April 19, 2014

Pieces of a Buckeye Rant

Each and every week I watch the Buckeyes play and try to think of certain topics that would be interesting to cover in the upcoming days. Each and every week I struggle to come up with something of substance. It is extremely annoying. What can I say about this team that has not already been beaten to death or given a fresh perspective on? Then my A.D.D. kicks in and I realize another thing that annoys me – certain aspects of this Ohio State team…hence the context of this post. I was thinking of giving it some creative name like ‘Rini’s Rants’ but all I could think of was Peter Griffin and the “Grinds My Gears” episode on Family Guy and decided it was too cheesy.

Catering to my obvious randomness from last weeks post, I thought these were a few good discussion points:

What type of quarterback to we have in Braxton Miller?

In one of my first articles I listed a few developmental concerns with this team that I saw going forward. There were no overwhelming glaring points, but I stated that I truly believed that Braxton had the tools and ability to become a pure pocket passer to the likes of a Troy Smith, rather than a Terrelle Pryor. I felt that a lot of it is dependent upon how the coaches view his ability as well because I believe that they will play to his strengths rather than ask him to fill a role that he is not capable of filling.

At this point, I honestly cannot say that I truly believe what I originally stated regardless of how Urban Meyer and Tom Herman decide to utilize his talents. Watching Braxton go through his progressions or blatantly miss his first option by a lot, is a little concerning at this point. Had Braxton been facing a more capable and disciplined defense, he certainly would have thrown multiple interceptions that would have led to a very different outcome on Saturday evening. Fact is, he didn’t, so it wasn’t. Fresh off of what looked to be a terrible injury, Braxton stepped up and once again did exactly what was asked of him; not to turn the ball over. The problem for me is that until he develops as a true quarterback, he will always be on the verge of that blowup game where his turnovers can potentially cost the Buckeyes a game.

Heisman consideration:
If the talks of Braxton potentially winning the Heisman were not serious conversations before Saturdays game, they are now.

“When I get asked a question like that, I give my honest answer,” Meyer said. “Do I believe he’s a Heisman candidate?  I do. I didn’t say that before. But I do believe Braxton is a Heisman candidate.”

Braxton Miller currently has more carries (166) than passing completions (112). What does that mean? I have no idea, I just thought it was an interesting stat for a quarterback considering that he is also averaging 6.6 yards-per-carry. To this point, Braxton has thrown for over 1,500 yards and has run for almost 1,100 yards which  definitely plants him in the Heisman consideration.

For comparison sake, quarterback Colin Klein from the Kansas State Wildcats is believed to be the next closest candidate sitting at just over 1,600 yards passing and just over 600 yards of rushing offense.

Option reads:

What a love/hate relationship this has become for me. I cannot remember a college quarterback that can sell the option as well as Miller does it each week. The obvious and immediate thought that comes to mind is how crippling it becomes for a defense to have to defend. It forces linebackers and defensive ends to make a decision on if they choose to cheat their original assignments in order to make a big play, or stand pat and wait for the play to fully develop. What Miller has become so masterful at doing is disguising those plays and giving himself an opportunity to read the defense and make a decision that is based off of their decision. It is truly an interesting play to see develop when it is done properly and Braxton has done a great job in confusing defenses on a consistent basis.

The problem (seeing a theme here?) for me is that the majority of the “option” part of the play rarely comes to fruition. Braxton is an incredibly talented athlete that obviously not only wants to make plays and win, but carry the team on his back when doing so. That mentality can be admirable when it is needed or crippling when inserted at the wrong time. There is a fine line between the two and because the distinction is not always evident, it can quickly become something that is chalked up to as a learning experience. I am not on the field; I do not see exactly what Miller is seeing as far as an openings in the defense so I could be completely off-base on this thought process, but I do know that what he is currently doing is working as this team is currently undefeated, sitting at 9-0.

“He had that look in his eye,” Meyer said. “There’s twice (Nebraska) this year that I’ve seen that look. He’s such a competitive guy. Our challenge is to get that out of a noon game. I saw the same thing.”

My fear with Braxton Miller at this point is that he will turn into Tim Tebow in years to come. I know that is just the worst possible thought ever but that is currently the path he is headed down. Unquestionably he is superior athlete, but he is also walking a line of becoming a running quarterback that never fully developed a true passing game and ending up as being one-dimensional. Urban Meyer’s job is to win and win now – it is not to develop these players to be NFL-ready like so many of us would like to believe.

*photo courtesy of collegefootball.ap.org

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    I don’t see Miller ever making it into the Troy Smith mold, but not necessarily because he isn’t capable. I think it has more to do with the fact that he won’t be asked to be a more pure pocket guy, and therefore won’t be coached into one. Based on his track record, Urban Meyer is going to utilize what a player has, and not generally work to develop what isn’t there already. It’s not a good strategy for preparing a guy (particularly a QB) for the next level, but that isn’t Meyer’s concern. I, too, worried when he was announced as coach, (one of the reasons being) because I worry that we won’t see the traditional Ohio State strengths at the next level. But, if a player is willing to follow an approach more like Meyer and less like Tress, then that’s the player’s choice. So Miller might not be a great traditional QB at the next level (and really, how many OSU guys ever are)? Let that be the next guy’s problem. If he brings a title to Columbus, I’ll remember him fondly regardless of what he does in the NFL.

