COLUMBUS, Ohio — The ability to make all the throws was always evident. Tom Herman had seen the impressive arm strength plenty on the practice field, and for some of the criticism the Ohio State offensive coordinator’s prized pupil has taken for his accuracy, Braxton Miller is more than capable of fitting a football into a tight spot.
+ EnlargeAndrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsBraxton Miller’s four touchdown passes against Wisconsin were a display of the wide variety of throws in his arsenal.But even if a quarterback has the necessary skills to deliver any pass in Herman’s playbook, it won’t mean much without the confidence to actually pull the trigger when the time comes. And with one perfectly-placed, back-shoulder touchdown throw on a secondary read against a stout defense, Miller provided a perfect example of the difference it makes when those two traits are combined into one dangerous package. “I think it’s a throw he wouldn’t have made,” Herman said. “He could have made it, absolutely could have. He wouldn’t have made it, because he didn’t trust himself.
“He didn’t trust what he saw, he didn’t trust when he saw it, he might have seen it a split-second too late, he might not have trusted the fact that what he was seeing was reality. But the kid physically is not much different than he was last year.”
Miller was no slouch as a sophomore, and he’s got plenty of hardware from the Big Ten, a fifth-place finish in the Heisman Trophy race and a perfect record from a year ago to show for it.
But there was also clearly room for him to grow and develop as a passer after completing just more than 58 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns against six interceptions. Herman and Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer delivered that message to Miller early and often in the offseason after defenses had started to adjust to his threat on the ground late last season by loading the box and daring him to throw.
A knee sprain suffered on the opening drive of the second game this season had largely kept him from showing off his improvements in that area, but three first-half touchdowns against the Badgers put it on full display in front of a national audience in primetime, each touchdown showcasing the strides in his game.
There was a bullet thrown across his body on a play-action rollout for a 25-yard strike to Evan Spencer, which was followed up working through his progression to Devin Smith on the second touchdown of the game. And just before halftime, he looked off the coverage to the right, stepped up in the pocket and fired a bomb to the left for a 40-yard connection with Philly Brown — the throw that Miller himself pointed to as one he wouldn’t have made a year ago.
“I probably would have checked it down to Carlos Hyde or something like that,” Miller said. “Just going through my reads and being comfortable with the offense and knowing where everybody is at, that’s a big advantage.
“Last year, we didn’t really know how to run routes, I really wasn’t comfortable with the playbook as much as I am right now. It just takes time, offseason working with the guys to get time and placement with the ball and outcomes like that in the game can happen all the time.”
That’s obviously the plan, and if Miller can continue to put up efficient, productive outings like he did against the Badgers with his arm, an already explosive rushing attack could become even more of a handful.
Even for all those positives, though, the work still isn’t done. Miller made at least one throw that could have been an interception, wasn’t flawless with his decisions and also left some yards on the field by scrambling horizontally instead of looking to get down the field.
But the overall progress was hard to ignore.
“Graded out well, but not great,” Herman said. “Certainly better than probably what I had expected, which was a positive.
“Mentally and consistency with his mechanics and footwork, all that is 10 times better than it was.”
Now he’s got some throws on film to prove it.
September, 8, 2013 Sep 8 9:00 AM ET COLUMBUS, Ohio — A closer look at the standouts in Ohio State’s 42-7 laugher over San Diego State on Saturday at the Horseshoe. QB Kenny Guiton: The backup quarterback coming off the bench to keep the offense rolling without Braxton Miller on the field isn’t a new thing for the Buckeyes, but typically Guiton isn’t needed for all that long. With Miller going down with a knee injury on the opening drive against the Aztecs, suddenly the senior was needed for what amounted to a complete game — and he again delivered exactly what Ohio State needed. Guiton might not have the same speed or arm strength as his decorated teammate, but he showed some similar traits with 83 rushing yards, 152 more through the air and 3 combined touchdowns to offer another reminder of his value in reserve.
DT Michael Bennett: The reviews from coach Urban Meyer about the junior’s work on the practice field have bordered on gushing, but Bennett backed them up by stuffing the stats sheet and anchoring an aggressive defensive line on the interior. Bennett chipped in half of a sack, adding another tackle for loss and forced a fumble that he recovered in the kind of effort Ohio State has long anticipated but seldom actually seen in a meaningful situation. More work like that on the inside will be critical for the Buckeyes and their rebuilt line moving forward.
WR Philly Brown: The lack of touches for the senior clearly bothered Meyer last week, and he was quick to shoulder the blame when Brown wasn’t involved in the win over Buffalo to start the season. The emphasis to keep him in the mix was clear against the Aztecs, and he and Guiton formed a dangerous combination as Brown scored twice, hauled in six catches and picked up 73 yards while stretching the field a bit more than he did a year ago. No apologies from Meyer will be necessary as the Buckeyes turn their attention to a trip to Cal. Reporter for BuckeyeNationCovers Ohio State sports and recruitingJoined ESPN in 2012
September, 6, 2013 Sep 6 10:00 AM ET COLUMBUS, Ohio — Players and positions to watch as Ohio State goes back to work on Saturday against San Diego State at Ohio Stadium (TV: ABC, 3:30 p.m.). Offensive line
The reviews were just average for the big guys up front in the season opener, and that’s not nearly good enough for a program that expects its offensive line to be the best in the conference. A so-so performance also puts prized quarterback Braxton Miller directly in the line of fire, and after giving up four sacks to Buffalo, the Buckeyes are obviously looking for a significant improvement there. Part of the issue is health, and with center Corey Linsley in the game during the first quarter, the Buckeyes were close to unstoppable with the football. When coach Urban Meyer decided to pull him and rest his surgically-repaired foot, adding another new player in sophomore Jacoby Boren to the mix along with right tackle Taylor Decker certainly appeared to knock things out of whack. That unit will be in the crosshairs of Meyer this week.
