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.
“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.
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