  • JK

    1. Troy Smith played his worst game in his biggest game
    2. He did nothing in the NFL
    3. If they retire his #10 I’ll be sick
    4. I hate him

  • mgbode

    biggest game was #1 vs. #2Michigan. games for the Buckeyes do not get bigger than that game regardless of what else might be at stake. had a pretty good Saturday if I recall.

  • Dave

    Ha – maybe #4 should have been #1.

    In all fairness, if he didn’t have an emergency appendectomy, he had Joe Flacco beat for the starting job in Baltimore, so he was doing something right.

    While you can pin the Florida game on him, you and I both know there was much more to it than that. When he played Michigan weeks before he threw for over 300 yards and 4 TDs. That was almost an equally big stage.

  • JK

    Umm… No chance that game was bigger than the National Championship.

  • JK

    Yeah more to it like gaining around 50 lbs, throwing WR screens into the grass 10 yards in front of them, & getting chased down by DEs w no helmet on. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he threw that game.

  • JK

    Oh.. I also forgot, laughing on the bench in the 4th quarter.

  • tsm

    His Heisman makes him the greatest Buckeye QB ever. Florida game was indeed a bad one, but remember, he was just a kid. The trophy and beating Michigan probably went to his head and he didn’t prepare properly. All in all he had a great career. NFL career was affected by his illness which was the most significant factor in him losing the #1 spot. He had a strong and accurtate arm in college and was also an extremely elusive runner.

  • JK

    He had a great career, sure, save 1 game. He also had a lot of weapons and one hell of a defense so go ahead and factor that in. Let’s also not forget that he took money from a booster causing Justin Zwick to start the Texas game in Columbus & we all know how that went.

    Not only was he not the best QB in tOSU history, he wasn’t even the best QB in tOSU history to wear #10 (Rex Kern).

  • mgbode

    IMO. yes, it was. the only meeting of the Buckeyes and Wolverines when they were ranked #1 and #2. Bo Schembechler died the night before the game.

    we won.

    it sent Michigan into a tailspin (and got Lloyd Carr fired) and pushed the Buckeyes to the top of the Big10 heap for seasons afterwards.

  • JK

    They lost the National Championship……….

  • Dave

    Man, did he mess with your family or something??

    I’ll never defend taking money from a booster but that has absolutely nothing to do with his level of play anywhere at anytime. And yes, you can certainly separate the two to make a judgment based on talent and production versus being a model for the program.

  • JK

    The only reason I brought up him taking $ from a booster is because it cost us the UT game.

  • BisonDeleSightings

    So you’re saying was aided by offensive weapons and a great defense…but he killed the team by having to sit out the Texas game, depriving the team of his greatness? Why didn’t Zwick go in there and light up Texas?

  • BisonDeleSightings

    +1

  • JK

    That wasn’t the same year……..

  • Garry_Owen

    If “next level” includes the FBI, then I would think Johnny Utah counts.

  • cmm13

    UTAH… GET ME TWO!!

  • Steve

    Carr wasn’t fired because of that game, and that game didn’t send Michigan into a tailspin. The elitist Michigan fans felt that the redneck Rodriguez was not a true “Michigan man” and sabotaged themselves to run him out of town as quickly as possible. Their hubris was their own undoing. The Buckeyes got sit by and cackle with glee. And Ohio St was already at the top of the Big 10 heap.

  • mgbode

    they were simplifications, but if Michigan wins that game is Carr forced to step away just 1 year later despite going 9-4? or do they even lose to App-State, etc.?

    that was the lynchpin game that sent Michigan winds changing.

  • slbeef

    Braxton Miller currently has more carries (166) than passing completions (112). What does that mean? I have no idea,
    It means he is a running back who has a good throwing arm. He is not a quarterback.

  • Steve

    They still lose to App-St. I’m pretty sure Lloyd Carr still is confused that sometimes a QB can run the ball himself.

    Carr wasn’t forced to step away. There were some rumblings that they needed to make changes, but Carr has a lifetime pass at Michigan. He was an assistant AD for a couple years after his retirement from coaching, and he still is involved with athletics up there.

  • mgbode

    they were more than rumblings. basically, there was a strong faction of Michigan boosters that believed his style was a bygone of a past era and had no place in college football anymore. this led them to more or less forcing Carr out and wanting Les Miles and eventually settling on Rich-Rod.
    if they make the Nat’l Champ game, I think Carr holds on an extra year and I think Carr helps their next HC search more. a good chance he settles on someone who runs a program similar to him and happened to be a successful college HC in his own right to that point (along with being a Michigan man). yeah, I really think Jim Harbaugh would be Michigan HC right now had they won that game.
    let’s just say i am very glad that the Buckeyes won that game :)

  • Chris Topher McLafferty

    You must be JK-ing. Troy Smith was amazing. You clearly didn’t watch that National Championship game because you’re way off base. He had 1-2 seconds (if that) to throw everytime with no receivers getting open so he had nothing to work with. The fact that you would hate someone who led our team to one of the greatest seasons we’ve ever had just proves you are not a Buckeye but a whiney complainer who seems to be better fit as a Wolverine. Troy Smith is the greatest QB to ever play at OSU and I can argue that point all day.

