Election Forecast

By Kyle Rowland on October 18, 2012 at 10:00a

As the calendar flips to mid-October and the thick of the campaign season, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller said he’s completely oblivious to his candidacy. A quick peak would reveal that he’s running second or third in the Heisman Trophy race, depending on which source he looks at. 

Whether it's passing...

Seven games into the college football season, Miller is yet to have a game that diminished his prospects. Put into an offensive system that is akin to a body builder flexing his muscles, Miller has already surpassed a large swath of his 2011 numbers that were generated in 12 games.

“I just go out there and play, ” Miller said. “Just go out there and have fun on Saturdays and whatever happens, happens. I’m just blessed to be where I’m at right now and to have the ability to do what I’ve got to do.”

He threw for 1,159 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions, playing in all but one game last season. Miller also rushed for 715 yards and seven scores. He was named the Big Ten’s freshman of the year for his exploits.

The sophomore numbers have verged on spectacular – 1,271 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. His completion percentage is up six percentage points to 60, and in 30 less rushing attempts, Miller has accumulated nearly 200 more yards. Miller is sitting at 912 yards and nine touchdowns with five games remaining.

In 2011, he averaged 4.5 yards per carry. That number has since jumped to seven yards. When he gains 88 more yards, Miller will become the first Ohio State quarterback to gain 1,000 yards and the first 1,000-yard rusher under Meyer in his 11 seasons as a head coach.

“Things happen and you grow, you mature and your body changes,” Miller said. “So, I’m just going to keep working hard.”

Miller has been nearly unstoppable running the football, while his passing skills have improved at a faster clip than expected.

Few players, if any, are as integral to their team’s overall success as Miller is to Ohio State. Undefeated and ranked in the top 10, the Buckeyes are everything that a Heisman contender could want. They are on the national radar week in and week out and are a constant talking point. Interestingly, the Ohio State defense, which can’t stop anyone at the moment, could actually stop Miller. A loss could be the end of the national attention for Ohio State.

Even with the ridiculous stats – 311 yards of total offense per game, including 130 yards rushing, and accounting for 20 touchdowns – the humble signal-caller says he still hasn’t played what he would consider a perfect game. What would be included in Miller’s “perfect game?”

...or running, Braxton Miller has all the tools.

“More balance running and throwing, a higher completion percentage,” he said. “No turnovers, a lot of scoring, things like that.”

When Miller’s comments trickled to Bradley Roby, the cornerback said if Miller played a perfect game, the offense might put up 100 points.

Playing in an offense led by Meyer and another offensive guru, Tom Herman, Miller has thrived. But it isn’t all coaching. Miller spoke of strength coach Mickey Marotti and the impact he’s had on his progression.

“The offseason workout is ridiculous,” Miller said. “But it definitely got us prepared for the season.”

Unfortunately for Miller and the Buckeyes, that offseason workout doesn’t make one more durable. Carrying the ball 18 times a game, Miller has taken his share of hard hits this season. He’s been hit late out of bounds several times and had to come out of a handful of games. Backup Kenny Guiton has asserted himself well, though, leading a touchdown drive on each occasion Miller has come out due to an injury.

One of those hold-your-breath instances if you’re a fan or coach came this past weekend at Indiana. Miller, though, says he’s only been fearful once.

“I feel really good,” he said. “I was just worried at the Michigan State game when my leg locked out. I was a little nervous about that. But last game, that was just a little hip pointer, and it didn’t linger with me. I feel good now.”

A boon to Miller’s success has been the improved offensive line play in front of him. They’ve kept him upright a majority of the time, giving him ample opportunity to throw the football, and opened running lanes that are more well-maintained than some Ohio highways. It’s that same line that has contributed to Carlos Hyde’s rise at running back.

The Buckeyes have had two 100-yard rushers in consecutive games for the first time in 37 years.

“They’ve come a long way,” Miller said of his five bodyguards. “They’re out there working hard every day in practice. I’ve seen their whole body type change from before the new coaching staff got here and now.

Meyer has been reluctant to call Miller a Heisman candidate.

“As soon as Coach Meyer came here, he pushed them and (offensive line coach Ed Warinner) pushed them. Our strength coach pushed them to the point where they want to get better and make everybody better around them.”

Jack Mewhort and Reid Fragel have received a lot of the attention generated by the line, but it’s Corey Linsley that has stuck out to the quarterback. Then again, that’s the guy that snaps him the ball. At center, Linsley is the leader of the offensive line, according to Miller.

