Three Things Braxton Must Improve

By Jeff Beck on July 11, 2012 at 6:00p
Walk This WayAll eyes are on you kid. No pressure.

He was never supposed to see the field last season. Clipboard duty, learn the offense, and be Terrelle Pryor’s shadow. Those were Braxton Miller’s projected first season tasks. 

That plan was kicked to the curb the second this news dropped, and what was supposed to be a season as understudy quickly evolved into a gig playing the leading role.

Braxton stepped in and made plays, so the fact he was never supposed to sniff playing time in his first season is forgotten by fans and pundits alike. Number 5 dazzled us to the point of making the preseason Maxwell Award watch list but believe it or not, he’s still a work in progress. If he wants to take the next step, he’s going to have to improve in the following three areas.

1. Throwing Mechanics

At times last season Miller’s throws lacked what the French like to call le spirale (BREAKING that’s not French) fake translation: a spiral. Often his passes would float on him and I couldn’t help but think of this little number after some replays. 

But, for every wobble wobble there were times where he would shake it shake it and step into a throw, releasing a crisp pass. (See what I did there?)

Miller must become more consistent with his mechanics if he wants to take the next step in his development as a gun-slinger. Last year his ability to keep a play alive with his legs spread opposing defenses and left receivers wide open. In said cases, it didn’t matter if throws lacked a tight spiral because he didn’t need to fit them into a small window. Unfortunately, Braxton wont be able to get away with that forever. 

To be fair Tressel was gone so Miller’s only tutelage came from Nick Siciliano who seemed far from up to the task of grooming raw talent. 

Couple that with Miller’s extreme lack of in-game attempts, which are incredibly important in a QB’s growth, and Braxton was caught in a perfect storm of stagnant mechanics development. 

Sick HatThe team needs you to speak up Braxton.

The arrival of Tom Herman and the implementation of a new offense not dead-set on running “Dave” should help Braxton’s mechanics improve dramatically. While I believe his throwing motion is more polished than Pryor’s at the same point in their careers, Miller must put in the time to develop this part of his game.

2. Rapport with A WR

All great QBs have at least one receiver they turn to in pressure situations; the guy who will always be where the QB thought he’d be when he has a defensive lineman breathing down his neck.

Such a relationship is not fostered overnight, but rather during hours of working after practice, tirelessly running and throwing a myriad of routes and patterns.

Last season, whatever the reason (a lack of a serviceable QB coach, a lack of in-game attempts, a young receiving corps without Posey, a run first offense or a very real lack of offensive direction…BOLLMAN!) Braxton never seemed to develop much of a rapport with any of his receivers.

The Spring Game showcased a step in the right direction with the Miller/Michael Thomas connection hooking up for 12 completions and 131 yards, but was the chemistry real or a Bam Childress ruse? The answer remains to be seen.

Whether it’s Thomas or another receiver (there were reports of Miller working out with Stoneburner before his arrest and suspension), Miller must find his go-to guy in the fall.

3. Leadership

As Meyer has shown, he doesn’t shy away from calling it like he sees it. His starting QB is no exception. This from Meyer back in April:

"He's 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.” 

All things considered, Braxton was thrown into an unenviable position last season: a freshman signal caller on an offense rife with upperclassmen. It’s hard to step in and be a vocal leader in that situation and Miller said as much himself:

"Coming in as a freshman, there are guys like you said that are 22-23 years old, they already have their leaders going on. So I was just taking everything in, trying to know what I had to do.”

But those days are gone.  Now Braxton has the caché of nearly a full season under center and it’s evident he’s learning what’s expected of him. This from Offensive Coordinator Tom Herman:

"He's getting better every day (as a leader). Getting better every day," Herman said of Miller. "Still has a long way to go… But he has a great work ethic. He likes to work, he likes to learn, he likes to study. Now it's just getting that quietness maybe out of him and being a little bit more vocal as a leader and saying these guys need you to really be vocal and really pull them with you where you're going and where you want to go."

In order to move forward as a player, Miller has to become more consistent in his mechanics, develop a rapport with a wide receiver and embrace his role as a leader. All of this must be done under the umbrella of a completely retooled offensive system.

It’s a tall task for any QB, but if Miller understands the need to improve in these areas it will lay the groundwork for a successful 2012 campaign and beyond.


Comments Show All Comments

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Going to be incredibly exciting watching a kid of his talent re-introduced to the Buckeye Nation with a brand new spread offense and some play calling that didn't use Woody's playbook from the 60s.

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

klfeck's picture

Don't insult Woody by correlating his play book with Bolman's.



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

Abe Froman's picture

Hopefully we also see growth in the decision making as well as the mechanics.  Even Pryor looked better from his Freshman to his Sophomore year.

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....

buckeye76BHop's picture

IMO Miller will be better than TP and this year will show how much better he actually is.  All three points will be fulfilled.  I saw Braxton in the snow bowl of a state title game and was impressed with him ever since.  Meyer has made it known (just not publicly but trust me he has mentioned) that Miller had his head up his ass and should have been on the head phones and "engaged" in the games even though a loser got the nod.  Not sure Meyer called Bauserman a loser...just added that myself.  B. Miller will be good...just needed more confidence last year and more guidance (not to mention the offense  ran last yr was not suited to his skill set what so ever).  It's not a surprise Nick Siciliano still doesn't have a it???  Even Bolman has a job...i'm sure the offensive linemen he inherits will be horrible by the time he's done with em but he still has a job.  I'm sure he'll never be an offensive coordinator ever again...

