Trick or Treat: Miller Continues to Haunt Defenses

By Kyle Rowland on October 29, 2012 at 10:00a

Performances likes Braxton Miller’s Saturday night act in State College shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore. But the jukes, creativity and crisp passes – even with several over and underthrows – still cause headshaking. Now nine games into a Heisman Trophy campaign, and only 20 into his career, Miller has evolved into one of the most dynamic and exciting players in college football. 

He's not Superman, but they share the same characteristics.

In front of 107,818 screaming Penn State fans at Beaver Stadium, Miller calmly directed the Ohio State offense one week after suffering a neck injury that prompted a trip to the OSU Medical Center. If there were any lingering problems, they weren’t apparent from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

The Buckeyes’ 35-23 win pushed their record to 9-0. In the process, Miller added to one of the best seasons in school history for an Ohio State quarterback.

One hundred thirty-four rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns and a 72-yard scoring strike to Jake Stoneburner. In all, Miller accounted for 277 of Ohio State’s 377 offensive yards. He also eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season, becoming the first Urban Meyer-coached player to rush for 1,000 yards. Miller joins Denard Robinson and Antwaan Randle El as the only Big Ten quarterbacks to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

“He’s not Superman, but he’s a great athlete,” said Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges.

Indeed. Even when he didn’t have his “A” game Miller still stifled the Penn State defense.

It was never more evident than on a 3rd-and-goal run from the one-yard line. Miller, with no room to run, went in reverse then shifted right and left before leaping into the end zone. In the process, he eluded a plethora of Nittany Lion defenders.

“That was crazy,” Stoneburner said. “I’ve never seen a quarterback be able to do something like that, let alone most athletes. The sideline was just in awe.”

Meyer said the discussion on the headset included an “Oh my God!”

Miller ran 25 times for his 134 yards. He was sacked four times. His early throws sailed long and high – Miller was 4 of 12 passing in the first half – but he settled down, finishing 7 of 19 for 143 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Penn State had a couple near pick-sixes but dropped the ball.

“I think the crowd (noise) helped a little bit,” said Meyer, referencing the slow start. “It wasn’t just Braxton.”

As the game progressed, Miller developed more touch throwing the ball.  The touchdown came in the fourth quarter as Miller orchestrated another big third-down play, finding Stoneburner streaking up the seam near midfield. The tight end-turned-wide receiver outran the entire Penn State defense the final 50 yards en route to the end zone.

Jake Stoneburner was off to the races. 

“Once I beat my guy, I had to get vertical,” Stoneburner said. “I got vertical and Braxton threw a beautiful ball right over him. I was able to outrun the defense after that.”

Said Miller: “I prayed to God that ball got into his hands and that he scored. That was a good play.

“I missed a lot of throws early. I was excited to come back from the injury. I didn’t plant my feet and I was rushing it. But we came back in the second half. I slowed down and we got things going.”

Did they ever. It was the second time this season Miller has played in a game that was considered a matchup between the quarterbacks – Nebraska and Taylor Martinez being the other.

In both games, Miller has shined. While he did toss an interception Saturday, Miller’s was not of the backbreaking variety that Matt McGloin suffered, soft-tossing the ball to Ryan Shazier, who ran 17-yards to paydirt. McGloin would trade his career-high 327 passing yards to have that one throw back. The Penn State offense didn’t score a touchdown until the fourth quarter.

“Their front seven was tremendous,” said McGloin, about a group of Buckeyes that harassed him throughout the game. “They applied pressure all night. They were definitely prepared. We had some communication problems early on and we couldn’t get it done in the end.”

As Penn State’s quarterback lauded the Ohio State defense, the Nittany Lion defenders were lobbing praise at Miller.

“He’s a dual threat,” cornerback Stephen Morris said. “You got to worry about the pass, you got to worry about the run, obviously. It’s definitely hard. You got to make sure you detain. It’s hard to prepare for something like that. Malik (Golden) did a really good job (on the scout team).

“We got the real thing today. Braxton Miller – he’s a good player.”

Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien went one step further, referring to Miller as a top-five player in college football.

Miller’s head coach knew the signal-caller was in store for another hair-raising performance before the game even started. All Meyer has to do is take one look at Miller and read his body language and demeanor.

“He had that look in his eye,” Meyer said. “Twice this year I have seen that look. He is just such a competitive guy. I saw it against Nebraska and I saw it in this one. They were both night games. It’s the rah-rah. It’s the flash. Our challenge is to get that out of him in a noon game.”

Luckily for Meyer – and Miller – this week’s game versus Illinois is at 3:30. The Fighting Illini defense has also been torched multiple times this season, from the pass and the run. Miller will be primed for another Heisman-esque, highlight-reel performance.

Surprise, surprise.


