Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Braxton Miller
The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — Ohio State interim head football coach Luke Fickell spoke on many different issues Tuesday afternoon during his media luncheon in Columbus, ranging from not playing true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller against Toledo, to the playing status of several key players going into Saturday's road tilt at Miami (Fla.), to the similarities between what the Buckeyes and Hurricanes have gone through in recent months.

But of course, priority No. 1 at Ohio State this week — as always — is focussed on the quarterback position. Fickell has been criticized by the fans and media in recent days for not playing the popular freshman Miller during Saturday's narrow victory against visiting Toledo, even when fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman was struggling to move the offense with any sustaining success.

Fickell didn't waver Tuesday on his decision of keeping his freshman Miller on ice against Toledo.

"We don't have any regrets," Fickell said. "I don't think we're going to look back and feel regret. Braxton was dinged up a little bit ... But we had a plan going in and maybe it didn't quite happen exactly how you wanted, we had to adjust on the run. We're not going to look back on it."

Although Miller was less than 100-percent going into Saturday, Fickell wouldn't admit that health was the main reasoning for him not seeing action against the Rockets.

"I didn't say that (he was held back because of injury)," Fickell said of Miller. "I said he was dinged up a little bit earlier in the week and we had a plan going in. Maybe we adjusted the plan a little bit. But the most important thing is, we're all moving forward."

Miller is still listed as a starter with Bauserman, according to the depth chart for this Saturday night's game at Miami (Fla.).

Miller's playing status against Miami isn't the only one in question this Saturday, as there are several key Ohio State players who may not see the field in Miami — either due to injuries or suspensions.

As for the most notable injured Buckeyes, sophomore receiver Philly Brown (ankle) and senior defensive lineman Nathan Williams (leg), Fickell said their playing status is yet to be determined.

"We still don't know yet," Fickell said. "Obviously there's two guys we're not positive on, but hopefully we'll know a little more today. It's still a little bit too early to tell."

Fickell did say, though, that Brown's chances of suiting up don't look good as of Tuesday.

"I don't know that he looks great right now," Fickell said. "We'll see."

If Brown is unable to play Saturday, red-shirt sophomore Chris Fields will be his replacement. Fields has three receptions for 20 yards this season. He also recorded a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown last week against Toledo.

The Buckeyes coach also stated that the status of those who have been suspended is still up in the air.

Preseason starters, tailback Jordan Hall and cornerback Travis Howard — as well as backup safety Corey Brown — have missed the first two games of the season for accepting improper benefits at a charity event earlier this year. The Buckeyes have yet to hear from the NCAA about their reinstatement, as of Tuesday afternoon.

"Right now we're still pending and waiting," Fickell said. "I won't make any jumps to conclusion. Don't know right now, we'll have to wait and see. Hopefully we'll hear something soon."

One player who will return — according to Fickell — is offensive lineman Corey Linsley. The red-shirt sophomore, who was serving an "unofficial" team suspension during the first two games, is listed on the current depth chart as the backup right guard to Marcus Hall.

The Buckeyes' opponent this Saturday certainly knows a thing or two about off-field issues. Miami has had several players suspended recently for accepting improper benefits, ranging from accepting cash gifts to being guests at elaborate parties, where illegal activities were taking place.

The Hurricanes, like the Buckeyes, have a new head coach in Al Golden, who comes in trying to clean up the mess left behind from the previous regime.

Fickell said he and Golden could probably share a few things about their situations with one another.

"I'm sure if I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with (Golden), we could share some serious ideas," Fickell said. "I don't imagine he's got a whole lot of time worrying about what's going on here at Ohio State and I don't have a whole lot of time to sit down and think about what's going on there.

"Obviously, we have to take care of our programs, but hopefully here this off-season we can maybe share some ideas about how we go about dealing with some of those of situations."

MOELLER READY TO MAKE YOU LOVE HIM ... No player on Ohio State has faced more adversity than senior defensive back Tyler Moeller.

The sixth-year veteran from Cincinnati has went through a near deadly head injury two years ago and a torn pectoral muscle last year, claiming most of his collegiate career. In the first two games of this season, Moeller hasn't had a lot of opportunities to make his presence felt the way he's accustomed to, recording just two tackles on the year.

However, Moeller insists that he's still the same great player the fans have come to love over the years. He said he just needs to stop pressing the issue on the field and start taking advantage of the opportunities that come his way.

"Hopefully I can get a few opportunities to make a couple turnovers so you guys can start liking me again," Moeller laughed. "I'm still the same player I was last year and the year before that. When plays come my way I need to start making those plays that come my way ...

"My problem is, I think I'm trying to make the plays instead of just playing it. I need to do a good job of just calming down and playing my game. I'll be fine ... so you guys can like me again."