Miller's Crossing

By Johnny Ginter on April 23, 2012 at 1:00p
52 Comments
Looking downfield

Braxton Miller is a soft spoken 19 year old sophomore from Huber Heights who has been tasked with leading the Ohio State football team out from the muck and mire that was the mediocrity of the 2011 season, and bring them to the eventual promised land of a national championship. Which really shouldn't be that big of a deal, right? He works out, throws the ball some, goes undefeated, passes for 3500 yards, runs for another 1000, wins the first of three Heisman awards, and then once OSU returns from the post season ban, wins back to back national titles.

Just like every OSU quarterback, his destiny has been planned out by a group of people who mostly haven't had to deal with 300 pound hippo-human hybrids trying to kill them while they attempt to do their job, and if he comes up short of that destiny, that same group of people will sit in judgment of him forever as they post dumb movie puns to the internet.

But that's part of the deal as an Ohio State QB. See, the truth of the matter is, we should expect extraordinary things from extraordinary people. Within reason, of course (I'm not going to become apoplectic if Braxton Miller doesn't master the nine chakras or ends up throwing a couple of picks against Nebraska), but Ohio State fans want to see growth. They want to see a team leader who has shaken off the cobwebs of last year and is ready to step up his game.

And that seems to be what Urban Meyer wants, too.

"[Braxton is] an average leader right now," Meyer said. "We need to make him a great leader. You have to raise the level of play of those around you. This summer, he has to do it. He hasn't done it to this point. He's been at Ohio State for a little over a year, and his leadership qualities are not where they need to be.

"I think he will get there, because he's sharp, he's smart and he's a competitor."

During the Spring Game this past weekend, I think all of the 60 thousand fans and their 20 thousand or so imaginary college football loving friends assembled saw a little of what Meyer has been talking about. But to really know how far it seems Miller has progressed in such a short period of time, it's important to look back at the 2011 season, and see just exactly who was talking the field at QB for OSU.

You would think that a hot young player with a wide ranging skillset such as Braxton Miller has would flourish under the tutelage of probable quarterbacking genius Nick Siciliano and offensive mastermind Jim Bollman, and at times last year you would've been correct (although some might say that much of that success is attributed to Miller's own freakish athleticism rather than actual coaching, but that is cynicism talking, sir/ma'am, and I will have none of it!).

Against Michigan, albeit in a losing effort, he was generally very good, throwing for 235 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 100 yards on the ground. Against Florida in the Gator Bowl, he completed over 75% of his passes, threw for two TDs, and didn't have an interception. Also we lost that game. And Braxton first started to show flashes against Nebraska, as he was 5 for 8 for 95 yards, a touchdown, and 91 yards on the ground before going down with an ankle sprain in the 3rd quarter, which is a weird coincidence because it feels like OSU started to watch that game slip away from them at around that time.

To be fair, it wasn't just in loses that Braxton decided to shine. He had 99 yards on the ground against Wisconsin, and though roughly half of his 89 yards through the air came by way of one ridiculous across his body huck downfield, that tomato can of a heave ended up winning the game.

The bigger picture wasn't as rosy, although that might be a result of how Bollman and company decided to gameplan for him. Against Illinois, Braxton completed one lonely, singular pass for 17 yards, rushed for 34, and pretty much made me want to tear my hair out for the better part of three hours. At home versus Michigan State, he completed 5 passes and recreated a Benny Hill musical number in the backfield with super angry linebackers replacing sexy ladies in bikinis.

Urban Meyer recognized that this needed to change. Not just the Benny Hill part, but the idea that Braxton Miller was being utilized as a tool rather than a leader. Last year the coaches seemed reluctant to truly put the team on Miller's back and go ride or die; not a horrible plan when you've supposedly got a game changing back in Boom Herron waiting in the wings, but as he started to offer the team diminishing returns as the season went on, a similar uptake in responsibility was never given to the young QB.

Well, that ends as of now, and there are two things playing in Urban's favor right now wtih regards to his young protege: it's been repeated ad nauseam by now, but anyone watching the Spring Game on Saturday could see that Braxton Miller truly is perfectly suited for Meyer's offense. Having him throw on the run, short passes to Ent-like TEs, the possibility of triple options... everything Meyer has in his offensive cookbook uses whatever ingredients Braxton brings to the table. 24 for 31 and 258 yards may not become the norm next year, but at least we now know that it's within the realm of possibility.

