With less than 72 hours before No. 4 Ohio State plays at California, the status of injured Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller is still uncertain.
Coach Urban Meyer said Miller got in a little work at Wednesday’s practice but then had another session of rehab for his injured left knee.
”We’ll know more tomorrow,” Meyer said. ”He’s going on the trip and tomorrow’s going to be the day we’ll find out how much he’ll play.”
Miller, who sustained a sprained ligament in his left knee early in the Buckeyes’ 42-7 win over San Diego State last weekend, has been receiving treatment and throwing the ball this week. Meyer said Tuesday he was ”fairly optimistic” that the junior might play.
”I feel about the same (today),” Meyer said.
Miller went through light, non-contact practices with the team Tuesday and Wednesday. He wore a big brace on the knee.
”It’s not as sore, it’s an MCL so it’s a little unstable,” Meyer said. ”He’s got to get used to that brace.”
Meyer, who said it was a concern that he didn’t know Miller’s status this late in the week, didn’t disregard that he might start Kenny Guiton and would then insert Miller if possible.
The Buckeyes (2-0) will be playing their first road game against the Bears (1-1).
Safety Christian Bryant said Miller looked OK in a limited appearance in practice.
”Braxton looks good,” he said. ”I saw him throw the ball a few times. But I think he’s just focusing on getting back so he can be ready.”
Miller has a history of injuries, leading some fans calling into talk shows or posting on message boards to question his durability. He missed portions of his high school career to injury and has had to leave six games with injuries at Ohio State.
He left with a sprained ankle in 2011 at Nebraska with the Buckeyes ahead 27-6 but they ended up losing 34-27. After taking hits, he missed portions of the Michigan State and Indiana games a year ago, but returned each time as the Buckeyes won.
In the season-opening 40-20 win over Buffalo, he left the game twice with leg cramps but returned each time, replaced by backup Kenny Guiton.
Guiton threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in relief of Miller in last Saturday’s win over San Diego State. Guiton endeared himself to Ohio State fans a year ago in the eighth game when he came in after Miller was hit hard on a third-quarter tackle against Purdue.
”He’s a distributor,” Meyer said Wednesday of Guiton. ”He’s a manager and he’s looked pretty good.”
Guiton faltered until leading a dramatic 61-yard touchdown drive in the last minute, then completing a two-point conversion pass to force overtime. The Buckeyes ended up winning that game 29-22 and went on to a 12-0 season.
Meyer said earlier this week that he has no lingering doubts about whether Miller can play through minor pain.
”No. (It’s) obvious that quarterbacks at times get hit, especially Braxton, who is a fearless player,” Meyer said. ”I just think we always have to have Plan B (Guiton) ready.”
Tight end Jeff Heuerman said fans have no reason to question Miller’s toughness.
”You’re going to get bumps and bruises. You’re going to have things not always go your way. There’s no reason to be concerned,” he said. ”Braxton plays a huge role in this offense, especially with his legs. So he’s moving around a lot, he’s throwing the ball, he’s got a bunch of reads. Sometimes things don’t go as planned; he took a shot and his knee twisted up a little bit. But he’ll be fine. I don’t think there’s any major concern about the way he plays. He’s a dynamic, incredible athlete.”