If the Ohio State sideline had been a baseball dugout in the third quarter at Northwestern three games ago, Braxton Miller would have heard leather popping in the bullpen as Kenny Guiton warmed up.
Coach Urban Meyer had ordered “the old right-hander,” as he calls the senior backup quarterback, to get ready. Meyer thought about making a change after Miller’s third turnover, a fumble at the Northwestern 2-yard line with Ohio State trailing by 10.
But Meyer stuck with Miller, and since that moment the quarterback has been revitalized.
Since that fumble, Miller is 46 of 60 passing for 563 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions and a passing efficiency rating of 182.9. And he has rushed 35 times for 191 yards and two touchdowns with one fumble, though Ohio State recovered it late in the win over Iowa. For his effort in a 63-14 win over Penn State on Saturday night, he was named Big Ten offensive player of the week for the second time in the past four games.
“I don’t think it’s coincidence,” Meyer said yesterday.
He has explained to Miller that no one’s job is a given.
“If our center doesn’t play well, we’re going to make a change if we have a good center behind him,” Meyer said. “And you see that in some other positions that as guys improve, we’re going to make a change.”
In the case of Miller, “He’s not used to being second fiddle, his high-school and college career so far. I love him to death; he’s like a son to me. We get along great. But he knows I have a job to do, and that’s to make sure the best players are on the field.
“The guy behind him happens to be a very good player, very good leader.”
Wilson also lauded
Ohio State running back Dontre Wilson was named the conference’s freshman of the week. He had one carry for 12 yards against Penn State, but caught two passes for 35 yards, including a 26-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. He also had a 49-yard kickoff return.
Bogard has torn ACL
Special-teams standout Devan Bogard was lost for the rest of the year for the second straight season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
“That’s just crushing … a big blow,” Meyer said.
Receiver Evan Spencer, who left Saturday’s game with a left knee injury, and middle linebacker Curtis Grant, who suffered a neck strain after a head-on collision, will be back this week.
“I just led with my head; I should have had my eyes up,” said Grant, who was attended to on the field before walking off.
Shazier, Barnett in running for awards
The Buckeyes’ leading tackler, junior Ryan Shazier, is one of 12 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, which goes to the nation’s top linebacker. Senior safety C.J. Barnett, who had a key interception against Penn State, was named one of 15 semifinalists for the Thorpe Award, which goes to the top defensive back.