Life without Braxton Miller began in a crowded team meeting room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Wednesday afternoon.
Days after the Ohio State star quarterback re-injured his surgically-repaired throwing shoulder and less than 24 hours since being officially ruled out for the season, head coach Urban Meyer met with the media to answer the obvious: where do the No. 5-ranked Buckeyes go from here?
"I really haven't given it much thought," Meyer, who confirmed Miller torn his right labrum during practice Monday, said. "Just worried about the moment."
Right now, that moment is a cocktail of different emotions, different feelings and it comes from different vantage points. On one hand, a season wrapped in championship hopes takes a major hit without arguably its most important player. On the other, it's apparently served as a rallying point for a team that feels slighted for already being written off in the national picture.
"I still like our team after today's practice," Meyer said after calling the morning's session perhaps the best since coming to Columbus. "I really, really like our team."
Still, it's hard to imagine losing Miller does Ohio State more good than harm.
The senior and Heisman hopeful was the crux of an offense that was among the best in the country last season. For three seasons, Miller's been the centerpiece of the Buckeyes and the face of the Urban Meyer era as we know it.
"It shatters your heart," Meyer said. "But you have to move on and get the next guy ready."
Charged with the sizable task of replacing the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year is redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett.
"He's kind of Guiton-ish," Meyer said, referring to former backup and fan-favorite Kenny Guiton. "That's a term we have around here."
It's a lot of praise for a player who has yet to take a collegiate snap of football, but Meyer said Barrett is a "meticulous" player who schematically gels with the offense. "The best quarterbacks are great distributors," he said.
To be fair, Ohio State won't just casually replace the void of leadership, experience and talent left in Miller's absence with Barrett. But the "quiet kid," as Meyer called him last week, from Wichita Falls, Texas, might give the Buckeyes their best shot at still contending for a spot in the inaugural college football playoff and beyond.
- After sustaining considerably damage against Clemson in the Orange Bowl, Miller had surgery in February and missed spring ball to recover. As such, Meyer, like most people, expected Miller to be healthy by summer. "I believed he'd be ready to go in the summer, in my heart, i believed he'd be ready to go."
- The notion of Miller re-injuring his shoulder was even further from his mind. "Did I have any thought that this would happen? No."
- Meyer on team mood after Miller went down: "Devastating."
- Meyer said he'll consider using both backup quarterbacks in Barrett and Cardale Jones. "Sure."
- Meyer said it's important for Ohio State to operate its offense around Barrett's skill sets. Barrett's a distributor so the Buckeyes will tailor their approach to that compared to the more dynamic, explosive Miller. "Braxton's got a very unique skill set, has one of the quickest releases I've ever seen."
- Meyer said Barrett has roughly 300 competitive snaps compared to Guiton (who replaced Miller for the better part of three games last season). Meyer said Guiton had significantly less experience prior to assuming a starting job.