Braxton Miller's Ceiling Keeps Rising (and Rising)

By Jeff Beck on October 28, 2013 at 2:30p
50 Comments
Gettin Shifty

When you think Braxton Miller, you think big plays. Certain snaps come to mind like this, this and this. There’s no question Miller can wow at any given moment, but putting together an entire game of highlights has eluded the junior until recently.

With his performance Saturday, Miller officially took his game to the next level.

That’s not to say Miller hasn’t had solid outings. Throughout 2012 his continued development as a QB was apparent. His game against Illinois (12-20 for 226 yards and 2 TDs with 73 yards on the ground and 1TD) was a monster, but he still lacked some of the discipline, pocket presence and mechanics to be an elite QB.

This offseason, with the help of George Whitfield and Tom Herman, Braxton was able to change that. It was apparent against Buffalo as Miller was firing darts on more than one occasion, however even then it seemed Braxton and the rest of the offense took their foot off the gas as the contest wore on.

Immediately following that game, Miller went down with a knee injury, so we weren’t able to see just how far he'd come. For three weeks Kenny Guiton regaled us with his heroics, but a voice in the back of everyone’s mind knew Braxton had only shown a glimpse of what he was working on in July.

In his comeback game against Wisconsin, Braxton didn’t disappoint. Throwing for 198 yards and 4 TDs, he was in complete command. At that point, Buckeye Nation felt they’d seen Miller’s best game in the Scarlet and Gray.

That is until two weeks later against Iowa. While his TD numbers weren’t as eye-popping, his 222 yard, 2 TD day was his most efficient as a Buckeye (81.5% completion percentage). Add 102 more yards on the ground, and fans felt they'd gotten a glimpse of Miller’s impressive ceiling.

The game this Saturday proved the ceiling is vaulted.

Miller looked like the best player in college football, as he put together the most impressive game of his Buckeye career. On a night where the reliable offensive line looked shaky in pass protection, Miller gave us a chance to see his improved mechanics on the move to the tune of 252 yards 3 TDs and a 204.5 QB rating (his highest ever)

Flushed out of the pocket on more than one occasion, No. 5 kept his eyes down-field to deliver the ball to play-makers. In games past, many of those instances resulted in tuck and runs. But, that instinct has changed, turning potential 10 yard gains into 30 yard receptions while decreasing the amount of wear and tear.

Example: this 36 yard throw to Devin Smith.

Braxton Miller Making Things Happen When The Pocket Breaks Down

Herman has worked his junior signal caller to the point where taking off is the absolute last option. Of course, when that option needs to be exercised Miller proved he can still do the ridiculous things that made him such a valued recruit coming out of H.S.

I'll just leave this here.

Braxton Miller Making Things Happen When The Pocket Breaks Down

What's more, Miller is doing all of this without making mistakes. His 2 INTs rank him behind only Bryce Petty and Marcus Mariota on the list of passing efficiency leaders. Unfortunately our friends in the North can't say the same.

Miller is now a complete quarterback, and it’s never been more evident. Fans thought they’d seen his best game against Wisconsin, then Iowa and now Penn State. The truth is, his best is yet to come.

[Photo: Kirk Irwin Photography]

50 Comments

Comments

Danify's picture

What's sad (Penn State side) and great for Ohio State is on the 36 yard pass to Devin Smith Carlos Hyde was wide open too.

CALPOPPY's picture

Hyde must have been the checkdown on that play (that Meyer was mentioning at the presser- although he obviously hit the right receiver on that play). With his momentum, and a blocker, he likely could have taken that to the house as well.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

AndyVance's picture

I say, let the good times roll.

BTwrestle04's picture

I saw glimpses of Troy Smith on Saturday night.

Kevdaddy8's picture

Didn't Braxton say that Troy was his favorite college player?  I wonder what kind of relationship the two of them have...especiallly when Troy is on campus?

Maestro's picture

I felt that way after the Iowa game as well.

vacuuming sucks

CC's picture

I hadn't connected the two, but you're dead on.  Amazingly I feel like this offense has even more upside.

Seattle Linga's picture

Let's enjoy the ride while it's unfolding in front of our eyes. It's only the beginning.

dwcbuckeye's picture

If we can get another good OL together next year, it is going to be really fun to watch this kid continue to develop.  Really excited about his progress.  Proud of his work ethic as well

ChazBuckeye's picture

He's definitely getting better as a throwing QB.  Staying in the pocket and hitting the open WR.  Good things.  Hopefully he keeps it going this weekend.  Something tells me he will;-)

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

Blue Eyed Buckeye's picture

Braxton's biggest problem in his first 2 years was holding the ball for five, six, seven seconds until something bad happened.
This year he's developed that mental clock where after 3 seconds the alarm goes off in his head to step up in the pocket and throw the ball or take off running.  That development is huge because it's turned a weakness into a strength.

