Everybody has known Braxton Miller has a quick first step, and we’re starting to learn the Ohio State quarterback also has a knack for making quick recoveries.
Miller was knocked out of the game with a sprained knee ligament on the opening drive against San Diego State on Saturday. He was wincing on the sidelines as the medical staff worked the tender area, and he was carted to the locker room for further evaluation.
But he returned to the sidelines shortly after that and even lobbied for more playing time.
“Oh, God, he wanted back in the game, and he feels very strong. He wants to play this weekend,” coach Urban Meyer said at his press luncheon Monday.
Although Meyer was quick to point out his star player is still questionable for the Cal game Saturday, Miller’s ability to bounce back in a hurry from seemingly major injuries has been a consistent theme during his career.
He was hauled to the hospital after a hard tackle in the Purdue game last year, but he practiced the following week and then had a masterful performance at Penn State.
Miller has been undergoing constant treatment, and Meyer said an accurate gauge on MCL sprains can’t be made until all the stiffness subsides after the first 48 hours.
“Just letting you know — insider conversation here — but we’ll know more tomorrow morning,” the coach said. “After the 48-hour period of this injury, we’ll know more.”
Cal is starting a true freshman at quarterback and is 1-1 after beating an FCS opponent, Portland State, by seven points on Saturday. But Meyer said the Buckeyes won’t sit Miller against the Bears just to err on the safe side.
“If he’s healthy to play and play like Braxton plays — which, as you know, he’s not your pocket quarterback, he does a lot of things for us — he’ll certainly go. We are not saving him or holding back. This will be everything we’ve got to win this game,” Meyer said.
The Buckeyes wouldn’t panic if they had to play without Miller because they feel so good about backup Kenny Guiton. He displayed his dependability again while finishing off the opening drive and playing the rest of the way in a 42-7 win.
Despite an interception on an underthrown bomb, he finished 19 of 28 passing for 152 yards and two touchdowns and rushed nine times for a game-high 83 yards and another score.
The coaches named him the offensive player of the game, and Meyer said the players demonstrated their confidence in Guiton even before the season by making him a co-captain though they knew he was destined for an understudy role.
“I wonder how many times that’s happened, that the backup quarterback is elected captain,” Meyer said. “There’s no real surprise internally. Maybe externally there is. But he was one of the leading vote-getters.
“There’s a lot of respect for Kenny Guiton about everything — the way he handles his business and where he’s come from. … He distributed the ball very well. He moved the ball around.
“We have to do better in the open field as far as breaking tackles. I would grade us a minus. But we protected the quarterback much better in this game against a team that blitzed from the time they got off the bus. … I thought overall on offense we did a fairly good job.”
Washington update: Defensive end Adolphus Washington suffered a groin strain against the Aztecs and is questionable.
Teammate Michael Bennett had the same injury last season, and it lingered all season. And he has some advice for the sophomore standout.
“I would say just be smart. Don’t force anything. If he doesn’t get enough treatment, what happened to me could happen to him,” said Bennett, who missed four games.
“I felt like it was going to be a big year for me, so I didn’t really want to sit out at all. I feel like I rushed it a little bit.”
Bennett is off to a strong start this year. The junior from Centerville was credited with 1.5 tackles for loss against the Aztecs and was named co-defensive player of the game along with linebacker Ryan Shazier.
Business trip: The Buckeyes are flying out for the Cal game Friday morning and won’t have much time for sightseeing, which is OK with receiver Corey “Philly” Brown.
“I don’t think there’s anything there anyways. California’s not a special state,” he said.
Ohio State (2-0) at California (1-1), 7 p.m. Saturday, FOX, 1410