The one-game suspension of four potential starters for Ohio State has slightly altered the outlook for the opener against Virginia Tech. The Buckeyes won’t need any reminder about how difficult of a matchup this is, as Virginia Tech won in Columbus 35-21 last season.
Joey Bosa’s name was by far the biggest in Ohio State’s release of the suspensions for the opener against Virginia Tech. Bosa is considered one of the top players in college football and is a huge loss for defense. While it’s easy to overlook the three other players involved, receivers Dontre Wilson, Corey Smith and Jalin Marshall accounted for 79 catches last season.
Needless to say, that’s a lot of receptions to replace in one game, especially against a secondary pegged by most to be among the best in the nation.
With Wilson, Smith and Marshall all sidelined, Ohio State will have to turn to a familiar face as an impact player: Braxton Miller.
Junior Michael Thomas (54 catches) will be the most-established target for J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, but Miller has a chance to make an immediate impact in his first game as a receiver.
While Miller is still recovering from a shoulder injury and is just beginning his transition to receiver, Ohio State needs the senior to be ready for a full workload against the Hokies.
Miller is expected to play in the H-back role and could see 10-15 touches in the opener in a variety of ways. Throwing a pass? A rushing attempt? Both should be on the table.
The timetable for Miller’s transition has been altered with the news of the suspensions. Ideally, Ohio State would like to ease Miller into the gameplan and not ask too much in Week 1 – especially for a player that missed all of 2014 due to a shoulder injury.
While the Buckeyes aren’t solely relying on Miller to anchor their receiving corps in the opener, Miller’s position move is under the spotlight against a tough Virginia Tech defense. Without three key playmakers, the importance of Miller's transition and Thomas' development are critical to Ohio State's hopes of starting 1-0.
How quick can Miller go from quarterback to dynamic playmaker? The guess here is right away. But Miller is just starting to learn and develop as a receiver and it may take a full year for the senior to learn all of the nuances of the position.
Against Virginia Tech - a team with a good secondary and defensive line - Miller's first opportunity to be a dynamic playmaker at receiver is going to get tested right away in a tough environment. The opener already had plenty of intrigue for the Buckeyes, but there's added pressure and interest in how Miller performs with the news of three receiver suspensions.