MassiveAttack's picture

The offensive line has grown leaps and bounds since his Freshman year.  Unfortunately I don't expect the same superior performance from the line next year.

Knarcisi's picture

His biggest problem his first 2 years was having Nick Siciliano as his QB coach for one of them.

d5k's picture

And it's not only when to step up, but what direction to step up.  He would often slide right into a sack his first 2 years.  Whitfield puts heavy focus on this aspect of pocket presence and it's obviously something Braxton worked heavily on.  He uses his peripheral vision to see the space that he can step up in and that first movement is critical.

NitroBuck's picture

Great point...I would up vote it if I could.

Ferio.  Tego.

Cusbuck's picture

I'll put you there.

I'm not saying,  I'm just saying.

NitroBuck's picture

And now...I can.  Thanks!

Ferio.  Tego.

Hovenaut's picture

IIRC, his first completion Saturday night was a checkdown to Carlos on a swing. Penn State was able to keep some heat on him and he still threw with authority.

To start the year I first noticed his crisp, effortless long passes. Since he's come back, starting with the Iowa game, he's been a real surgeon out there.

It's cool he can still dazzle with the feet, but he's winning me all over again with what he's doing through the air.

I am not very smart, but I recognize that I am not very smart.

Squirrel Master's picture

great surgeon comment. These last few games he has been really good at hitting the check downs, going through progressions and even making the smart throws over the ones we all know he "could" make.
I do think the biggest difference from last year and this year is his ability to take what the defense is giving him instead of relying on his uber talents to get all or nothing.

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

USMC11917's picture

I am utterly elated to have this kid represent our team. He is a fantastic football player and doesn't do or say things off of the field to bring discredit to the University. Thank you Braxton! 

Squirrel Master's picture

I think Braxton is better than Johnny Manziel.
Let me lay it out: Braxton has the bigger arm. Manziel is an undersized 6'1'' 210. I really don't think he is even that big and even if he is, still plays smaller (I believe some players are bigger or smaller than their size. i.e. Bridgewater plays bigger than his 6'3'' frame and same with Russell Wilson). Even though Johnny can wing it, he struggles more than Braxton does on deeper throws. He throws unnaturally like he needs to put as much as he can on it. Looks like he has to work harder. It might be because many times he throws after a scramble and doesn't have his feet set, or off his back foot. But I see Braxton's arm as a rocket. He can throw the ball into tight spaces as long as he remains accurate, which I think he is very accurate right now. Braxton is also a solid 6'2'' 215. His height might be a bit below 6'2'' but he is every bit of that 215 if not more. Have you noticed he is a much more solid QB this year than last. He is very durable now and even avoids those hits that gave him the "injured" label. I'm not as scared with him on the move as like last year. I think he can take a good lick. Manziel has been lucky, he is so quick that an opponent hasn't had a chance to really light him up.
Yes Braxton doesn't throw for 400+ like Manziel does but that is my second point. As much as I like OSU WR and the weapons they have, Braxton doesn't have Mike Evans! I really think Mike Evans helps cover up some of the looser throws by Manziel. If it wasn't for Mike Evans, I think Manziel would be throwing for 300+ instead of 400+. Still a very good QB but not at the "heisman" worthy numbers that he is accumulating this year. Braxton has Hyde, he doesn't help Braxton with his stats, he actually steals some.
and lastly is mistakes. I think Braxton, possibly because he is playing in a better offensive scheme, is less mistake prone. As noted above, Braxton has a total of 2 INT. So far Manziel has 8 and 4 of them were in his teams two loses. (and I hope people understand that gaudy stats can only go so far, the heisman should be about players who are doing what Watson and Mariota are doing. Not hurting their teams).
I'm not saying Manziel isn't a good QB. I think he will get highly drafted and will be a starter for an NFL team. AND, I'm not saying Braxton is a heisman QB this year.
BUT, I think Braxton is still very underrated, especially with his improvements in his passing, and Manziel is slightly overrated.
Braxton does every bit of what Manziel does on the field, but he is less of controlled chaos like Manziel and more of a refined product that still has so much more potential going forward. I see Manziel as an undersized NFL QB, I see Braxton as a player teams want to build their teams around. Not only is he growing at a very fast rate as a passer, but he is easily the most dynamic runner of all the QBs. Throw in the fact that he is a leader, quiet and respectful person off the field who doesn't get into trouble and he is a practice and film junkie.
If Braxton came out for the NFL today, I think he would be ready to be a starter much like RG3 and Russell Wilson. Will he? I don't think so but the season isn't over yet and Braxton has just begun to show us all what he has cooked up for the finish.
Between Hyde and Braxton, this offense is clicking and I think is more dangerous than Alabama and possibly just as dangerous as Oregon and FSU. Maybe Baylor but that team is just ridiculous!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