Comments Show All Comments

O-H Kee Pa's picture

It's game like this past Saturday that make the fact that today is only Monday suck that much more. MOAR BUCKEYE FOOBAW!!!!

osubuck57's picture

If he's not in the top 5 discussion,no college football player should be.All he does is win!!! Not to mention his intangibles.I know he may not be the most consistent passer,yet, but gotta love this kids' leadership,demeanor,and heart.He just brings it every game and nothing seems to rattle this kid. Wish we had about 65 more of


bhardy22132's picture

That look that Braxton gets in his eyes, I expect that to be x1000 on November 24. This kid is unreal. He was a little excited Saturday with a few of his throws but when this kid takes off its just unreal.

gwalther's picture

Go Bucks

Class of 2008

439LawDog's picture

Giving credit where credit is due, those are some classy comments given by the PSU players and Coaches. PSU is one hell of a rival, but I just can't seem to hate them as much as another team....

Alhan's picture

Indeed. Kudos to the team for (from what I have seen so far) abstaining from blaming the refs for the game.

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

O-H Kee Pa's picture

I don't think anyone hates PSU as much as scUM. Personally, though, PSU might have supplanted Bucky as the #2 team I absolutely cannot stand in the BIG after this past week (and their fans ensuing comments after the game).

Run_Fido_Run's picture

In a nutshell, we hate/respect the Michigan team, but Michigan alumni are pretty harmless (Walmart Wolverines aside).
In contrast, we kinda respect PSU's players and new coach, but we don't care enough about them to hate them; whereas we are iratated by, and feel pity toward, PSU's bitterly deranged fans.

buckeyedude's picture

You obviously don't live anywhere near Michelin.



LouGroza's picture

If it helps, the band did not go to PSU due to getting piss thrown on them in the past. If that isn't enough to at least have a little scorn, what is?

avail31678's picture

This article is all wrong...just ask any PSU fan.  Braxton is merely the recipient of uncalled holding penalties.  (heavy sarcastic font)
Great write-up - especially like all the quotes from PSU's coach/players.  They were all very humble in their comments about the loss. 

misterbulbous's picture

I live in Lexington KY and have been hesitant to go to any organized "buckeye football watches" as I usually end up bringing bad karma (like last year's Purdue game).  Nothing's worse than sitting on pins and needles watching a game when your fanbase is outnumbered...but, based on the development and progress of this team, I think I can finally venture out this Saturday and enjoy the game.

BUCKtuckian's picture

I watched my first game not at home or the SHOE for the first time in about 5 yrs.
Me and 2 buddies hit Keenland for a few races then headed over to BW3 on Todds. There was about 10 Buckeye fans and 3 Penn St fans. The crowd was very diverse and was pleasant, until midway through the game a #16 jersey showed up and was visibly clapping for PSU. That guy bye the end of our game was seeing Rich Rod beating USC and Shoestrings hurt a fingernail. He was getting needled and heckled. Pretty funny stuff.

People are saying that I'm an alcoholic, and that's not true, because I only drink when I work, and I'm a workaholic.
Ron White

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I agree, this game against ILL is a perfect choice for exorcising your jinx (knock on wood).
The Buckeyes have tended to play down to their opposition, but ILL is really bad and the Silver Bullets are starting to figure it out. Because the special teams have given up KO return TD and three freakin' blocked punts, Urbz will have them on full alert this week.
Not even your "organized buckeye football watches" jinx can f--- this one up. Therefore, it's almost like this ILL team can be your "slump buster." Take this opportunity while you can! You never know when you'll get another layup like this again . . . well, you know, except for almost the entire 2013 schedule, but that's a very long time from now in football time.
HOWEVER, note the following decree: if you fail to seize on this opportunity to exorcise your jinx (or bust your slump) this weekend against ILL, under no circumstances are you permitted to attend an organized Buckeye football watch (in the state of Kentucky or other U.S. state, territory, or sovereign territory; or foreign country) for the 2012 games against Wisconsin or TTUN! 

misterbulbous's picture

LOL.  (the decree).  But I have so many superstitions...whether or not to DVR the game, what clothes to wear, whether or not to watch at home vs a bar, etc..Fortunately now ESPN or BGten network has been replaying games so I haven't had to worry about my DVR'ing jinx.
The Bluegrass Buckeyes has a game watch at Roosters (?).  It's on Nicholasville road by the mall.  They used to have it at Friends sports bar but that place was pretty lame.  Haven't been to roosters yet.

bodast67's picture

I can understand your hesitation being in a hostile crowd during B-ball season, but no one in kentucky should ever feel bad about being a Buckeye football fan...just sayin




     " I hope when I die, I die laughing"...                

misterbulbous's picture

LOL.  Yeah, no threat from UK fans...  I don't worry about crowd hostility when I'm in my OSU gear, i just don't like sitting in a bar with a bunch of drunk people in my OSU clothes if there is any chance of us losing.  We all know how polarizing OSU can be and the haters come out of the closet when they get their chance. 

