Hype Surrounding Miller Not a Concern for Quarterback

By Kyle Rowland on April 2, 2013 at 10:00a
Braxton Miller isn't concerned with the hype he's receiving heading into the 2013 season.

Undefeated season? Check. Record-setting statistics? Check. Larger-than-life expectations? Check. That’s what drives Ohio State’s dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller, one of the nation’s most dynamic players. 

Not only did the Buckeye signal-caller have one of the best seasons in school history, he also had one of the finest years ever for an Urban Meyer-coached quarterback. That’s quite an accomplishment when you consider Meyer has coached one of the greatest college football players of all-time in Tim Tebow and a No. 1 overall draft pick, Alex Smith.

Still, the area of potential growth for Miller is vast. Meyer and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman said improvement in fundamentals is a must for Miller as he enters his second season in an up-tempo system tailored to his strengths. His throwing motion and footwork are the two areas under the most scrutiny.

Days after Ohio State completed its 12-0 season, mostly on the back – or legs – of Miller, his head coach brought him back to Earth with stern comments regarding his game but ended the statement with a compliment, as only Meyer can do.

“This is big-boy football,” Meyer said. “That’s your job. He did great work in other areas. Tom Herman did a fabulous job. But Tom Herman and Braxton Miller understand they have to get better. And Braxton, fundamentally, if he becomes fundamentally the best quarterback in America, I think he will be the best quarterback in America.”

Miller said he thinks about those words every time he steps on the field. Blessed with the physical tools that few ever attain, he’s worked on the flaws in his otherwise spectacular skillset and is poised for another season that features video game highlights.  

“I would say if he was at a 1 this time last year and a 4 at the end of the season, he’s at a 6 right now,” Herman said. “He could be an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s just a matter of the process and the teaching progression has to be at a pace where he can feel good about where he’s at. And then take the next step and the next step.

“Do we all want him to be an 11 today? Yes, we do. And he would tell you that, too, because we see it. We know that it’s there. But you have to be careful with how much you dump on a kid all at once or else you do more harm than good in terms of stunting that growth.”

Pressure and expectations have little effect on Miller, who emits a calmness even in the most stressful situations. The former high school phenom has dealt with outsized hopes from adoring fans for years. Ohio is a football-crazed state that takes high school football serious. A change of scenery at Ohio State actually changes little for Miller. 

“if he becomes fundamentally the best quarterback in America, I think he will be the best quarterback in America.”

He’s comfortable in the spotlight and embraces being the center of attention. With nine starters back on offense and an offensive line that welcomes back four starters, the Buckeyes are eyeing 26 consecutive wins and a national championship. For Miller, the talk centers around one of sports' most hallowed individual honors – the Heisman Trophy.

“I’ve been hearing it every time I go somewhere, ever since the last game of the season,” he said. “Finishing 12-0 was big. I’ll live with the expectation and keep working hard.

“Last year, I second-guessed myself because I didn’t know the plays as well. But this year I know the plays better and I’m throwing guys open and things like that.”

Miller flirted with contention for the bronze stiff-arm trophy a season ago before ultimately finishing fifth in the voting. He set a school record with 3,310 total yards and added 1,271 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground – the first player under Meyer to eclipse the 1,000-yard threshold. Miller passed for 2,039 yards with 15 touchdowns and six interceptions.

If he – or any other Ohio State player – wins the Heisman, the Buckeyes will break a tie with Notre Dame with the most Heisman winners. Both schools currently have seven. 

Reaching his potential, a level Meyer says Miller has barely even approached, is essential for the hard worker. It’s why Miller was back at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center two days after the Michigan game and why he spent time in San Diego over winter break with quarterback guru George Whitfield, not lounging around on his couch in Columbus.

“He’s doing good. Not great, but he’s doing very good,” said Meyer, about Miller’s progress this spring. “Not that he didn’t do good last year, but you wish you didn’t have to play him that first year. He wasn’t ready to play. And he still was Big Ten freshman of the year. It just tells you how talented he is. But his quarterback development is behind a little bit.”

That first year was a 6-7 nightmare of a season for Ohio State. It started with Jim Tressel’s ouster and the avalanche picked up speed from there. Miller’s season was up and down, but as Meyer said, it ended with conference honors.

He was still raw at the beginning of last season, but showed marked improvement from the midway point to the end of the year. Miller may have taken a beating his freshman year, served up inconsistent performances and lost the all-important game against Michigan, but he said the season offered lessons he may have never learned.

“In some ways it was good,” Miller said.

Eighteen months later, a calamitous season is the harbinger for a potential national championship.

Divine intervention? Check.


