Trust the Man

By Kyle Rowland on October 1, 2012 at 10:00a
49 Comments

Trust.

It’s a quality that’s needed in any relationship. Without trust, failure is imminent.

Family.

There is no secret to the amount of Urban Meyer’s success in 10 head coaching seasons, split between Bowling Green, Utah and Florida. Part of it has come from the level of trust he’s instilled in his quarterbacks.

The first four games of the Urban Meyer-Braxton Miller partnership resulted in the typical gaudy stats Meyer-coached quarterbacks have produced. There have been high rushing totals, clutch passes and willing a team to victory.

Last week another layer was peeled back in Meyer and Miller’s evolving game-day relationship. The head coach allowed his quarterback to make decisions at the line of scrimmage and change plays if need be.

In a hostile road environment on Saturday, though, Miller became a bit unnerved at times. He was no longer in Kansas – or Ohio Stadium, the site of the Buckeyes’ first four games. And it wasn’t a creampuff non-conference opponent across the way. No, the venue was Spartan Stadium and the opponent was Michigan State, owner of the Big Ten’s top-ranked defense.

There were three turnovers, all by Miller and all in Michigan State territory that could have derailed a promising season. Turnovers are a game killer in Meyer’s “Plan to Win.” They, too, can cause friction in the coach-player relationship. But Meyer knows what he has in Miller.

Trailing 13-10 late in the third quarter, there was no one else Meyer would have wanted with the ball in his hands. And there was no one else Miller would have wanted to throw the ball to. He connected with Devin Smith on a 63-yard touchdown pass that provided the Buckeyes with a 17-16 win in both teams’ conference opener.

“He's one of my favorite receivers,” Miller said of Smith, the recipient of three game-winning catches in the past 11 games. “I’m going to always throw to him.”

The late-game heroics – something that has become a ritual with Miller and Smith – energized Miller, causing a postgame celebration on the field that lasted for several minutes. But once he made his way to the locker room it was all ice and rubdowns. In a game that saw a season’s worth of big hits, Miller took the brunt of several collisions, to the point he had to leave the game for a brief period of time.

“A gutsy effort by our quarterback,” Meyer said. “He had some miscues but just the toughness – he’s banged up. He’s banged up, and he just kept coming back.”

The third Miller-to-Smith game winner. 

Three turnovers are no way to pump up a Heisman Trophy campaign. But what if it’s offset by 315 all-purpose yards and yet another game-winning touchdown pass?

“The kid played tough,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. “He played hard, he put the team on his back. We can fix the turnovers, but the attitude and effort and ability that he has can’t be taught.”

Miller completed 16 of 23 passes for 179 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He added 136 rushing yards on 23 carries, an average of nearly six yards per touch. His total rushing yardage was 89 more than Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell, who entered Saturday’s marquee matchup as the nation’s third-leading rusher.

"No doubt he's the fuel in our engine," offensive coordinator Tom Herman said of Miller.

He started the game off with a full tank, finding a hole in the Michigan State defense and running for 20 yards on the game’s first play. Seven plays later – two Miller rushes for 14 more yards – Ohio State led, 7-0.

The Buckeyes sent a message on the first series that the 2012 Ohio State-Michigan State game would play out far different than the 2011 affair. That day Ohio State had 35 rushing yards on 39 carries in a 10-7 loss. On Saturday, Miller had 54 yards after one quarter.

“Number five changed the game,” Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said.

Said Spartan linebacker Chris Norman: “He’s very elusive. Braxton Miller is a dynamic talent. It was a really hard offense to defend. The guy can make plays. It was really frustrating at times, but you've got to roll with the punches.”

Twice before halftime, with Ohio State leading 7-3, it had an opportunity to extend its lead. That’s when Miller’s turnovers came into play.

“Braxton, Braxton and Braxton,” Meyer said after the game. “I gotta go visit with Braxton. Remember that family member? He’s not in the family anymore.”

It was said tongue-in-cheek, but the point is not hollow: turning the ball over will eventually lead to a loss.

In a year when the Big Ten has become a national punching bag – Ohio State and Northwestern are the only remaining undefeated teams in the league – Miller has provided excitement to an otherwise drab style of play in the antiquated conference. Denard Robinson, the Big Ten’s most visible player, turned in two of the worst performances of his career in primetime games against Alabama and Notre Dame.