The dynamic junior cornerback had to wait an extra week to get back on the field thanks to his one-game suspension, delaying his chance to start improving his NFL draft stock and also forcing the Buckeyes to tap the brakes a bit on their plans for a more aggressive defensive approach. Ohio State has continually stressed that it won’t build its program around one guy, but with Roby out, the amount of press coverage was clearly lower than anticipated and the blitz packages appeared to be scaled back some. Not having safety C.J. Barnett on the field was also a factor with less depth overall in the secondary, but Roby is the centerpiece in the backend, and he’ll no doubt be energized to prove he’s better than ever before.
The job continues to belong to Jordan Hall, but the first true threat to unseat him early in the season is returning to the fold. Rod Smith was yet another expected contributor forced to watch the opener due to suspension, and the projected backup missed out on what could have been a golden opportunity to prove he could be an every-down back while Carlos Hyde serves his own punishment over the first three weeks. Instead Hall turned in the most prolific rushing performance of his career and raised the bar for Smith, who will have to prove himself quickly on special teams before he can get a crack at showing off his physical rushing style — and what Ohio State hopes will be improved ball security.
The receiving version of Philly Brown was barely a factor in the opener, and Meyer was quick to shoulder the blame for the senior’s lack of touches during a two-catch outing against Buffalo. The special teams version showed some flashes of productivity with 44 yards on 4 returns, but he was also shaky fielding the football and, according to assistant Kerry Coombs, had issues with a “high sky and a bright sun.” The Buckeyes need Brown to be a factor both in the passing game, like he was last year as the team’s most targeted receiver. And they can also use the dynamic returner he proved he could be last season while taking a pair of punts back for touchdowns. …
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The search for leadership apparently was a fruitful one. After stressing the need to fill the void left by last season’s respected senior class all offseason, it appears Ohio State is overflowing with players capable of earning a captaincy. The program announced Tuesday that eight different Buckeyes would serve as game captains this season following a team vote on Monday, with a verdict on the official captains for 2013 being put off until the end of the season. ”It’s the first time I’ve done something like this,” Meyer said to the team, according to a school release. “We had eight individuals receive a lot of votes, and all were within 12 votes of each other. ”So, they’ll lead us into each game as captains, and at the end of the year a decision will be made as to who will be the season’s captains.” The group of eight Buckeyes: Left tackle Jack Mewhort, safety C.J. Barnett, safety Christian Bryant, quarterback Kenny Guiton, quarterback Braxton Miller, linebacker Ryan Shazier, center Corey Linsley, and wide receiver Philly Brown.
Ohio State released its first depth chart of the year. Both Bradley Roby and Carlos Hyde are absent because of their suspensions. Chris Fields is listed as the starting H-B. Starting X WR is Philly Brown or Devin Smith.…
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Philly Brown could see the numbers and had watched enough game tape not to need any reminders about which area of his game most needed work. The Ohio State coaching staff wasn’t going to let him off that easy, though. In public through the media last season, coach Urban Meyer was cracking jokes and encouraging him to break a tackle once in a while. When strolling through the practice facility within earshot of Zach Smith in the spring, his position coach made sure to raise his voice enough to reference his reception total compared to a relative lack of yardage and touchdowns. And while the senior receiver suggested there wasn’t all that much criticism coming his way behind closed doors, the message was clear to Brown either way as he prepared for his final season with the Buckeyes. As the most reliable target on the perimeter, the ball was likely to keep coming his way — as long as was able …
Sports Illustrated released their preseason college football rankings and Ohio State ranks #4 behind 1) Alabama 2) Stanford 3) Texas A&M.
Here’s what SI had to say:
Urban Meyer’s teams usually make major strides his second season. (Utah went to …
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The wait is almost over. The season is finally creeping up again, and the annual release of preseason watch lists for the biggest awards in college football confirms it — and helps provide a useful distraction during the final month leading up to the start of training camp. BuckeyeNation will be tracking all the Ohio State players being tracked by the various committees with hardware to give out and will be handicapping their odds of bringing a few trophies back to campus along the way.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The final chapter hasn’t been written yet for Ohio State’s senior class, and a handful of Buckeyes have a chance to author something pretty memorable. This week, we’ll be looking at five players with a chance to leave a legacy with the program with one more productive season, what kind of impact they might have this fall and how they might be viewed down the road. Philly Brown So far: The veteran wideout already has led Ohio State in receiving twice in his career, though it only took 14 catches to do it as a sophomore.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With spring practice in the books and Ohio State heading into its offseason conditioning program, BuckeyeNation is looking at the players who boosted their stock with the program the most during those 15 invaluable workouts. The offense will go first this week, followed by a handful of defenders who will be in line for heavy workloads this fall as well. No. 3: Michael Thomas Who: The sophomore receiver still might not be a finished product and he didn’t leave camp with a claim to a starting job, but there’s little doubt that Thomas is trending upward after a season largely spent on the sideline adapting to the college level and the responsibilities at his position.