NCAA FB

Miller takes shot to ribs during Ohio St practice

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)

Quarterback Braxton Miller took a shot to the ribs for the second time in a week but Ohio State's Heisman Trophy candidate finished practice Tuesday and Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said the junior was fine.

The Big Ten's player of the year in 2012 was hit on an option pitch by defensive end Noah Spence even though Miller was wearing a black (for no contact) jersey.

Miller stayed down for several minutes. As backup Kenny Guiton replaced him, Miller confronted some defensive players on the sideline before being restrained by teammates.

Miller was held out of three series before returning to practice in preparation for the spring game on April 13.

It will be held at Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium because of concrete work being done to Ohio Stadium.

Afterward, Meyer was unfazed, noting that Miller was already nursing a sore rib from a hit last week but that the tackle by Spence was in no way malicious.

''It's football,'' Meyer said. ''We ran option. (Miller) got hit in the same spot.''

Neither was he displeased that Miller got up and went after the defensive players.

''I like quarterbacks that want to go get in a street fight and go after it,'' Meyer said. ''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's a competitor.

''I guess that's better than the opposite, just lay on the ground and curl up and, `Why did he hit me?' So, he's a tough kid.''

Miller, a 6-foot-2, 215 pound junior, was fifth in Heisman voting last season as the Buckeyes went 12-0 in Meyer's first season in Columbus but were ineligible for the conference championship and a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions.

One reason for the success was a veteran offensive line that returns four seniors with a combined 80 starts but must find a replacement for right tackle Reid Fragel, who exhausted his eligibility.

Meyer said the competition is between Taylor Decker, Chase Farris and Pat Elflein. Decker as a freshman last year waged a spirited preseason battle with Fragel, who was in his first season at the position after being converted from tight end.

The three candidates lack experience and Meyer acknowledged that it won't be easy to fill the void left by Fragel.

''That's the hardest position to take a jump,'' in improvement, Meyer said.

One player who won't have the opportunity to help the offensive line is Antonio Underwood, who suffered a torn ACL last week and is out for the season, said Meyer. Underwood started one game as a freshman in 2011.

''It's really a shame,'' Meyer said. ''For the first time in his career he was making a real push, fighting his way into the rotation. He was having a heck of a spring. He was in the top eight (among linemen).''

Meyer also said he will be experimenting with a version of the pistol offense that has Miller and three backs in a diamond set.

Meyer praised the receivers' corps for their progress almost a year after famously calling the unit a ''clown show'' for their lack of execution and poor efforts.

''We're just much better than we were last year at this time,'' he said. ''First of all, I probably didn't know who they were. They weren't very good.''

Defensive lineman Chris Carter is on a weight limit that he appears to be managing so far.

''It's 340 (pounds) and if he goes over that he can't play for Ohio State,'' Meyer said. ''It's not safe. He's done a nice job with it. He just has to play a little better.''

The spring media guide lists Carter at 6-4, 341.

Tagged: Ohio, Reid Fragel, Ohio State, Braxton Miller

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