Miller gave the MSU defense fits all day long. 

The conference’s best team and player could be Ohio State and Miller, despite a postseason ban for the Buckeyes. Meyer has coached a No. 1 overall draft pick and Heisman winner. Still, he pronounced Miller the most dynamic player he’s ever coached – before the season even started. With the praise came lofty expectations, but Miller has lived up to the hype with ease.

He is now the 13th-best rusher in the country, producing 577 yards and seven touchdowns on 90 carries. Miller is also completing a higher percentage of his passes – nearly 63 percent for 933 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. Through five games, Miller is responsible for 1,510 yards and 15 touchdowns. Those totals have come on 211 plays. In his first five starts of 2011, Miler accounted for 670 yards of offense and seven touchdowns.

Robinson has experienced what comes with being a top dual-threat quarterback: soreness. Miller carried the ball 23 times against Michigan State, that coming on top of 17 versus Miami (Ohio) and 27 against Central Florida.

“You’ve got to forget about it,” Miller said. “It’s football, things happen.”

Meyer has said 12-15 carries per game is the target number for Miller. It’s rarely been accomplished and looks like it won’t be paid much attention to this season. It’s become necessary to have Miller run his way to victory in multiple games.

The spread offense has greatly complemented Miller’s unique skillset. Meyer’s M.O. is putting players in a position to succeed and blending the offense around their best attributes. Opposing defenses also have helped Miller. He has shown that he can create plays when he’s flushed out of the pocket.

The unsung heroes from Miller’s impressive numbers are the Ohio State offensive line. They showed up en masse on Saturday to help their quarterback – and running backs. Reid Fragel took on defensive end William Gholson and rarely let the All-American candidate into the backfield.

One year removed from historic offensive ineptitude against the Spartans, the two main culprits – Miller and the O-Line – hushed their nemesis: the Michigan State defense.

“I think it was just an attitude thing and a revamped program,” center Corey Linsley, the guy who snaps the ball to Miller, said. “As Coach Meyer puts it, ‘If you get kicked enough times, you are going to respond eventually.’ That was us today. I am proud of our guys.”

49 Comments

Comments

causeicouldntgo43's picture

We now know what kind of team we have now.........a pretty damn good one!

buck-I.8's picture

there's a lot of sugar in that kool aid, man

onetwentyeight's picture

Hey, it's a relative statement that's true in the context of who we have left to play. It's not like we're going into Death Valley next week or have to line up against Bama. 

buck-I.8's picture

Ok, so we're going up against a team this week with a bruising runner, and decent pass game. We gave up a touchdown last game purely due to poor tackling, and still have issues in the secondary. Compared to Nebraska, I won't say they're better than we are, but to say we're a "damn good team" is a bit unrealistic, even subjectively.

Shaun OSU's picture

@BuckI.8
I disagree. Are we great? No, I wouldn't say great. Are we pretty good? I would say, yes, definitely.
We beat what is probably at least the second best other team in the B1G (yes, yes, the B1G is down but we don't get a bowl game so that's all we will get to compare to this year) on their home field, and the game wasn't as close as the score, since we mostly dictacted the game on all sides of the ball besides our 3 turnovers.
Our team is just starting to get better, and we already look like either the best or one of the top 2 teams in the conference. That is "pretty good" by my definition.
You are saying that even though you would put us as better than Nebraska, we don't deserve to be called a good team? What metric do they need to achieve to be considered good?

buck-I.8's picture

"At least the second best team? UM outplayed ND for a whole game and lost on the scorecard due to bad playcalls and turnovers. MSU got dominated from start to finish. Just transitively, that puts them at #3 and they haven't played Wisconsin, Nebraska, Purdue, or NW. 
Or if you wanted to go by the polls, they start at #4. 
Either way, we played a sloppy game against a mediocre team in a mediocre conference in a down year. There were bright spots (run D, Braxton's legs, Smith TD pass), but there were also things that made us all cringe (tackling(!), turnovers, pass D). 
It's a good team, they find ways to win. Are they "pretty good"? Probably, that's fairly subjective. But "damn good" implies that it's an all around solid team that goes out there and executes what they need to win, and they're not there. They don't play a "damn good" team this year, but if they did, it wouldn't be pretty