  • Chris Topher McLafferty

    False, what it means is there has been more running opporunties so far and Meyer and Miller take what the D has given him (Also are you forgetting he’s a Sophomore and most sophomores don’t start QB for an undefeated Top 10 team) Be realistic here.

  • JK

    Right… I didn’t watch the game.

    What did he do in 06? He led an undefeated season (with great offensive pieces & one of the best defenses that’s played in that stadium.) He did it against a watered down B10 which got thrashed in bowl games. So, way to go, didn’t know you were happy with “almosts” & “could have beens.” You over looking the fact that he took money from a booster, & crapped himself in his biggest game as a Buckeye. You’re right, he was a pretty “amazing” regular season QB, trophy holder, & cheeseburger eater but let me give you his stat line for the ’06 NC in case you forgot:

    Troy Smith: 4/14 35 yards 0 TDs 1 INT 10 rushes -29 yards

    Greatest Buckeye QB huh? Pretty impressive I’d say.

    You can argue the “fact” that “Troy Smith is the greatest QB to ever play at OSU” all day because, to put it mildly, you’re ignorant. Woody Hayes, yano, the guy who made tOSU football, said that Rex Kern was the greatest field general he had ever coached, so that’s good enough for me. Oh…. & he won a national championship.

  • Dave

    If we’re throwing around hand-picked stats, look at his entire 2006 season. Over a 65% completion percentage on 2,500+ yards, with a 30/6 TD/INT ratio.

    One game doesn’t define a QB’s career. We’ve all learned that being Ohio sports fans, but I’d gladly take a sample set of a season than one game to figure out how well/poorly someone has done.

  • JK

    Like I already said, he did so with a tremendous offense, & in a watered down Big Ten.

    Also one game does define your career when you’re a Heisman trophy winner playing for the national championship. I think of nothing else of his career other than that game when I think about 10.

  • Garry_Owen

    I know I’m super late to this conversation, but I’m honestly curious: What’s your opinion of Jim Tressel?

  • JK

    Love Tress, honestly feel like he fell on the sword for tOSU. Firmly believe that we don’t know anywhere near the whole truth to “tattoo gate.” Gene Smith on the other hand……..

  • Garry_Owen

    But Tressel covered up NCAA violations – jeopardizing the entire program – and lost TWO National Championship games. Why the difference in opinion (feeling) between him and Troy Smith (a young kid from a troubled background)?

  • JK

    I don’t know how much he covered up, like I said I think the complete truth will never be told. It was said that Tress did report the violations, but perhaps incorrectly or whatever else. Besides the fact that its completely possible he didn’t know about all of the problems going on, he’s a head football coach at one of the biggest universities in the country, I’m sure he had a lot of things going on. I don’t have any harsh feelings for TS personally (lol), I just really think he’s the most overrated Buckeye of all time & it annoys me to no end when people say his number should be retired when he’s not even the best QB to ever wear the number 10. I understand the fact that most people never saw Rex Kern play but that doesn’t mean you should ignore history.

  • Garry_Owen

    Fair enough. It just seems a little inconsistent, particularly considering that Tressel was, indeed, the Head Football Coach. He held a responsibility and duty that far exceeded anything his players ever held.

    As for retiring Smith’s jersey, OSU has retired all of the jerseys of its Heisman winners. (I was at the game when they retired Eddie George’s. My throat was hoarse from cheering.) For that reason alone, Smith deserves to have his #10 jersey retired. He might not have been the best #10, but he was the only #10 to win a Heisman. That’s enough for me.

  • JK

    The principle of the situation makes no sense, how can you retire #10 for someone who wasn’t even the best player to wear that number while they also both played the same position. What’s more important heisman trophies or national championships? To almost everyone on here it seems like heisman trophies.

    Also in 68 the year they won the national championship OJ Simpson won the heisman so it woulda been a little hard for him to over come that, & in 69 he finished 3rd in the voting. He’s also in the CFB HOF & easily one of the greatest Buckeyes ever.. not just one of the greatest QBs ever.

  • Garry_Owen

    I just figured it out! The “K” in JK must stand for “Kern!” How is your old man? (I’m kidding, of course. Unless it’s true; then really, how is the old man?)

    All I can say is, take it up with the university. It’s the athletic department’s policy (I believe) to retire the jersey #s of Heisman winners. I’m not saying it’s the best policy (you certainly make a good point), but if it was good for Horvath, Janowicz, Cassady, Griffin, and George, then it’s good enough for Smith.

    If I was the AD, I’d retire #10 with the names “Kern” and “Smith” under it. Both deserve the honor.

  • JK

    ………….& knowning is half the battle

  • Garry_Owen

    G. I. Joe!

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