The second thing is time. The goal for every OSU team is a national championship, but of course this is going to be the one season where not even the die-hardiest, Bellisari-believingest, Lydell-hopingest fan can expect that. So what's left is time, and opportunities. Meyer now has an entire season to mold Braxton into the quarterback that he wants him to be; not just a consistently good football player but a leader and someone who's shoulders you can rest the entire team on, in a way the team never did last year.

Because frankly, now is the time to take chances and see exactly what Braxton Miller is capable of. There's really no reason for Meyer not to stretch Miller's boundaries, turn him into Peyton one game and Vick the next, all the while trying to bring out his inner Patton. In the game of relatively low stakes poker that is the 2012 season, you bet the house.

52 Comments

Comments

Big Swede's picture

What's the rumpus?

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Was in the neighborhood and feeling a little daffy

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Big Swede's picture

Tell Johnny he's not God on the throne, he's just a cheap basement blogger with more hair tonic than brains. 

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

You ain't got a license to kill bookies and today I ain't sellin' any. So take your flunky and dangle

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Big Swede's picture

Well if I was a horse, I'd be down on my fetlocks praying you don't bet on me.

BuckeyeVet's picture

I met Johnny Saturday night & you may be partially right. He had a fine head of hair, so maybe that hair tonic is working. But he did mention that he has moved out of his mother's basement and is now upstairs at the kitchen table doing his writing. That's a definate step up in the world, and you can see it.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

 

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

The boss is still an artist with the Thompson

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Johnny Ginter's picture

welp this is all amazing

Big Swede's picture

Thanks for not giving us the high hat.

William's picture

"Ent-like TEs" Great line. Also Miller is a freshman.

hodge's picture

Hopefully those "Ent-like TEs" can make like Tolkien and destroy that Isengard that is Ann Arbor.

Nutbuck1959's picture

Love the LOTR zingers.

Squirrel Master's picture

Miller is a sophomore!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

BuckeyeNation's picture

Haha... that was my first thought on Williams post to Squirrel, but "technically"... he's still a freshman!

Squirrel Master's picture

technically how, school wise? As far as eligibilty goes, he is a sophomore! 1 down, 3 to go!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

William's picture

You can look at it like that, I guess. Academically he may actually be a Sophomore since he enrolled so early. He hasn't started his second season, so to me he is still a Freshman. 

Seth4Bucks's picture

Then how do you categorize all the freshmen who just arrived? Is this currently a team without any seniors?

pcon258's picture

i cannot wait to see how braxton progresses this year. i mean, the way he was playing against nebraska was magical. imagine if he was allowed to play like that every game and not just every now and again? i felt like the play calling stopped him from getting into a rhythm, which i think hurt him almost as much as lack of qb coaching, and running the dave every play. It will be awesome to see him do well next year. 

 

also, i love all this new content posted today, i feel like i need to check back every hour, and every time theres a new article. keep it up haha!

carence's picture

PCON258, If the great people at 11W would create an app with push notifications, you wouldn't have to check back every hour! :)

I am just kidding, readers of the site. No little snide comments needed! 

Jason Priestas's picture

Four new writers. Get ready for your new content-overloading reality.

And soon we'll have a beat writer.

carence's picture

@Jason, Oh we are more than ready...for an iPhone app! :)

Jason Priestas's picture

Will you settle for a Zune app?

pcon258's picture

if this actually happened, it might be the incentive i need to finally jump into the whole smartphone era. But yea, with a beat writer, in addition to three new writers (because of losing DJ), this site is gona get pretty insane pretty quickly

flipbuckeye's picture

It wasn't just DJ. Luke, Elika, and Jeremy all moved on the past few months as well.

BritishBuckeye's picture

best site for college football I've seen....great news, good reads, solid comments.

Buckeye414's picture

Windows phone is where it's at.  Don't knock it till you've tried it.

-Go Bucks!

BucksfanXC's picture

I've tried it, and I will knock it. Windows phones are the worst.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

When will an app be produced for my Razr?

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

SPreston2001's picture

Windows phones do suck lol. Im Android all the way...

RBuck's picture

Does that mean we might see some weekend off-season articles? Xfingers.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

VestedInterest's picture

I'm a little skeptical that Brax has the "vocal" component of leadership. I've always looked at leadership as having two components, leading by example on the field and the "rah rah" part on the sidelines (off the field not taken for granted but assumed as a given). I've not seen any flashes of the latter, just seems too quiet and reserved to be able to incorporate that aspect effectively. Perhaps with time and comfort he'll be able to do so but I have doubts, and I don't think it hurts us.