Comments Show All Comments

carence's picture

I love how he is humble and is aware of the situation! His potential is endless! 

buckeyepastor's picture

I agree.  His athleticism and dual-threat abilities remind me of another recent Buckeye QB.  But Miller, at least from what I've seen, seems to have a humility and self-awareness that was missing with Pryor.   Maybe it's that he doesn't make editorial comments about things or air his frustrations publicly as Pryor did.  But there also seems to be a different type of leadership coming from him, more of a "buy in" to the program with the way he goes about his business.  

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Buckeyeneer's picture

He reminds me more of Troy. I think he is a better scrambler but has a weaker arm.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

Poison nuts's picture

I don't think it's a weaker arm, just less accurate. If he were to become the passer Troy was and maintain his ability to scramble when needed, he would literally be unstoppable.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

CC's picture

Braxton really didn't have a lot of "scrambling" yards last year.  Moist were designed runs.
I would say his designed runs were much better than TP but TP's scrambles, especially on 3rd and 11 type downs was rediculous. 

RunEddieRun1983's picture

Let's go BRAX!

I don't always downvote, but I do always downvote a Michigan fan trolling the Buckeye boards.

jthiel09's picture

151 days, 1 hour and 50 minutes.


trasch_man's picture

Miller seems to have his head on straight which is why I wouldn't trade him for anyone. His ceiling might not be as high as Manziel's but I also don't see him taking pictures in casinos with rolls of hundreds or sitting on the floor at an NBA game. Braxton seems like a good kid who isn't arrogant or egotistical but still shines in the spotlight.

buckeyepastor's picture

No doubt.  Manziel is an amazing player, but all of the "celebrity" garbage around him is annoying.  Truth be told, he can't control it all.  Even if he doesn't want it at all, people could and would still post pics and videos of him.  But the truth is he creates these situations, and he HAS to know that.  And yes, I realize he's only, like, 19 years old, and 19 year olds do foolish things sometimes, and he's entitled to be his own person.   But there is a lack of self-awareness in his decisions, and a disregard for the truth that he's a part of something WAY bigger than just himself.    

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

TheBadOwl's picture

His ceiling is way higher than Manziel's, IMO. Manziel's stats get the benefit of throwing mostly screens, hitches, and bubbles. Although I think Manziel's football IQ is off the charts, we could see a jump to that level from Braxton in year 2 of the spread.
Physically, though, Braxton is way ahead of Manziel IMO.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

Mattymatt's picture

With the combination of a weaker schedule, also a second year under Urban, this could be the year. His potential is through the roof, and it will be on full display this fall. Is it football season yet?

4thandinches's picture

Crazy to think that the coaches at the end of last year didn't think he was even at half of his potential. They seem to think he can almost triple(!) his talent from last year. If Braxton can get anywhere near that 10 rating he might just win two Heismans in one year.
I love when Urban says stuff like he is good but not great yet. Urban is a phenomenal motivator and keeps pushing his players to aim for the next tier and to not be satisfied with where they are right now. I just hope Braxton has that hunger to satisfy Urbans thirst.    

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

zbd's picture

Enough of the Heisman talk before football fall practice starts. Nobody even knew who Johnny Manziel was before last season. Any individual awards will come if the team wins. Last I checked there were 22 starting players on each team.

Hovenaut's picture

For all his talent and potential, what's doing it for me is Braxton is working his butt off to be great. He wants it, and wants to put forth the effort to get it......outstanding.

Poison nuts's picture

OSU is lucky to have this kid, & we're all pretty lucky as fans too! Spring game soon please...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

osubuck57's picture

QB isn't an easy position to master.If it was,everyone would be playing it.Brax has so many of those intangiables that can't be taught.Wish we could bottle him up and keep him around another 10 or so years!! He does it the right way and always works his tail off to get better,whether its working at QB camps,extra time with our WRs,just love this guy.He may not reach Troys' stats,passing,but I'd take him any day of the week and twice on Sundays.All he does is just WIN!!


Dougger's picture

I can't stop smiling from ear to ear... because I cannot wrap my mind around this statement:

“I would say if he was at a 1 this time last year and a 4 at the end of the season, he’s at a 6 right now,”


I like football

BeijingBucks's picture

Its scientific name, Gulo gulo, is Latin for glutton and refers to the animal’s eating habits.  It is known to carry 5x it's body weight in Hostess.
What is it?
And here we thought it was the history that brought Hoke to town?!

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

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I was surprised to see that Urbz said, ". . . you wish you didn’t have to play him [Miller] that first year."
Urbz was the espn game analyst in the 2011 opener against a terrible Akron team. The Buckeyes won 42-0, but were a bit sluggish at times, foreshadowing what would be a bad season. I distinctly remember Urbz saying during the Akron game, basically "put the kid in and see what he can do."  

sharks's picture

I think a little more poise and patience in the pocket is all that stands between Braxton and the all-time Buckeye greats.  He'll have an embarrassment of wealth at the WR positions this season, so all signs are pointing to a huge year.

A man got to have a code...