Toilrt Paper's picture

Manziel is 5-11. For TA&M doubters I dare him to stand next to Braxton.  AND saying he is 210 is an even bigger joke, when Braxton is 220. He will never go to the NFL Combine and be weighed and measured.

NitroBuck's picture

I believe you can round up Manziel's height to 6-1...in cleats...on concrete...with his helmet on.

Ferio.  Tego.

Alice in Aggieland's picture

I call bullshit on the 6'1 listing for Johnny Foosball. Manziel is 5'11 tops.
But other than that, I salute this post, especially re: Mike Evans. Manziel throws an ugly ball, but a 6'5 WR with sticky fingers disguises a whole host of mechanical sins.

AngryWoody's picture

I agree with you about Manziel. If Johnny leaves after his junior year he and Braxton will go into the draft the same year and it will be cool to see who ends up getting picked first.

Our Honor Defend!

d5k's picture

I love what Braxton is doing but I would say Braxton has had 3 games (Wisconsin, Iowa, PSU) on the level of what Manziel has done for pretty much his whole college career.  I definitely agree Braxton has more upside and we are starting to see it, but Manziel has been the better college player to this point.

ogama843's picture

Agree, but Braxton is undefeated the past two years. Not sayin he deserves some glorified award, but i'll take wins over a Heisman any day. Keep steady Braxton. Keep steady.

Holy Buckeye!

Jack Fu's picture

I love Braxton. Manziel seems like a douchbag. That being said, there is no tangible justification for saying that Braxton is better right now. Manziel is 3rd in the country in total offense right now (386 yards per game). Braxton is 45th (247 per). Manziel's had 500 yards of offense in a single game five different times, in a 20-game collegiate career. Braxton's never put up 400 yards in a single game.
I love Braxton. He's awesome. But Manziel produces more. He can't help that his defense is terrible.

Toilrt Paper's picture

AND Braxton's best play against PSU was throwing the ball away after he was flushed and there was no one open and no where to run.  
His 2nd best play of the game was his guided missile pass to Philly on the last play of the 1st half. A 30 yard perfect spiral that never got more than 7 feet off the ground. It was thrown so hard I didn't think even Philly would be able to catch it. There was a DB no more than a foot away from Philly, but the ball was thrown so hard he was unable to react to it. I don't think I've even seen a harder thrown pass. On top of all of Braxton's natural abilities and QB learned qualities, he has a GUN.

45OH4IO's picture

I had some distractions during the game, so wasn't able to pay attention to closely. But, is it safe to assume Braxton is getting better at reading progressions and hitting the right guy? If so, that is the final piece to the development puzzle.

buckeyes33's picture

Braxton is hitting stride during the most important stretch of the season. Kudos to the coaching staff for preparing him for what could be a very historic finale. Forget Heismans, comparisons to other greats, let's just keep winning, and playing one week at a time. Go Bucks!

Doc's picture

I'm not bitching here.  I want to ask a legitimate question.  Over the last two or three games we haven't seen the deep bomb.  Do you think it is more game plan, time for the play to develop, or what.  I have always thought that was Braxton's biggest weapon and over the last few games it has seemed to disappear.
Braxton is growing up in front of our eyes.  Saturday night was damn scary to watch.  Scary good that is.

"Say my name."

Fugelere's picture

Opposing defenses are game planning to take away that aspect of our offense.  Probably why you're seeing Brax hitting his check downs more often.

BuckTheWorld's picture

I disagree. Do you think defenses are playing the deep threat or 300 yards rushing per game. They are playing the run and the intermittent routes. Fortunately for us, we are hitting on both. I'm not sure why, but I know it's not because there are two deep, because their aren't. 

An Angry Fan

d5k's picture

The corners aren't letting Devin Smith and company get deep but they are still trying to load the box to stop the run.  We are taking what they are giving us.  Watch how many defenders are at the point of attack on our quick passes (hint: not that many).

