Ohio State notebook: Braxton Miller isn’t being rushed back into practice

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Ohio State coaches have no intention of rushing Braxton Miller back into full-time duty on the practice field.

That was evident yesterday when the fourth-year starter watched while others ran the first-team offense.

Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, competing to back up Miller, took turns with the No. 1 offense during a short, full-team, offense vs. defense session. Miller had thrown at times during the practice, but the coaches looked to Jones, Barrett and freshman Stephen Collier to close it out.

“It’s part of the plan,” said co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, the line coach. “There was no he-got-the-hook in the middle of the day. It was all planned out.”

He indicated Miller is on schedule as the team works toward the opener on Aug. 30 against Navy at Baltimore.

“He’s come along well from what I’ve seen,” Warinner said. “We’re kind of bringing him along slowly. I think we have a really good plan to get him where he needs to be Aug. 30, and we don’t need to rush it.

“Just bring him along like a pitcher in spring training, you know — an inning, then two innings, then three innings. Then by the time opening day comes, can he pitch seven innings for you, or eight innings, or whatever you need. But his mindset is awesome. His understanding of the game is great, and his leadership has improved.”

Spence’s spot open

The defensive coaches know they won’t have defensive end Noah Spence for the first two games. He will serve the rest of his three-game suspension, which started with the Orange Bowl, for testing positive for the recreational drug ecstasy after the Big Ten championship game, something he said was slipped into a drink at a party a week or so before that game.

Defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said there is strong competition for the starting spot. Steve Miller and Rashad Frazier, a transfer two years ago from Purdue, practiced with the starters.

“Steve Miller, being a senior, has done everything we’ve ever asked him to do. Rashad Frazier is going to be a senior, as well,” Fickell said. “It’s a travesty that Noah is going to miss, but the reality is it gives some other guys some light. It’s going to make us and force us to create some depth.”

Jamal Marcus started in Spence’s place in the Orange Bowl, a loss to Clemson. He played well, but he opted to transfer to Akron in the offseason, a decision that the coaching staff agreed to.

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

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