Several Ohio State players were asked about the situation Wednesday after practice. None of them took the bait.
“No comment,” linebacker Darron Lee said.
“I do not want to answer that question,” fellow linebacker Joshua Perry added.
“You’ll see on Saturday,” echoed offensive lineman Pat Elflein.
The questions were all pertaining to Braxton Miller and his role for Saturday’s game against Minnesota. The Buckeyes didn’t feel the need to answer them.
Head coach Urban Meyer announced Monday that in light of starting quarterback J.T. Barrett’s suspension for an OVI, Miller would be the Buckeyes’ No. 2 quarterback against the Gophers behind only Cardale Jones.
But as far as what all that entails? That’s where the mystery lies at the moment.
“A lot going on,” Meyer said. “Just a busy week for [Miller].”
Miller, of course, was a three-year starter behind center for Ohio State prior to his position switch this summer. He has spent the majority of this season playing wide receiver and has thrived, at times, in that role having caught 19 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns.
But he’s also spent some time at quarterback this season for the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes, albeit strictly in a Wildcat-type role. Miller has run the ball a total of 30 times for 207 yards and a score this year. The fifth-year senior has technically thrown one pass on the season — a ‘pop pass’ as the Buckeyes call it, which is essentially a handoff as a receiver comes in motion in the backfield.
That’s where the questions still remain with Miller: Is he physically capable of throwing the ball down the field like a normal quarterback? And, will Ohio State actually have him throw a pass this weekend against Minnesota or even this year?
Miller missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum injury he suffered in the 2014 Orange Bowl. He’s deflected questions this year about his ability to throw the ball, saying he’s strictly on focused on learning his new position — the one where his NFL future likely lies.
Meyer has repeatedly stated all season Miller has worked exclusively with the wide receivers in practice. Wednesday, however, he said that has changed a little bit due to Barrett’s suspension.
“He works with [quarterbacks coach] Tim Beck for a while then he goes over to [receiver] a bit,” Meyer said.
Ohio State fans have waited all year for Miller to throw a pass ever since Meyer said it was a possibility back near the beginning of the season and the Buckeyes have done a good job all week of creating suspense around their potential uses of Miller on Saturday. It remains unclear, however, how exactly Ohio State truly intends to use the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year.
Will he actually throw the ball against the Gophers or is this just another smokescreen by Meyer and Co.? Saturday will give us that answer.
“Behind the scenes, there is a lot of things that he’s been doing that nobody knows about,” offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said. “So we’re confident that he will do whatever he needs to do to help us win a game.”