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Keeping Miller healthy remains hot topic

October 5, 2012
dsp By SETH STASKEY - Buckeye Blitz (sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

Regardless what level of football you're talking about, the quarterback is the most important position on the field.

That's easily proven by the paths teams take when their quarterbacks are injured.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer doesn't pull any punches when he talks about what Buckeye player is the team's best.

"Without Braxton Miller, I don't think we're 5-0. As a matter of fact, I know we're not 5-0," Meyer said. "Braxton's our quarterback and our best player."

So having said that, it's easy to see why Meyer and all of Buckeye nation was so nervous when Miller laid on the Spartan Stadium grass twice in pain.

The first he was tackled out of bounds on the first OSU drive. He returned on the next series and was basically unharmed.

The second, however, brought Buckeye fans all over the nation to a standstill hush after Miller's leg planted awkwardly and the knee buckled. Immediately, the thought of a torn ACL or major knee damage popped into the minds.

Miller passed all of the tests and eventually returned to the game and orchestrated the Buckeyes' game-clinching drive for the 17-16 victory.

The thing about Miller is that so much of his ability is predicated off his ability to run. And with Meyer wanting the ball in his best players' hands all the time, Miller's number gets called quite a bit.

The number of carries he's had this season has been a constant topic at Meyer press conferences. For the season, Miller has carried the ball 90 times. He's thrown 121 passes.

"They use (Miller) in so many different ways," said Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini. "Whether it's scrambling, designed runs, zone reads, options, he's got the ball in his hands a lot. He's a good football player, who's going to make his share of plays."

The thing about Meyer - and even Miller - is that the main objective is to win games and if that means Miller carrying the load, that's okay with them.

But, there are still seven more games in a tough, physical conference.

Should anything cause Miller to miss an extended period of time, Meyer has little issue with sticking back-up quarterback Kenny Guiton into the game.

As the head coach has said many times since the spring, he's really grown to trust Guiton more and more with each workout.

"Kenny's not overwhelmed," Meyer said. "I don't think Kenny is as good as Braxton. If he was, he'd be playing, but I think he's a very functional quarterback. And if Braxton goes down, how do you win? Somebody else has to pick up that slack."

Guiton actually finished the first Buckeyes' scoring drive when Miller was getting medical attention on the sideline.

"On the road against (Michigan State) in that environment, it's a little different when you're up by 30 points in the third quarter on someone," Meyer pointed out. "Lots of guys can go in for those situations. He actually checked one of the plays, so that tells you how he did. The other two were up-tempo, no huddle. That's a game manager."

And looking even further down the depth chart at quarterback, former Cleveland Glenville signal caller Cardale Jones has been impressive this week running the Nebraska offense on the scout team.

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