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April 2, 2013

Miller shows toughness in confrontation

Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham



COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Braxton Miller impressed Urban Meyer on Tuesday, albeit not in a way that quarterbacks typically inspire their head coaches.

Participating in a "winner-loser" scrimmage during Ohio State's ninth spring practice of the preseason, Miller ran a zone-read option with Rod Smith, handing the ball off to the Buckeyes running back. When he turned around- and despite wearing a black no-contact jersey- Miller was met by defensive end Noah Spence, who sent Ohio State's star quarterback tumbling to the ground.

After spending a minute sitting down, Miller got up and headed over to the opposing sideline, where he exchanged words with members of the Buckeyes defense, before being separated by senior wide receiver Corey Brown.

Asked about the brief skirmish, Meyer didn't make much of the incident, but also didn't mind his quarterback's response to it.

"I like quarterbacks that want to go get in a streetfight and get after it," Meyer. "That's not probably the time to do it, but he's a competitor. So you're asking what kind of reaction would I want out of a quarterback? I didn't really see what happened, but Braxton is a competitor. I guess that's better than the opposite, just curl up and, 'Why did he hit me?' So he's a tough kid."

Miller ultimately sat out a couple of series of the scrimmage- which was won by the offense- but returned for a few plays, including one in which he lowered his shoulder into linebacker David Perkins. Meyer obviously wants to keep last season's Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year healthy through this preseason, but is okay with him taking some contact, so long as it's in the right context.

"It's football and we ran option to the left," Meyer said. "He's fine."

For a team that's as dependent on it's signal-caller as the Buckeyes are, Miller would be wise to avoid anymore hits like the one he took on Tuesday. But the competitive spirit that he showed in his response could certainly be viewed as a positive, especially since it didn't appear to come at a price.

Other updates:

-Reserve offensive lineman Antonio Underwood tore his ACL on Thursday and is expected to miss the upcoming season.

-Meyer is still looking for a replacement for Reid Fragel at right tackle, and mentioned that the battle is currently between Taylor Decker and Chase Farris for that spot. The Ohio State coach also said that guard-center Pat Elflein is emerging, and could cause a shake-up on the line should neither Decker or Farris catch on.

-The offense won the scrimmage on the final play, a goal line fade from Kenny Guiton to Nick Vannett.

-Meyer is particularly pleased with the progress of the wide receivers this offseason, especially Brown and Devin Smith.

-In an extensive scrimmage on Saturday, Meyer said that third-string quarterback Cardale Jones played the best that he has in his time at Ohio State.



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