“He makes all the calls for the rest of the O-linemen,” he said. “He’s the leader of that unit.”

With no postseason, which could include two games – Big Ten championship and a bowl – some have dismissed Miller’s chances at bringing an eighth stiff-arm trophy back to Columbus. The conference championship weekend has acted a springboard for many Heisman hopefuls in recent seasons. But Houston quarterback Andre Ware won the 1989 Heisman when the Cougars were under a similar ban.

Meyer has been asked about Miller’s worthiness in the discussion a few times throughout the season, including after the season opener. At that time, Meyer scoffed at any notion of Miller being a Heisman candidate. Miller had just broken the school record for quarterback rushing yards in a single game, and it would be a foreshadowing of what was in store for the near future.

At the midway point of the season, after the Nebraska game, Meyer gave more legitimacy to the Heisman campaign, though he still cautioned that Miller wasn’t yet a candidate.

“I think he’s certainly one to watch,” Meyer said. “He’s got the ability. In about two or three games I think you can start talking about that. I’m not talking to Braxton about it.”

The calculator has continued to spit out a high volume of numbers. And after West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith and his Mountaineers stumbled last week at Texas Tech, Miller’s opening arrived. He slammed the door shut with 367 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.

“We’re trying to win some games,” Meyer said. “I think at the right time he will be a candidate if he continues to play very well.”

The time has come.


Comments Show All Comments

Doc's picture

Thanks for the article Kyle.  It validates my case in the Skully.  I knew I knew what I was talking about.....

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

QBYBuckeye's picture

Focus on what you can control - preparation and execution.  Wins and rewards are the result of excellence in those two things.

New York Buckeye

hodge's picture

"The sophomore numbers have verged on spectacular – 1,271 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. His completion percentage is up six percentage points to 60, and in 30 less rushing attempts, Miller has accumulated nearly 200 more yards."

You mean 30 less sacks given up because of a swiss-cheese O-line?

tennbuckeye19's picture

I found the Swiss Cheese you speak of Hodge. Yeah, you're right, I think I see Mike Brewster and J.B. Shugarts in there. 
Edit: I'm guessing the person who downvoted this did so because they are more of a cheddar kind of person and perhaps you think swiss cheese smells.

Earle's picture

Its Shugarts.  False Start.

Snarkies gonna snark. 

BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

I'm guessing whoever down voted this is more a fan of fromunda cheese...

45OH4IO's picture

This article made me realize that the OL has not only stepped up, but they have been there consistently. The Bucks have had the same 5 starters every game right? Of course, I do not want to jinx them. We can only hope that if someone went down, the back ups are well prepared to take on a bigger role. But when an OL gets more and more snaps together and starts to figure things out, it creates momentum and makes it easier to make adjustments!

IBleedSandG's picture

Brax is rapidly becoming one of my favorite Buckeyes of all-time. As Urb said recently, he has no ceiling. I believe that, especially as he continues to hone his passing skills. I love the kids humility, which has got to be tough when you are the star play at one of the most prestigious programs in the country. I have a feeling his passing numbers will improve now that Hyde has established himself as a quality RB. Looking back at the Indiana game, he should probably have had at least another 50-60 yards passing and a few more TD's if Devin would make the more routine catches consistently.


BuckGuy003's picture

Wish he would practice his interview skill cause he tends to come off dumb in those post game interviews. I'm pretty sure he's just nervous and I agree I love that he's not loud or obnoxious like detard.

Charlotte Buckeye Chip's picture

12-0 = Heisman but I think he will be sitting in NY either way.  The Tebow comparisons will follow because he is only a Sophomore.  The thing that jumped out at me in this article is the fact that Urban NEVER had a 1,000 yard rusher.  Tebow never did that.  If Braxton puts up close to 1,500 yards rushing, and limits his interception number, he's holding that Trophy. I can't wait to see it!  Go Bucks!!!

~Charlotte Buckeye Chip

sj52's picture

I found that amazing too. I had to go look up Tebow's, Alex Smith's and Josh Harris stats. Hard to believe no 1,000 yard rusher.

The thing that jumped out at me in this article is the fact that Urban NEVER had a 1,000 yard rusher.

741's picture

I approve this message!