Would love to see a little passion and fire out of the QB position, hope it can become a reality.

Alhan's picture

Love the title reference.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100150/

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

TommyWayne's picture

 Lydell-hopingest

Thanks for that memory.  *shudders*

cplunk's picture

Just for the record, without Lydell Ross the Holy Buckeye play is a sack and we don't win the championship in 2002. Watch the play. Look for the block.

Say what you will about Lydell, but he did his job on that play and it. was. huge.

BrewstersMillions's picture

Was the Diana Ross reference really necessary dudes? He's the clear cut starting RB on my 'All Time Worst" OSU team. Boy was he something...

Could be worse, he could have counter fitted strip club coupons...

Oh wait.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would more obvious.

BuckeyeLurker0509's picture

I lol'd @ "Bellisari-believingest, Lydell-hopingest.."

Great job as usual.

buckeye76BHop's picture

Braxton will do just fine...I'm not sure it's in his personality to be a big time leader.  Just seems so quiet natured and leads by example I guess.  Hopefully that will change in order to raise the level of play around him.  As far as his athletic abilities in this style of offense...sky's the limit.  He and Kenny seemed to have zip on the ball besides a few and made relatively good decisions with the ball in a new uptempo style of offense.  Always room for improvement and I'm pretty sure we'll see just that;-)   

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

BenArazi4's picture

 

Braxton as of now is soft.  Great player, but soft.  I don't buy that its personality, its shyness.  He's too nice.  I know because I've seen plenty of kids like that.  I myself was like that and my dad was constantly yelling at me for not being vocal when I played sports even though I saw things others didn't.  Braxton has to realize that its ok to yell at his teammates because he already has that respect and because they will listen but more importantly because he has that right as the quarterback.  Its ok to ask someone "what the eff just happened" and get in their face a little bit.  That's a leader, I never thought I would do the stuff I do now or talk to the way I talk to people now 5 years ago because I was just too nice.  It comes with confidence and a little bit of reshaping your attitude.  Get mean Braxton

 

 

 

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

People don't need to yell to be a leader - look no farther than Craig Krenzel.  He lead by his ice cold calmness and attitude and that will probably be the leader Braxton will be.  I suggest you watch the pregame joust with Kenny before calling Braxton soft! 

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

BenArazi4's picture

 

Kenny won that, its a football drill (leverage) not a judo throwing contest.  I might agree a little about Krenzel but he directed people and people listened because he was very smart.  You also have to remember these are 18 year old kids, they want to hit someone, they want to lay some wood sometimes you just gotta bring it out of them.  He didnt seem too excited while little Boren was trying to pump him up.    Braxton needs to start directing people I haven't seen that of him yet.  You don't necessarily have to yell but you have to be willing to get in your teammates faces and then tap them on the helmet afterwards.  Great leaders are usually vocal and fearless and you know that their best interest is in the team, not themselves like Michael Jordan, Tim Tebow, Ray Lewis, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, etc  I think thats what coach wants out of him because he knows Braxton sees things others dont and he wants him to be a second coach out there on the field.

 

 

 

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

You've contradicted yourself in your post - you chastise the kid for being soft and having no leadership skills, then say he has to be willing to yell at his teammates, then when I call you out on it, you're saying he doesn't have to yell but be willing to get in his players faces. Bullshit!!!  Boom Herron was a leader of the Buckeyes and didn't do any of that!  He did it by example!!  I don't want my QB all fired up and jumping all over the place, throwing tantrums, and getting in the faces of his teammates.  If you're an emotional QB subject to being pumped up - you're going to make mistakes.  I want a calm and confident QB - not some lunatic yelling at his players all the time.

This is a tough kid that took some big time hits last year and will again so your comment that he is soft is bullshit!  The kid was a freshman last year walking into one of the elite programs in college football under a horrid circumstances and stood tall and made last season a little less nightmarish.  As a freshman, you're trying to figure out what you're suppose to do so it's a bit difficult to be a great leader right out of the box.  I'm sure that as a freshman star of an elite program under dire circumstance, you handled it much better than Braxton and have earned the right to trash a 17 year old kid.  Me, I'm willing to give the kid a f@#$ing break and get behind him instead of cutting him down from the armchair QB perspective.