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Maybe I'm forgetting a few other examples, but I don't recall poor tackling being an issue on any other play besides the Mumphrey TD. Granted, the Buckeyes missed about five tackles on that one play, but no defense ever goes through an entire game making every tackle.
Also, besides the obvious "damn good" teams - Bama, Oregon, FSU, LSU - against which other teams would it not be pretty if the Buckeyes played them?

btalbert25's picture

Since when do we look at things transitively though to rank teams.  I remember when people kept saying Oregon was going to crush the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl simply because Ohio State lost to Purdue and USC and Oregon beat those two teams. 
Maybe MSU is number 3 or 4 maybe they beat all the teams you mentioned.  One thing is for sure, when all is said and done it really won't matter how one team played Notre Dame differently than the other.
MSU isn't a national power, but along with Nebraska they are probably the best the B1G has to offer. 

btalbert25's picture

I guess it depends on what your definition of damn good is.  Compared to lastyear, absolutely this team is.  Compared to Alabama, ehh not so much.  To me it's been a damn good surprise.  I thought they would of lost one non conference game, MSU, and probably Nebraska with one other loss along the way.  Now I don't see 4 losses as a posibility at all really. 

hodge's picture

Punctuation solves everything.
Observe:

We now know what kind of team we have now.........a pretty damn good one?

tennbuckeye19's picture

Unless he's drinking this stuff:

Run_Fido_Run's picture

No, because the Cherry Kool-Aid character in the above picture is obviously a Nebraska fan. That jolly 'Husker is welcoming us to his tailgate with open arms. "Welcome to Lincoln, y'all! Please sit down and share some of our tailgate food . . . we have Seven Layer Salad, double-decker prime rib sandwiches, and marshmellow surprise! We can't wait to watch your fine football team in the stadium today . . ." 

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

I always picture Nebraksa as more of a fruit punch koolaid man, myself...

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

Abe Froman's picture

Maybe the best of the B1G, but then that is like being the skinniest fat kid.  

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....

cplunk's picture

Whenever somebody says something is all about trust I think of Team America: World Police.
"This isn't about sex, Gary. It's about trust."

grcunning's picture

I must have heard a hundred times how injury prone Braxton is. That's not at all what I saw. That kid is a warrior.

osu07asu10's picture

He may be a warrior but there is no denying he gets dinged. It was great to see how quickly Kenny G reacted. We're going to need Guiton again at some point this season and it gives me comfort knowing he can handle it

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

Tim's picture

Yeah it was good to see Kenny immediately ready to get in the game.  I was surprised how effectively we moved the ball with him in -- MSU had to know we weren't going to pass the ball that deep in their territory and yet we ran right through them.  Guiton had a nice pitch while he was getting hit that resulted in a big gain.

MediBuck's picture

Indeed. That pitch made my eyes water as I realized Coach Urb's system would bail us out if our QB went down. Kenny G showed tremendous poise and leadership and seemed completely in control of that offense on that drive.

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

William's picture

All of his injuries have been freak stuff. I mean getting thrown into an exercise bike? How does that make him injury prone? That field at Nebraska was terrible last year, Jared Crick was injured in that game too, does that make him injury prone? The second time Miller had to leave (MSU) was freakish as well, he landed and jammed his knee, just bad luck there. It's not like he's freaking Robin van Persie and is tearing his achilles/calf for 7 seasons straight. 

osu07asu10's picture

Braxton missed significant time in HS as a sophmore, junior, and senior. He has yet to miss time in college however, so you are right.

I don't think he is injury prone to the point where he is going to miss games, but he is 6'1" 215 lbs and like you stated, he is not built to take the abuse of 20-25 hits a game, where as someone like Pryor stature or Tebow may be able to.

Also, jamming your knee on a non-contact play would in my book qualify as injury prone, not bad luck. That is what injury prone is.

Generally, I don't think Braxton is injury prone, I think he runs hard and I think he is a warrior but he is not built to take the abuse and I do think we'll see over the course of this season and the next two, he will wear down and get dinged up like we have seen with smaller qbs in the spread in the past, such as Denard and Pat White.