Borrowed Time's picture

I'm really excited about how Braxton is living up to his potential. During the Pryor years, he would always be preseason offensive player of the year or whatnot, purely based on potential, but never lived up to it.
Braxton... just the opposite. Didn't have nearly the hype TP had early in the season, but is blowing everyone away.

SPreston2001's picture

I think it was moreso the offense that Pryor was in. You put Pryor in this zone read offense and I guarantee we would have seen a different type of beast! Giving him the option to handoff, run, or throw the ball on every play would have opened things up for TP. Tres wanted his QB's to stay in the pocket and make the throws (not TP's strongest skillset).

onetwentyeight's picture

I will always maintain that if Pryor had played for (Oregon, Michigan, Urban Meyer, etc, or ) a coach who was willing to use him fully (sorry, The Senator lost me on that point forever when he refused to let TP sneak it in from the 1 yard line against USC. At Home. #NeverForget) he would've rewrote every single NCAA offensive record on the books and broken Archie's Heisman record. Pryor was Brax/ Nard-dog / Pat White speed and quickness on a Tim Tebow/Cam Newton frame. In fact, Cam Newton's one season at Auburn (with worse surrounding pieces on offense than @ OSU) was a good baseline for the type of career Pryor could've (Should've) had. As for his ceiling, god only knows. Sigh. 

johnblairgobucks's picture

one thing though, when Pryor did scramble/ get designed run plays, he seemed to lack a nose for the endzone.  Don't get me wrong, he was phenomenal, and won a LOT of games for OSU.  But after seeing Braxton have unquenchable desire to score when he runs the ball, the days of seeing Pryor skip out of bounds at the yard sticks aren't as missed. 
So many Saturdays, I wanted Pryor to cut back into the field and try to outrun/stiff arm DB's and take it to the house.  But that is just me being a fan, wanting a player to do things, I myself could never do.

Oyster's picture

Not really sure where this post should go, or if it should be an entirely new topic, but Pryor does not exist in my eyes.  I was leery of him from the start with his media charade of waiting to commit, his prima donna attitude and eventually what he did to the program.  I don't know all the details, nor do I think we will for a few years, but I personally hold him accountable for this whole mess, and somewhat on Coach Tressel for letting him get away with what he did.
I could go on for pages and pages about this because I have very strong opinions about this whole thing.
I really don't care if you agree or not, this is my opinion and it will not change until the whole story comes out.
Also, I still believe that Coach Tressel is an honorable man.
Downvote if you will, I don't care!

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

buckeye76BHop's picture

I don't think Miller will win it this year even if OSU goes undefeated.  It would take a colossal flop by the top 4-5 Heisman front runners for Brax360 to win it this year.  Next year and 2014 if he comes back could be very interesting...especially with all the other weapons he'll have;-)

"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 

bassplayer7770's picture

I mostly agree.  I think he'll still be in the discussion, but I'm not expecting him to win it this year.  As he grows with the rest of this Offense, he is going to be almost impossible to stop.
Keep up the good work, Braxton!

btalbert25's picture

Most of the Heisman speculation has him a 2 or 3 for the award.  I agree, I think he probably doesn't win it this year, but at most it would take a flop by 2 other players not 4 or 5.  I was thinking early on he may be in the mid 40's for total TD's, with Hyde getting so many that Braxton may have run in earlier in the year, I don't think 40 is going to happen.  I think he'll need to be in the 40's to actually win it.  Though 3500 combined yards and 35TD's may do it for him. He'll be in New York though, I believe that.

SPreston2001's picture

I think its pretty much Genos to lose. Brax will get his chance at it next year or his senior year (if he stays) but I dont really see him getting it this year. I hope he does, but I dont see it happening...

Earle's picture

Can't see Braxton leaving early, not if he wants to play QB at the next level.  There's a lot of work to be done in the passing game.  Then again, maybe he'll surprise me.  He does with his running almost every week.

Snarkies gonna snark. 

Tim's picture

The winning QB in WVU-KSU this weekend will have the inside track if he plays well and doesn't have a bad performance after that.  I really hope Miller can win it, but it's going to be tough.

