Ohio State QB Braxton Miller (5) runs past Miami defender Dayonne Nunley (3) during the first quarter September 1, in Columbus.
COLUMBUS -- Weary and aching, Braxton Miller's historic Saturday afternoon remained a blur. The Ohio State quarterback appeared taken aback when a reporter asked if he was comfortable running the ball 17 times.
"I ran it 17 times?" he asked with a smile after the Buckeyes' 56-10 victory over Miami. "I didn't realize that. I'm fine with it."
Urban Meyer, however, was not. "Too many times," the OSU coach said.
Miller's performance Saturday highlighted the fine line Ohio State must walk with its star quarterback.
Coaches do not want to restrict such a dynamic talent. Miller showed it all Saturday, running for 161 yards -- a single-game school record for a quarterback -- and accounting for a career-high 368 yards of total offense. That figure surpassed OSU's offensive totals from 11 games last season, earned Miller recognition as the Buckeyes' offensive player of the week, and inspired fringe talk of the "H" word.
"Oh gosh," Meyer said Monday, shaking his head when told a handful of analysts had listed Miller as a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate.
Miller, however, at times Saturday still appeared a quarterback more comfortable trafficking via ground than air. The elephant in the room: Can a player with a history of minor injuries dating to high school, who left the game with cramps twice during the muggy opener, withstand the wear?
Meyer said 10 to 12 carries per game would be more ideal as Miller evolves as passer and becomes a better decision-maker in the Buckeyes' spread option offense.
Miller's youth was evident Saturday. Though he overcame an edgy start to complete 14 of 24 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns, his footwork and poise left room for improvement.
"When he has a nice stroke, he's as good a passer as I've ever seen," Meyer said. "When he pops open and wants to get out there so fast, his fundamentals kind of get away from him. One time he scrambled out of the pocket instead of hanging in there with a little option route we ran for [Corey] Brown. So he's going through some growing pains."
Miller's number of runs also will diminish as he grows more comfortable reading defenses on the Buckeyes' staple zone-read option play. He kept the ball when he should have pitched it at least twice Saturday, according to Meyer.
"He has to make a read on every play, so he's going to make a few mistakes," Meyer said.
Ultimately, Meyer knows that is part of the deal. The coach will not hold back his best playmaker, and besides, he is confident the Buckeyes' backup quarterback can capably spell Miller -- at least in the short term.
"I like Kenny Guiton, so we're going to be more … I don't want to say reckless, but we're going to be more aggressive because I have trust in two quarterbacks," Meyer said recently.
Meyer arrived at OSU so dubious of Guiton's work ethic that he would give the junior from Houston pop quizzes on the sideline to make sure he was paying attention.
Now, Guiton, who completed 5 of 9 passes for 37 yards Saturday, said Meyer calls him "Coach" because of his knowledge of the offense.
Still, there is only one quarterback answering way-too-early inquiries about his Heisman candidacy.
"Braxton is one of those freaks of nature that has a lot of ability and great things can happen to him," Meyer said. "But there won't be billboards posted anywhere or anything like that."
BELLAMY EXITS: Former starting defensive end Adam Bellamy will not rejoin OSU because of a personal issue. The junior, who started 10 games last season and entered fall camp listed as a co-starter at defensive end, took a leave from the team earlier this month.
"He just lost his love of the game of football and didn't want to play anymore," Meyer said. "A year ago, he went through a very similar situation. He's a great kid."
Contact David Briggs at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6084, or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.
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