Fugelere's picture

I think that would depend on if I can can score on our D or not.  If I'm an opposing coach do I want to allow the Buckeyes to run the ball and keep it out of the hands of my offense?  Or do I play against  it and force Brax to complete the deep bomb with the belief that my team can stop it and if we cannot then maybe we can win a shoot-out?
You are correct that the defenses we have been facing are cheating to stop the run which is why we have been successful on play action and flash/bubble screens, swings and  quick hitches on the outside.
I just don't believe that it's possible to defend deep, intermediate and the run game simultaneously . Which is why we've seen this offense do  what it has done the last two games.
 
 
 

d5k's picture

Ding ding, since Wisconsin teams have tried to take away our base run game AND the deep ball leaving the underneath flats and other intermediate throws open.  We didn't have the right game plan for this defensive scheme really until after the bye week.  We made some adjustments in the second half vs. Northwestern but now the coaches and Braxton really have an idea of how to attack these heavy box but deep drop defenses on first down.  We have been throwing to set up the run and running Hyde outside a little more than we did in the past.

Boxley's picture

He threw several long passes in the PSU game, but only one you could call a deep bomb, and he over threw that one. We really did not need a deep bomb against PSU. I mean we rang up 63 points and easily could have broke 70, the long bomb was not needed.
The Iowa game their D-line gave enough pressure that we needed the quick release, so that is what he threw. In a big game early if the D is not pressuring him (or cannot) he will go long on them eventually. But those long bombs are very low percentage success wise, so he is staying in short to medium mode, as that is all that is needed to score.

"...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

nw_ohio_Buckeye's picture

Teams are trying to take the deep ball away. Look how far off PSU was playing our receivers at times. When that happens you have to take what the defense gives you...and we did. That said, Brax did throw deep several times. missing Philly in the end zone once and down the sideline right before half. He also attempted to throw deep to Fields once along the far sideline. Didn't complete any but attempted longer throws, imo.

"The minute I think I'm getting mellow, I'm retiring. Who ever heard of a mellow winner?" ~ Woody Hayes 

Maestro's picture

Does a ceiling grow or rise?

vacuuming sucks

RedsBuckeyeBoy's picture

I have to imagine that there are some defensive players around the B1G thinking that they should have pursued a scholarship in another sport.  

Doc's picture

"They'll be going pro in something other than football."  NCAA

"Say my name."

Deadly Nuts's picture

Miller has mad skills!
Like this guy:

LEBRON

rosycheeks's picture

I didn't notice it in realtime, but check out the massive hold by Decker on Braxton's run. Good subtle tugs, Taylor!

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

The truth is, his best is yet to come.

I'm totally on board with each game becoming his best....

Adolphus Washington is half grizzly bear and half dragon | Noah Spence kills quarterbacks, just to watch them die.

GOOMBAY's picture

Prior to this season, my recollection of his passing was mostly along the lines of the Wisconsin Hail Mary, the game winner against Cal, and the first deep ball against Michigan last season. A lot of held breath.
The past few games have looked like a 7 on 7 drill, with each pass and set of routes leaving gawking and befuddled DBs all over the place. An expanding play book and a ridiculous stable of skill players deserve plenty of credit, but he is pulling the strings with increasing precision and confidence. The results truly a pleasure to watch.

pjtobin's picture

How did we get so lucky to have Xbrax and UFM ? They are like peas and carrots. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

buckskin's picture

The thing I noticed the most about Braxton against PSU was he was having fun. The smile and imaginary six shooters showed genuine enjoyment on the field; and isn't that what's it all about?  Guys play better when the are having a good time.  He was way more calm and had a good bit of composure also.  When he scrambled, he kept his head up, didn't tuck right away, and made some good throws on the run.   

ejoceans's picture

I feel like that Evens guy for A&M MAKES JF! No doubt in my mind that if you switch JF and Braxton that Braxton would look just as good at A&M because of the receivers that JF has.  Not saying that OSU has bad receivers just that they are not at the same level as A&M yet.(Getting there)  I also think JF will not make a good PRO QB at all.  But Im not a scout so what do I know? lol Take care everyone and I was at the game Saturday and had a blast!!! Took my boy(PSU fan) and he got busted at the gate trying to sneak in a bottle of captain!! hahahaha I said it was cause he was wearing psu crap and I was wear OSU gear and didn't get busted! good stuff! Bye yall

Lets do this Brutus