OSU Football: How Braxton Miller's Surgery Impacts Buckeyes' Spring Practice

Andrew Coppens@@andycoppensContributor IFebruary 24, 2014

USA Today

Last week, it was revealed that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was having an operation on his throwing shoulder. According to Tim May in the Columbus Dispatch, this is a minor surgery, but it is expected to limit Miller's activity this spring game. 

Having to undergo surgery is never good, however minor others believe it to be. Yet in this case, it could be a big blessing in disguise.

That's because there is no Kenny Guiton behind Miller, no backup we all have seen be a plug-and-play option should anything happen to Miller. 

Sep 14, 2013; Berkeley, CA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Cardale Jones (12) stands on the field before the start of the game against the California Golden Bears at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Behind Miller is a group that has thrown a grand total of two collegiate passes, both by presumed backup Cardale Jones. 

Jones also added 128 rushing yards on 17 attempts in his three games of action in 2013. So, while we've seen his ability in the run game at times, there's much more to playing quarterback than being able to run the ball. 

The other quarterback under the spotlight for spring football this season is redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett. He is a former 4-star recruit, according to 247Sports.

Joining those two is early entrant Stephen Collier, a 3-star recruit who could really benefit from the extra work, even if he is likely on the outside looking in for the backup spot come the fall. 

If offensive coordinator Tom Herman gets his way, Jones will be getting the first look with the starters. As he told Doug Lesmerises of Cleveland.com about how he sees the spring rotation working behind Miller:

Based on pure game experience and the fact that he’s been in the program, I think Cardale Jones has earned the right to take the very first rep with the second team. Now, how many he’ll get from that point forward and how long or short his leash is will be up to him and then up to how J.T. makes the most of his reps and Stephen as well.

Jones and Barrett will also be working with a new offensive line and a revamped wide receiver corp. It's something that could help Barrett the most, as he worked heavily as the scout team quarterback with a lot of the other redshirt players. 

In those moments, Herman was able to see Barrett has the "it factor," according to Lesmerises' article: 

You want to talk about intangibles and just being able to feel when guys kind of have that it factor, he’s got that. He has a quick release, he’s pretty accurate, and those things are what drew us toward him. Now he’s done laying in the weeds, now he has to get out of the weeds and attack this thing.

As for the rest of the young guys, the good news is, Miller was exuding excitement over the future of the line and the wide receivers before his surgery.

"The young guys, redshirting last year, they got big shoes to fill," Miller told Lesmerises.  "They're going to be outstanding when they first step out at spring practice...they're going to be a lot of guys around me this year. It's going to be more fun." 

If Miller was looking forward to playing with this group in the spring, imagine what Jones and Barrett are feeling. After all, those two have been working with the younger players on the roster all of last year. 

The chemistry between those quarterbacks and the rest of the young players could play a key role in what happens this spring. 

While there will be a lot of focus on the two, the good news is, there is still a full year before a new starter will need to be in place. So, watching to see who stands out will be fun, but it won't be essential to the success of the Buckeyes in 2014. 

The team is going to be in trouble if it is without Braxton Miller anyway. Having no Carlos Hyde behind him means no crutch to lean on with a young and inexperienced quarterback. 

For the Buckeyes, 2014's spring camp and game will be all about exposing the young players—especially the quarterbacks—to as many reps as possible in hopes of having someone emerge as a playmaker for the future. 


*Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for Big Ten football. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens


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