Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Ohio State has a backup plan for Miller
By Austin Ward
Ohio State has already had months to work on a backup plan.
Odds are, they were always going to need it in some capacity. Depending on the severity of a new shoulder injury for star quarterback Braxton Miller, they might have to rely on it much earlier than expected.
The program hasn't publicly commented, and there haven't been any confirmations of results of medical examinations on his shoulder at this point. Ohio State has a media availability scheduled for Tuesday morning, and the coaching staff should be able to shed more light on an injury that could just be another minor setback or perhaps a devastating blow to the Buckeyes' title chances.
J.T. Barrett appears to be the leader to replace Braxton Miller, whether that's for a few plays or several games.
For all of Miller's immense talent and freakish ability, though, there has been one weakness that has consistently popped up throughout his career. And while the Heisman Trophy candidate has more often than not absorbed the extra punishment he takes as a rushing threat and proved his toughness by bouncing back, the Buckeyes have needed his backup either for a couple of drives or a couple of weeks in each of the past two seasons due to injuries.
Now, before his final season has even officially started, there are warning signs that Ohio State is again going to need the services of a second quarterback at some point, which as of this weekend would be redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett. But since Miller was on the shelf all spring recovering from his offseason surgery on that same shoulder and had been limited throughout camp by an every-other-day throwing schedule, the Buckeyes have at least had a chance to figure out who is next in line behind him.
"You never want to not throw as a [starting] quarterback, I get that," offensive coordinator Tom Herman said after a morning workout and before the injury. "... But for the young guys to get the live reps is invaluable. You can't put a value on it because it usually doesn't happen.
"We're making the most of it; obviously, we'd prefer it the other way, don't get me wrong. But we're certainly making the most of it."
The importance of maximizing those reps can't be underestimated now, and Barrett has been the individual taking the greatest advantage in a two-man race with Cardale Jones to fill the legendary shoes of Kenny Guiton on the depth chart behind Miller.
Rest assured, there will be much more to come as this story develops.