"They don't know what they don't know." - Coach Mick

ih8rolltyde's picture

Not trying to be a hater, but Braxton is much bigger and more physical than Denard or Pat White.
6'2ish 220ish (we all know measurables are fudged until the combine) is not a small dude.
Just for reference, Jon Jones has to weigh-in, the day before he fights, at 205 to fight light heavyweight in the UFC. Dude is a monster. Oh, but they cut weight? Anderson Silva walks around at about 205 and cuts to 185 to defend his middleweight crown. Obviously apples and oranges, but Braxton Miller is not slight in physical stature.
I don't like seeing him take 10 big shots a game; however, just because dude is lightning quick does not put him in a category w/ Denard or Pat White (6 flat, 197 at combine)

****igan smells like old water that hot dogs were boiled in.  FACT

btalbert25's picture

I'd say he gets dinged about as much as anyone who runs the ball 20 times per game.  RB's often get up limping or sit a play or 2 out in a game because of a hard hit.  I'm not saying it's good for the QB to be taking that kind of abuse, but I don't think it says anything about how prone to injury Braxton is as much as it says, he's taking the kind of abuse that a feature RB would normally take in a game. 

FROMTHE18's picture

whole new kind of animal coming in nebraska though, not selling them short at all.

chitown buckeye's picture

I thought I saw improvement in his running vs MSU from a standpoint of not taking major hits. I noticed him slightly spinning, or going out of bounds. He looks like he is doing more to not take the big hits and not lowering a shoulder for the sake of one yard. I think this will be key to him staying healthy throughout the season. This was the game I was really worried about him getting an injury. An aggressive defense and as we saw a dirty playing defense at times.  Him getting out of East Lansinig with a few dings maybe a greater victory then the win itself. The boy can flat out play! He is going to be something to watch when everything with this offense becomes second nature to him.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

GoBucks713's picture

Braxton is a decent QB, but an unbelievable athlete. But the way this guy plays with wreckless abandon sometimes, makes me really think about the fact that its inevitible Kenny G is going to have the ball in his hands in a crucial moment, much like the Sparty game at the goal line. And to be honest, it doesn't bother me. The dude is a gamer. I'm glad we don't have Bauserbeards back there.

-The Aristocrats!

zachofaltrades's picture

Can we start formulating a plan on how to deflect the inevitable Braxton/Urban "relationship" comments similar to the ones Florida had to deal with during the Tebow era? Living in Orlando, I know I'm going to get grief for this.
Personally, I love the man hug and the family atmosphere it promotes.

MediBuck's picture

I'll admit I was a hater watching Urban and Tebow nuzzle, but seeing my own coach do it with my team's QB made me all warm and fuzzy inside. If Coach Urb was one giant fluffy teddy bear all the time, it'd creep me out a little, but since I know he's a cold-blooded task-master the other 6 days of the week, it actually melts my heart a little.

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

Ahh Saturday's picture

MSU was likely the best D the Buckeyes will face all year and by a comfortable margin.  Nebraska will likely present the most dynamic O we will face.  If the Buckeyes get past the Cornhuskers with the win, this could be a special season.

doodah_man's picture

"The conference’s best team and player could be Ohio State and Miller, despite a postseason ban for the Buckeyes."
Wait...what? Post season ban. We are banned from post season play. Bet no one on this site knew that! 
#5 is a warrior.

Jim "DooDah" Day
It is hard to play dirty against a man who picks you up.

kevinfrenchfry's picture

i wish kenny guiton could be serve a greater role on this team somehow.

chitown buckeye's picture

I think his greatest role is being hidden until we play ttun. It was talked about by Meyer that he was thinking of putting those two on the field at the same time. I think we will see it in November. No need to waste those packages now.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

altrn8ngcurrent's picture

Did anyone see UL-Monroe's Dual QB read option? Although it is gimmacky as hell, I would love to see that!

MediBuck's picture

Loved it. For a tiny team with two QBs, you might as well use everything you have to give you leverage against those big SEC teams.
I'd kill to see Kenny G take the snap, fake the read to young Braxton, then pull and run into the open expanse while half the opposing defense crashes down on Miller. Would be sweet if we pulled it on Bielema so we can see those fish lips of his contort into a shocked pucker.

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

AC1972's picture

I am very intersted in seeing KennyG, Brax and Hall all on the field at the same time.  Threats to run or throw from all three...just don't want to see Brax or Kenny throwing any blocks!