Larryp713's picture

I am very good friends with a PSU die-hard, and he admitted that XBRAX360 1 yard juke was the sickest 1 yard run in the history of football. This team is fun to watch, and they have a special chemistry. I couldn't be prouder of our defense, led in part by the FB turned LB Zach Boren and DE turned LB Nate Williams. Kudos to the Defensive coaches.



bodast67's picture

I couldn't be prouder of our defense, led in part by the FB turned LB Zach Boren and DE turned LB Nate Williams. Kudos to the Defensive coaches.

Good call LarryP !




     " I hope when I die, I die laughing"...                

cinserious's picture

Wiscaansin will be a night game on the road this yr.and I expect Braxton to have the eye of the tiger again. What time is the michigan game? like 3:30 or something?

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Kyle Rowland's picture

Wisconsin will more than likely be a 3:30 start. Big Ten prohibits night games in November. Michigan is in its traditional High Noon timeslot. 

danavh4's picture

Kyle...any new recruiting new or rumors after the Penn State game?  Anything to watch for here in the near future?

Michigan Fan: "We lose a long snapper and the whole team goes to shit!"

Doc's picture

Once the jitters wore off Braxton looked more at ease.  I wish Urban would just let Braxton run on the first few plays from scrimmage to get him in the flow of the game.  Maybe then we wouldn't take the first quarter off.
I was very impressed with the defense.  They are seeming to gel a little better, maybe Luke's seat isn't as hot as we thought it was.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

brglr14's picture

i think his flow would be better if he would start hitting these open receivers on the short flat routes. would rewally open the mid of the field up.

I dont know karate but i do know crazy and i'm not afraid to use it.


ToothBuck's picture

Doc, I agree. Braxton might need a few scrambles to get settled in from the get go. As for the defense, I'm just not convinced. Against traditional pro style O's, we always seem to do just fine. It is that dink and dunk spread the field stuff that gets me in a hissy!

kevinfrenchfry's picture

lets hope he has a heisman esque performance, i was hoping for 400 all purpose for miller against purdue and he wasnt going to hit that even if he didnt get injured...

1MechEng's picture

Miller was 4 of 12 passing in the first half – but he settled down, finishing 7 of 19 for 143 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

I love Brax, but I don't think going 3 for 7 (42%) in the second half constitutes "settling down". He was just awful throwing the ball in the first quarter, with a number of throws high and well off the mark (possibly due to not setting his feet). As usual, his running was jaw-dropping-ly spectacular. His agility never ceases to amaze.
I'm surprised more hasn't been said about how McGloin was often too late with his reads and deliveries. Almost all of the talk has been about the 320+ yds.
I'm hoping we can finally have an easy game this upcoming Saturday (like the ones we were supposed to have against Indiana, Purdue, etc.) where the Buckeye victory is not in doubt. Still, it feels good to be 9-0!

bodast67's picture

I think settling down meant completing big first down passes and connecting with Stony for a huge backbreaking TD play in the second half.
I agree that the numbers weren't really their, but the passes had more importance when it mattered, including not throwing them right at defenders ! 




     " I hope when I die, I die laughing"...                

cjkanski's picture

I always wonder why Herman does not call any short out passes to the TE. Seems like that would be an easy way let Brax settle into the game and pick up yards while minimizing risk. Is Herman just not willing to be that conservitive with the passing game?
Why throw to the Y reciever and run the risk of a late throw (it was) resulting in a pick-6 (thankfully PSU dropped it).

"I could *BLEEP* forever. *BLEEP until I drop" - The Count


cjkanski's picture

Don't get me wrong I like the deep ball payoff, I'd just like to see the offense take the low hanging fruit the Defense gives them.

"I could *BLEEP* forever. *BLEEP until I drop" - The Count


brglr14's picture

kid is a sick freak. totally different player in 2nd half. i wonder if mabey what happened to him a week ago was on his mind a little and it took a half for him to cut loose. do like how he was hitting the deck more and stepping out bounds on runs instead of making contact.

I dont know karate but i do know crazy and i'm not afraid to use it.


buckeyedude's picture

I think crowd noise certainly played a part in the communication between Braxton, the coaches and his linemen in the first half. Plus nerves. You may not like the Nitny Liunz, but you can't deny whenever they play Ohio State, they're loud as hell.
We'll be awww-ite.



buckeye76BHop's picture

I can't wait till this tickets and am hoping for the highlight reel game you referred to Kyle.  I'm going with 45-14 Buckeyes!  Go Bucks!

"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 

Earle's picture

“He’s not Superman, but he’s a great athlete,” said Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges.

Ageed, Braxton is not Superman.  He is StuporMan, for making defenders look like they are in a daze.