OldColumbusTown's picture

I agree, as long as each of the QB's doesn't have a subpar performance, even despite winning the game.  All it would take would be for KSU to shut down Geno again, but for Klein to throw a few picks, not really do much with his legs, and rely on their RB's.
If Geno Smith continues to put up amazing numbers without turning the ball over, and WVU continues to win the majority of their games, I think it's safe to say he'll win the Heisman.  BUT, if he has a few so-so games, and Braxton has a game or two against decent competition (PSU, Wisconsin, or Michigan) where he puts up mind-boggling numbers, I think Braxton could take it away from him.
We all know Braxton has the ability to put up 250-300 yards passing/150 yards rushing and numerous TD's.  If he does that in a big-time showdown with one of the better teams remaining on OSU's schedule, I think he can really drive up that Heisman stock.  As good and consistent as he has been so far this year, he still has left plays out on the field at times (or, in his defense, his teammates at times have left those plays on the field for him).  Imagine if and when it all comes together...

45OH4IO's picture

Agreed. I was watching the FOX game last week and they put Matt Barkley's picture up in the Heisman graphic. I understand they televise a lot of Pac 12 games, but FOX has to be honest and keep him out of the convo. I mean, come on.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Ultimately, the lack of defense played in the Big 12 is disappointing and voters will look at level of competition and not exclusively at a team's defense - it's way too in depth and would take too much effort for these people with the almighty vote.  Big 12 has better teams this year and both Smith and Klein will be judged to have beaten better teams.  Miller should be in the conversation at this point, but he's going to have to have some incredible games, unbelievable moments, and an unblmeished record.

Read my entire screen name....

bhsiba99's picture

Braxton's clearly in the top 3 and given his superior atheltic skills (over Geno Smith and Colin Klien) he should have more "Heisman Moments" that will make him stick out more to the voters.  The greatest negative he has that he will get no more airtime after the Michigan game and the other contenders likely will, with championship games.  My prediction he will get the invite to NYC and will win if WV and KS do not make the B12 championship game.

OldColumbusTown's picture

One good thing from Braxton's side is the Big 12 actually no longer has a championship game.  Since they only have 10 teams, there are no longer separate divisions/championship game.

buckeyepastor's picture

.  At the very least, if he continues to play as he has, he will no doubt get an invite to NYC.   The nice thing about a win for him this year is that there's no bowl game for the "banquet circuit" to ruin for us as it seemed to inhibit TS in 2006.   If we somehow survive PSU, Wisky, and especially Michigan with wins, it will be because of him and will go a long ways towards his candidacy.   An 11-1 or 1-2 Buckeyes team, and he likely goes to NYC but no trophy.  12-0 is needed, I think for him to win.  So, let's talk more about this when we're 12-0.  

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

JJB's picture

If we somehow survive PSU, Wisky, and especially Michigan with wins, it will be because of him and will go a long ways towards his candidacy.

So what you are saying is... our poor defensive play is all an act to springboard Miller to win the Heisman... ;)  
I like it.

btalbert25's picture

Let's be real about this, Braxton has put up a great 7 games and if he continues on the pace he's going to be a finalist.  IF, last week was just a bad game and Geno bounces back and puts up huge numbers the rest of the year, the dude deserves it. 

Grayskullsession's picture

It is interesting that the first game that WVU played where a team knew what defense was it did not go well for Geno. Braxton has already played great defenses in UCF, MSU, and Nebraska. If Braxton continues putting up the insane numbers and WVU keeps floundering against mediocre Big 12 opponents then the Heisman race could get VERY interesting.

"if irony were made of strawberries, we' d all be drinking a lot of smoothies right now."

onetwentyeight's picture

I wouldn't call UCF a "great" defense, but your point remains clear. Geno is a system QB putting up typical Air Raid inflated numbers against bad defenses and given every single snap to throw. I expect them to get crushed by Kansas State this week and for the shine on his Heisman campaign to vanish quickly thereafter. 

BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

Klein and Smith play each other this week. I'm predicting both defenses show up for the first time this year and WVU wins 6-3. Both teams have a loss, Brax surpasses both in Heisman race...

Ok, that's not my actual prediction, just my hopes and dreams.

Dougger's picture

If Brax on Brax on Brax one-ups Denarded last year in The Game by going 200 and 200, there's no way he doesn't get top two in voting

I like football

johnblairgobucks's picture

A couple of nights ago on ESPN News, they did a Heisman Hopeful segment and covered/ showed highlights of:
Geno Smith
KSU's QB Klien
ND's LB Teo
Not a mention of Braxton.  From all I've seen, Braxton seem's to be riding in the #2 spot, in most Heisman polls, but is lacking the media push that others are getting.