QB checks: Braxton Miller ready for contact

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The pads and black, non-contact jersey had already been peeled off as Braxton Miller walked through the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to meet the media.

The sophomore quarterback made clear right away that he's ready to use that protective equipment in a live setting.

As for that practice jersey? Miller probably won't miss it on Saturday as Ohio State takes on Miami (Ohio).

"Oh yeah," he said after practice on Tuesday. "I’ve had it on too long."

It's finally coming off this weekend as the Buckeyes open the season and debut a spread offense that seems custom made for Miller's dynamic athletic ability.

The trick all month for the coaching staff has been making sure he's healthy enough to operate it when the time comes, which has kept him from being tackled even while Ohio State installs rushing plays designed to capitalize on his mobility.

Miller has faced some limited contact throughout the month, but the defense has had strict orders not to take him to the ground while he's in that black shirt. Urban Meyer has occasionally taken matters into his own hands as well, with the Ohio State coach blowing more than a few plays dead early to ensure his starter is fresh and ready to go.

"I mean, I get thudded-up some of the time, but usually he calls the whistle fast," Miller said. "It’s just better on my body and stuff like that."

The Buckeyes kept it in top shape in August. Now Miller is ready to turn the calendar -- and change his wardrobe.

Getting comfy: The option plays are similar to what he operated in high school.

The faster tempo apparently appeals to Miller's aggressive approach.

And aside from the offense, he's also had a year to develop a leadership style in the locker room and a chance to settle into college life.

It all adds up to a more confident quarterback, and also a more comfortable one.

"I just feel like myself," Miller said. "I don’t have too much on my back or anything like that, so it makes everything easy.

"Last year I was just coming in out of high school as a freshman, and it’s kind of hard to get the upperclassmen to understand where you’re coming from. (The new coaches) definitely helped me out with that, every day. Every day."

Sneak peek: The game plans are subject to change from game to game, and Miller wasn't going to reveal any specifics about the first one of the season.

But he did offer an estimate on the average number of passes he'll throw this season, pegging his attempts at around 18-to-20 per game.

His rushing attempts, though, are a bit tougher to predict.

"Oh man, they really don’t call too many (quarterback) run plays," Miller said. "So if a play breaks down, I might make something happen with my feet."