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

buckeyedude's picture

It seems to me this "QB leader thing" is a double-edged sword.

Would you rather have a freakishly athletic, cocky, tattooed up, foot-in-the-mouth leader QB, or a freakishly athletic, quiet, workman like attitude, lead-by-example, QB?

Where are all of the fans that were complaining about TP's mouth and attitude?

In either case though, I think under the previous regime, both QB were constantly second guessing themselves. That is not good for a QB.

 

 

Johnny Ginter's picture

there are multiple ways to lead; i agree that thinking QBs have to be the constant rah rah guy who screams at people and whatnot to get things done is BS, and braxton can be very successful being just who he is.

with that said, i think urban was more concerned about the lack of involvement that miller showed last year. i couldn't find the quote, but he mentioned the headphone thing a lot of OSU fans were grousing about, and i think that's indicative of what meyer expects from miller. not a shouty bully or a peppy motivator, but someone who is involved with the team.

as a side note, and i'll say this as someone who played competitive sports for years and years and years, i always respected the quiet guys who led by example more than i did the players who thought they were michael jordan junior. in a team sport like football, it's really difficult to have that persona unless you're THAT much better than the rest of your team and are putting them on your back every single game (what's funny is that braxton actually was doing that at wayne, but that's obviously not the case at OSU)

BenArazi4's picture

 

 

Both fierce and cocky but humble.  The guys already know what kind of guy Braxton is.. a good kid and they know there is no bad intention if he gets on someone.  Ideally you would like fierce but humble, sometimes you don't get that, sometimes you do aka Tebow.  Quiet is never good for QB because communication is key in everything not just sports.  If Braxton is quiet, then Michael Thomas doesn't know where to run when Braxton is scrambling to the left for example.  This is why Braxton would let him know "hey I'm good throwing deep/left/right when I'm scrambling to the left."  If he was quiet, his receivers wouldnt know little things like that, that could potentially make a huge difference. Communication is key my friend.  Our QB is our leader going into war, ideal in my opinion would be fierce.

 

 

 

Johnny Ginter's picture

i think comparing sports to war is pretty silly, honestly, but ulysses s grant was a slight, somber, and painfully shy man who cried after battles and refused to eat anything but extremely well done meat because the idea of blood on his plate sickened him. and he was one of the greatest generals in US history.

point is, i don't care how someone gets it done or what their personality is. if they're talented, involved, and people will follow them, then they can lead.

BenArazi4's picture

 

It was an analogy, however it is football, our coach always hyped our defense up before a game, he wanted us to lay some wood and hit anyone coming across the middle, our defense was stout to say the least.  That is all fine and dandy but that turnout is a very small percentage.  If we had a general who didn't instruct his soldiers or instructed them passively in war, that would probably be an ugly scene in this day and age specifically.  Tell me have you ever seen a general or a sergeant who wasn't fierce and willing to tell his soldiers what to do?  Very hard for someone to be quiet and a good leader at the same time because there is no communication.  For that fact alone, its hard.  Would your boss be your boss if he didn't tell you what to do?  Its very similar here.  Braxton is the boss of the offense on the field so he should act like it.  When everyone does exactly what they're supposed to do and continues doing it, then leadership can cease.  Communication is the key to success.  How you do it depends on the circumstance of course but this is a game of men, its no soft sport.  Leave the passive communication for office jobs and bankers cause its appropriate there.

 

 

 

BenArazi4's picture

Just think of the best leaders in sports the past few years.

NFL is easily Ray Lewis or Peyton Manning

CFB the past 5 years-Easily, easily Tim Tebow

NBA-Jordan greatest leader ever.

 

Just an analogy but have you seen movies like the Gladiator, the Patriot, Braveheart, etc.

Its all psychology my friend, I never said you have to be a dbag about it, I personally dont like those guys but with admiration and honor commanding someone is perceived as courage and bravery subconsciously.  Im sure UFM knows what I am talking about, its the psychology behind it ;)

 

 

 

Johnny Ginter's picture

i dunno man, all i'm saying is that you find leaders in all shapes and sizes and personality types. for every michael jordan you cite i can give you a wayne gretzky, and for every patton you give me i can give you an eisenhower or omar bradley. braxton doesn't have to yell and shout, he just has to be involved with his teammates and be their bellweather