, but Braxton is a competitor. He’s a tough kid.”

Miller missed a few series on offense, as Guiton slid up to work with the ones and redshirt freshman Cardale Jones took over with the twos. Meyer would have probably been worried about Jones quarterbacking the second unit on a ‘winner-loser’ day before Saturday’s scrimmage.

Cardale Jones
Photo by Jim Davidson
Cardale Jones

“I think Cardale really showed that he can play quarterback for Ohio State,” Meyer said.

“(Before that), you had no idea other than he looks good, he throws the ball nicely once in a while. He needs to show the energy that’s expected out of a quarterback.”

Meyer got to see plenty of that energy out of his starting quarterback, who finally jumped back in to the mix on the second-to-last series of the scrimmage. A little talk with defensive line coach Mike Vrabel did not seem to settle Miller down as much as maybe they would have liked.

After throwing a pass that was tipped by linebacker David Perkins on the first play, Miller was flushed out of the pocket by Adolphus Washington on second down. Instead of pulling up or running out of bounds, Miller lowered his shoulder right into the chest of Perkins.

Both sides started jawing back and forth again, but there were no physical altercations during Tuesday’s practice.

“It's football and we ran option to the left,” Meyer said of the original play that ended with Miller on his back.

 “He's fine.”

Rod Smith caught the pitch on that play and picked up 15 yards before fumbling the ball back to the defense. He did have a few nice runs on practice Tuesday, as the Buckeyes worked with a new “diamond” formation that resembled the pistol wishbone used by San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and a few others  this past season.

“Some teams are doing some really good things,” Meyer said, acknowledging his coaches had also studied with two other college teams this offseason.  

“We studied the 49ers. They’re doing some really good things.”

This formation featured Miller in the pistol or modified shotgun with one tailback (typically Warren Ball or Bri’onte Dunn) directly behind him. Carlos Hyde flanked Miller on his right and Rod Smith on his left. 

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