"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 

Carolina Buckeye's picture

As far as mechanics go, I don't think it is his throwing motion that is the major issue. Braxton, like most young QBs, had some pretty horrible footwork. Call it nerves, the game being too fast, or maybe him being coached to take off he wasn't comfortable for long in the pocket (he got better towards the end of the year).  Often times he wasn't set when he was throwing (in the pocket) and that caused a lot of the throws that we saw.
Generally, I think his throwing mechanics are pretty solid, much more advanced than Pryor at this point and we never saw Troy this early.  I do think he has a fairly long motion and that needs to be shortened a little but for being "short" for the position he does throw over the top and didn't have too many passes batted down at the line.
Throwing on the run is something he excelled at in HS and he did well as a freshman. I don't want him to rely on this moving forward but I do expect Meyer/Herman to move him around in the pocket by design.
Don't mistake Braxton's reserved nature as him not being ready to lead. I loved his reaction after the TD pass to Smith last year against Wisky. Same reaction after his TD pass to Philly against TTUN. I do think he has some serious strides to make as a leader and that is probably something that is going to take more than just an off season for it to fully develop.

I think Herman is going to be a great position coach for him and he is obviously one of Coach Meyer's favorite players and will get some of his best as a coach, it is inevitable that Urban's fire will rub off on him. I think we'll know the complete results of this task until 2013 or 2014

buckeyedude's picture

I wouldn't call 6'3" short. Even for a B1G qb. Troy Smith is/was 6'1" I believe, and isn't Drew Brees 6'2"?
I think Braxton is going to surprise this year, even with all of the hype. He was a freshmen last year, with no decent coaching, and choas all around the team, for Pete's sake! He definitely has better mechanics and a better frame of mind than TP. Not predicting 12-0...I think MSU or Wisky or both could be losses, but they WILL NOT lose the bowl game this year vs. Michelin!



mr.buckeye's picture

Steve what's up????? Per Mike D. Fedex... I think we can go 12-0 If we have good QB play and Our defense is nasty...;)  with all the new additions....:)

Carolina Buckeye's picture

I think Braxton is getting the benefit of the tOSU media guide doubt when they list him at 6'2" but even then, he certainly is not 6'3"
and I wasn't at all saying his height was an issue. I said he has an over the top delivery that negates any shortcomings by his height. If he had the same throwing motion as Pryor, his height could be a major issue.

Crimson's picture

Brees is short, 6'0".  I don't think he has a lot of passes batted, but he's also got a great line.

SLVRBLLTS's picture

Yeah it's weird. I'm barely (maybe not even) 5'10, and when I met Troy Smith we were directly eye to eye. It almost felt like I was taller then him. So when I saw he was listed as 6'1 I knew something was up. They must measure these guys in cleats on concrete or something.

"Because we couldn't go for three"

Ohiothomas1's picture

Honestly, I see Braxton as a leader by show. He seems like he is more of the quiet guy, and that's just who he is. He's not the Tebow type. If he tries to act like it, it would all sound forced and fake. He could still get more vocal, but he's never gonna be the Tebow type that really pours all his energy through his vocals and yelling at all his teammates to "try harder" or "keep fightin".
I have no idea what I'm spouting, really, so don't hold me for this.

45buckshot's picture

did you steal this title from the Bleacher report? don't go there man... those articles suck. this is not the standard i've come to expect from 11w... next will there be an article "4 things the buckeyes need to improve"? or "top 5 recruiting needs for osu"? 
don't go for the low-hanging fruit... you don't have to know anything about football to know BM needs to 1. throw well 2. hit passes 3. win to be successful. 
a better article would be something BM could do to improve his mechanics... or explain techniques BM and a wr could do to improve their rapport... or question whether BM needs to be a vocal leader or not to be successful at tOSU (i don't think so, it's just something UM3 likes from his QBs). 
etc etc etc

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
—G.K. Chesterton

flipbuckeye's picture

This was enlightening. 11W should hire you.

yankeescum's picture

I personally think that Miller has one of the quickest releases I have seen in a kid that young.  I think that Pryor's arm was a little stronger, and his hands gigantic, and we didn't see as much of the wounded duck in his throw even with his subpar throwing mechanics.  
I think that a lot of us are a little quick to discredit Pryor, the guy was fantastic on the field, if a little south of imperfect off of it.  
Miller's footwork, and grip on the ball need more work than his actual throwing motion (in my own, possibly Nick Sicilianoesque coaching opinion), which I am a fan of.

bassplayer7770's picture

I do enjoy seeing tweets from our receivers saying Braxton is working hard this Summer.  I believe the last tweet I saw was from Devin Smith.

Rooster Buckburn's picture

Braxton typically threw beautiful spirals in high school, but seemed to regress in that department during last season. I think I'll put that on coaching.