Braxton Miller doesn’t play favorites. His job is to get the ball to the open man.
But the Ohio State quarterback is glad Jeff Heuerman was so active in the passing game against Purdue. Miller believes the junior tight end does too much grunt work in the trenches not to see a few spirals come his way.
“You’ve got to reward big guys like that. He does a helluva job blocking for the running backs,” Miller said. “It was the perfect defense for Jeff.”
Heuerman had five catches for 116 yards and one TD in the 56-0 win Saturday. Some of the receptions came when he was left completely unguarded because Purdue was so preoccupied with other threats on the OSU offense.
The Buckeyes hadn’t had a 100-yard receiving game by a tight end since Rickey Dudley’s 106 yards against Tennessee in the 1996 Citrus Bowl. The last Buckeye tight end to surpass Heuerman’s total was John Frank, who had 123 against Michigan in 1983.
“I don’t think it’s me as much as it is the other guys,” Heuerman said. “Having a running back like Carlos Hyde and a quarterback like Braxton Miller — and some of our offensive weapons like Dontre Wilson and Devin Smith and Evan Spencer and Corey Brown — the defense has to respect all of them, and it puts them in a bind.
“Having all those guys being so good and so productive puts me in a position where it makes my blocks easier and makes my routes easier. If you’ve got Devin Smith running down (on a pattern) and me in the flat, who are they going to cover?”
His point was that it’s a no-brainer to blanket Smith, but coach Urban Meyer believes Heuerman is becoming an effective target himself.
“He’s playing at a much higher level than he did the first five games, and he’s an important part of the passing game,” Meyer said.
Picked off: Miller threw his first interception since the Northwestern game Oct. 5 in the first quarter.
On third-and-4 at the Purdue 32, he tried to squeeze the ball into a tight window to Devin Smith. But cornerback Ricardo Allen made a diving stab for his 10th career interception.
“I hit that a few times in practice,” Miller said. “The corner got too much depth and made a good play on it. But I really don’t get down on myself (after interceptions).”
Miller has only three picks this season. One came in the first game when Buffalo’s Khalil Mack blew up a blind screen. The other occurred when NW’s Ifeadi Odenigbo hit Miller’s arm while he was throwing, and the pass fluttered into enemy hands.
Miller had six interceptions in 254 passes in 2012, one every 42.7 throws. His pick pace this year is one every 49.7 attempts.
Guiton appearance: Sub QB Kenny Guiton did a Tim Tebow impersonation for two plays midway through the second quarter with Miller playing wide receiver.
After rushing for a short gain, he faked a run into the line, pulled up and threw a jump-pass to Chris Fields for a one-yard TD.
Buckeye fans might remember Tebow making that maneuver for Florida in the 2006 national title game.
Guiton started the second half and finished 8-of-11 passing for 59 yards and one TD and rushed nine times for 98 yards and two scores.
Asked if the Buckeyes might have the best two quarterbacks in the Big Ten, Meyer would only say he’s happy with his pair.
Heuerman took it a step further: “Yeah, definitely. You see when we put Kenny in, our offense is still like knife through butter down the field. That’s something really special we have. It allows us to do a lot of things.”
Injury report: Right tackle Taylor Decker was hurt at 1:19 of the fourth quarter, suffering what Meyer called a sprained knee ligament. “He’ll probably be out a week or so,” he said.
Defensive tackle Michael Bennett left the game with a pinched nerve and watched the second half in a sweat suit. Meyer said he thought Bennett’s injury wasn’t serious.
Less Hyde: After rushing for 464 yards in his previous three games (with a 7.0 average), Carlos Hyde had a limited workload because he wasn’t needed. He rushed eight times for 111 yards.
The 6-foot, 230-pound senior is the only running back in the nation with a minimum of 60 attempts who hasn’t been tackled for a loss. He was stopped for no gain on his first carry, fighting to get to the line of scrimmage. After that, he easily thundered through the Purdue line.