Snarkies gonna snark. 

O-H Kee Pa's picture

I'll admit that it has taken me awhile to adjust to all of the transitions that has taken place this season. Don't get me wrong; I've tuned in for every game, and have been on board with UFM since day one. But, it kind of felt like there was a mutual feeling out process for everyone involved with Buckeye football (fans, coaches, players, etc.). However, after this past Satrurday, I'm totally, 100% all in. The excitement level for me is getting back to the height of the JT era.

Boxley's picture

We were very lucky that PSU defense could not catch any of Brax's passes in the first half either, although the passes were a lot closer to them than our own receivers. If intercepted, that would have change the entire game, we could have been down 14-0 in the first quarter on the road at night. But we were not.
This is the third, fourth? game in a row where Braxton is all over the place with his throws. When he gets his rythym back we will smoke the opposing teams. The receivers are open, he is flat out missing them, too long, too short, behind, over their head, all wide open recievers.
Then he goes and throws an absolutely perfectly timed drop to Stoneburner for 72 yards. As long as he keeps getting a couple of those a game, he may never feel forced to improve. Eventually his inability to be consistent with his passing is going to cost them a game.
For all those wanting to downvote me, I am not saying I want us to lose, but this repetitive failure to improve regarding Braxton's passing is going to bite us eventually. If he can get his passing game together he will be one of the best, if not the best quarterback in college football. But he is not there yet, and will not get there without improving his passing game, throwing and recognizing his reads more quickly. He can get there, he certainly has all of the skills and great coaches to push him forward.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

Doc's picture

He'll get there.  This off season will do wonders for him.  he won't be learning an entirelly new offense and he'll have Herman to help him out.  I think he and his recievers will get things down this winter.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Maestro's picture

Agreed.  Continued reps with all the receivers, minus Stoney, will be what the Doc ordered.

vacuuming sucks

chitown buckeye's picture

Completely agree. Remember though that he is still just a sophmore and this is his first true season with compatent coaches. I think we will see a vast improvement from this year to next. As stated above he wont be learning a new system and he can concentrate more on improving his throwing.
I found it interesting that he reconized what he was doing wrong. Making the comments about how he "wasnt setting his feet", etc.. is refreshing to me because we know he is getting coached properly and that he understands what Meyer and Herman are saying to him. That in itself speaks volumes to me. He will improve, it took Troy til his senior year before he really became an all around QB.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

BeijingBucks's picture

Everyone seems to forget that Braxton didn't start a good chunk of last year (the rest of us are trying to forget ducking throws to home in the 15th row).  Inconsistent passing is the mainstay of a college QB in their first-second year.  Remember Troy?  He started out a run first QB and then suddenly focused on his passing and converted into a pocket passer.  I would arguably say Brax is a better passer at this point in his career than Troy was (until the UM game came around when Troy went into beast 360 mode).
With all the new offensive schemes, coaches, etc going on I for one am very content with their progress.  If anything the lack of perfection is even more exciting week to week than if everything was perfect.  My heart is enjoying the workout but my stomach is wondering what all these bleeding holes are that have started appearing in the 1st qtr of each game.

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

Buckeye06's picture

A couple throws every game you look at and say, man if he could do that 70% of the time, OSU could be great.  In this game, his throws to Spencer and Stoney were those 2 throws.  People expect a lot from him, but he may not even be 20 yet.  Kid has a little more time, but you can tell he never gets rattled mentally which is great to see

BuddhaBuck's picture

I think Ramzy said it best on Saturday.. 61 retweets.

Ramzy Nasrallah ‏@ramzy

Don't text while driving.

Maestro's picture

Miiler is 1st in the country in 10+ yard rushing plays, 20+ yard rushing plays, 30+ yard rushing plays, and 50+ yard rushing plays.
By season's end if he maintains his averages for the above categories he will have 51-10+ yard rushing plays, 17-20+ yard rushing plays, 12-30+ yard rushing plays, and 5-50+ yard rushing plays.
In 2010 Cam Newton had 50-10+ yard rushing plays, 14-20+ yard rushing plays, 6-30+ yard rushing plays, and 2-50+ yard rushing plays.  Of course that was in a 14 game season.

vacuuming sucks

Earle's picture

Who in the world is making all the 40+ runs but falling down before he gets to 50?

Snarkies gonna snark. 

buckeyedude's picture

True, but Cam played in the far superior ESSS EEEE  SEEEE.



nickma71's picture

This offense would be Oregon unstopable if Miller could throw with more accuracy on a consistent basis.

bassplayer7770's picture

I couldn't agree more, and Braxton's throwing will improve over time.  2013 and 2014 should be awfully fun to watch!

osubuckeye4life's picture

Some humble words by PSU. I have to say that BoB has done a very good job considering the circumstances.  
Braxton is just going to get better and better.