Braxton Miller: A Different Perspective
Braxton Miller played a big role in Ohio State’s victory yesterday against the University at Buffalo, propelling the Buckeyes to a 1-0 start after their 40-20 win over the Bulls. As a student broadcaster for Scarlet and Gray Sports Radio, I had the opportunity to watch the game from the camera deck at Ohio Stadium and I was able to watch the game from a unique perspective. Obviously, my eyes were on Braxton Miller and his development.
The first thing I want to note about Braxton Miller is that he will not win the Heisman Trophy. Miller is certainly talented enough and will likely be a finalist for the trophy, but the award is largely statistical and Miller will not be able to put up the necessary numbers. In Miller’s first full year as a starter, Braxton threw for 2039 yards while completing 58.3% of his passes. He completed 68% Saturday, a good number, but he only threw for 178 yards. You can see stats of all the heisman winners here. Miller’s numbers simply will not stack up. You may argue that his rushing stats will make up for his lack of gaudy passing statistics. Last year Miller ran for 1271 yards and 13 touchdowns. Compare that to Manziel and Newton; both of those QB’s picked up over 1400 yards on the ground. Meyer has made it clear that he does not want Miller to subject himself to hits and Miller will not be running as much as a results. From a statistical standpoint, Miller will not have enough to win the Heisman.
Secondly, Braxton Miller’s pocket presence has seemingly come from nowhere. Several times yesterday, Buffalo’s defense dropped into a max zone and dared Miller to run/throw. Miller sat in the pocket with incredible patience and got the ball off to his playmakers on offense. Miller’s accuracy was a bit off at times, although, missing a wide open Devin Smith, hanging backup running back Ezekiel Elliot out to dry, and leading Philly Brown a bit too far on two occasions. I may be a bit picky about his throws, but he has to make these throws if this team wants to compete for a title. Miller, also, when evading a pass rush, seemed content on turning around and getting back behind his blockers while looking down field, a distinct difference from last year.
Miller was able to get the ball to a ton of playmakers. No Buckeye player had more than 3 receptions for the Buckeyes. Devin Smith and Chris Fields each had 3 grabs, and combined for 3 touchdowns. Philly had two catches, both picking up first downs. Brown was easily the best route runner in yesterday’s game for the Buckeyes offense. Evan Spencer looked good picking up 2 grabs. Heuerman had 2 catches from the tight end spot. Hall (three catches) and Wilson (1 catch, 18 yards) made some plays in the passing game out of the backfield. Miller still has more weapons at his disposal in Nick Vannett, Ezekiel Elliott, Warren Ball, Jalin Marshall, and suspended running backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith.
Braxton, overall, made big plays for Ohio State. Miller spread the ball around, worked a perfect read-option game with Jordan Hall, and made those “wow plays” with his legs. Braxton did take a few hits and was knocked out of the game twice, but he certainly did a better job of avoiding hits and getting out of bounds. Look for Miller to take even more strides next week against the Aztecs.