Buckeyejason's picture

i wish kenny guiton could be serve a greater role on this team somehow.

 
 
He can..put Miller at RB where he can use his god given talents and start Kenny G who is probably a better passer than Braxon with better pocket presence.

BUCKEYES BABY!

Poison nuts's picture

@Kevinfrenchfry - Absolutely! While he is not the athlete that Braxton is, I would have the utmost faith in him coming in, executing, & running the offense without too many errors. I am a huge Braxton fan. The way he can make people miss is a thing of beauty. So it may not be as exciting if he has to come in & I believe Braxton is the best option, but I think Kenny G. might show a little more discipline in the pocket & may be a little more prone to trust some of the other guys to make plays...

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

WC Buckeye's picture

We just have to hope for continued good protection and for this wonderful athlete to stay healthy when he's out creating in space. If Kenny G has to come in, he'll be ready but we do take a step backward, only because he's not had the reps. I think we're going to be fine either way.

"You might outsmart me, but you'll never outwork me"

kevinfrenchfry's picture

storm klein officially named starter at middle lb, ESPN's Austin Ward Tweets

scarpenter614's picture

Jerry Springer Buckeye Edition:  A souce very close to Storm's gf confirms that the incident this past summer really was blown out of proportion and not nearly as bad as we were made to believe.  Apparently they have a child together and Urban treats them all like family and things are going well now.  I wonder how much of a better player Storm would be today if he had been allowed to go to summer camp with the rest of the team...

MediBuck's picture

Good for him. I've been underwhelmed by Grant, and though Klein is no otherworldly athlete, he plays smart and conservatively.

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

scottynoshotty's picture

I agree totally with 713..thats the same thought i had on Kenny..a gamer..sure he doesnt have Braxton level talent..but he doesnt seemed fazed at all by being the back up or being put in a tough spot. As soon as Braxton went down you saw Kenny immideatly grab his helmet smiling ear to ear and run out on the field. He may not have had to throw but MSU knew the run was coming and that was a great option with hall for the big gain. He made the defender commit,, drew him in and timed the pitch perfectly. Like others on here said it is inevitable hell have to take more very meaningful snaps in the future, and its awesome he seems to welcome the pressure and spotlight.

Well i like college and i like football...and im gunna keep doin em both cause they make me feel good!!!

btalbert25's picture

I think Guiton's only negatives where he was brought into a program that had Terrelle Pryor and Braxton Miller.  Those are 2 of the greatest athletes Ohio State has ever had.  If Guiton ever had the opportunity to play QB on a full time basis he probably would of ended up being a very good starter somewhere. 

Poison nuts's picture

Yessir...and we are probably very lucky he wants to stay at OSU & be a team guy because I think he would excel elsewhere.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

A good gritty game where we came out with the big W, which is huge.  The pain doesn't hurt as much, the mistakes don't cost as much, and the confidence is greatly increased.  That victory will do more for the mental aspect of the game than anything else.  The team came together Saturday and Meyer knows it!  It is time to get some Husker payback!!!

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

AC1972's picture

^ Braxton HAS to be primed for revenge against the Huskers.  He all but had the game won last year, and then had to watch it get squandered.

whobdis's picture

I'm probably like most and think we've looked 'OK'..very good at times. During normal years I would put us just below 15. But it's hard to find many very good teams right now..at least ones that are playing like they should.  I think Nebraska may be tougher than MSU..at least their offense concerns me more. Though Maxwell passed much better than I had expected him too.
 

BoFuquel's picture

I think what is being refered to as poor tackling is the way this team is being coached to go after  the ball and not the man.Sometimes it works and sometimes it don't. I think this is now the way we do things,so we gonna have to get accustomed to it being done this way.Working well so far.GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Ashtabula's picture

I'm starting to get concerned about Braxton and his "injuries".  You can't need medical attention that many times and then return the game without any noticeable dropoff.  When he fumbles, this seems to happen quite often.  I figured watching Kenny continue the drive would be message sent and delivered...notice how Urban didn't rush him back in the game.  I certainly hope I'm wrong because he is ultra-talented and the most important piece to this team for the next two and half years, but I worry he is more like TP than Tebow.