Ohio State Football: Will Braxton Miller Really Be Ready for the Season Opener?

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Ohio State Football: Will Braxton Miller Really Be Ready for the Season Opener?
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press
Braxton Miller sat out spring practice after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.

Since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, every indication has been that Braxton Miller will be good to go when Ohio State takes the field for its season opener against Navy on Aug. 30.

But will Miller be good to go?

You see, there's a difference between be ready to go and ready to go, especially at Ohio State and extra especially at the quarterback position in Urban Meyer's spread offense. Being ready to go would indicate that Miller will be able to put on his uniform and execute the necessary game plan to nullify Navy. Being ready to go? That means Miller playing like the reigning two-time Big Ten MVP he is.

We've seen enough from Miller in fall camp to know he can do the former. Through the Buckeyes' first nine practices of the preseason, Miller has participated here and there, as the OSU coaching staff has admittedly monitored his throwing reps throughout his recovery.

As for the latter, Meyer has admitted Miller isn't there—at least not yet. Asked on Sunday if the Buckeyes would need to rely on a run-heavy game plan if a game were about to be played, Meyer conceded that they would, before noting that's not the situation Ohio State finds itself in.

"If the game was tomorrow, because of where he's at, we would be very cautious with Braxton," Meyer said. "But we have three weeks."

That may be the case, and Meyer has repeatedly stated that Miller's limitations are part of a larger plan to ensure that he'll be healthy for the Buckeyes' upcoming meeting with the Midshipmen. But at the very least, it has to be concerning to not have the centerpiece of the OSU offense practicing with the OSU offense, as evidenced by Meyer's decision to hold Miller out of last Saturday's team scrimmage.

"He could have practiced yesterday, but we're in it for the long haul, so he's right on schedule," Meyer insisted on Sunday. "I've dealt with guys with arm issues before, and we're being very cautious."

Jay LaPrete/Associated Press
Through a week of fall camp, Braxton Miller's reps have been limited.

But that doesn't change the fact that the Buckeyes are nearly two weeks away from the start of their season and their star player isn't on the practice field on a full-time basis. Mental reps may make for a solid sound bite or alibi, but even Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman has admitted to this fall camp having been frustrating without the constant presence of his star player.

“It’s been challenging,” Herman said. “But you try not to concern yourself with things you can’t change, and you can’t change it. It’s there. Would we like Braxton to be able to go through a 24-period practice all day, every day with two-a-days included and all that? Yeah. But he’s not there yet."

That's not to say that the OSU coaching staff has been surprised by Miller's limitation—both Meyer and Herman insist they expected it—but just because it was expected doesn't make it any less problematic.

With a relatively inexperienced receiving corps expected to be relied on, the Buckeyes wideouts could use all the reps they can get with their starting quarterback, and those have been hard to come by with Miller standing on the sideline.

For what it's worth, however, Miller insists that he's doing just fine. Asked about not taking part in his team's most recent scrimmage, the two-time reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year stuck to the company line, stating that his absence was part of a more important plan.

"I feel great," Miller proclaimed. "I took a day off to be where I need to be."

But as we learned from Meyer's comments, where Miller needs to be today and on Aug. 30 are clearly two different places. And while Miller may be good to go at the moment, the Buckeyes will need him to be good go sooner rather than later to enjoy a successful 2014 season.

 

Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Ohio State Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All recruiting information comes courtesy of 247Sports.

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