Braxton Miller Never Stops Learning

By Kyle Rowland on March 6, 2014 at 9:15a

Barbara J. Perenic, Columbus Dispatch

21 Comments

Urban Meyer stood at midfield in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center donning a baseball cap, hiding a long scar and any evidence from his weekend brain surgery. Nearby was Ohio State’s game-breaking quarterback Braxton Miller, who was wearing a sling on his throwing arm, the evidence from arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

That one image, combined with the Buckeyes’ consecutive losses to end that season, doesn’t inspire hope. But coach and quarterback are slated to be 100 percent come August, and Miller could learn more than ever while not taking a single snap this spring. It’ll be filled with observing the offense live, pouring over video and discussions with Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman.

“I think he understands his weaknesses,” Meyer said. “That’s verbal and keeping his eyes on the secondary."

Hurry-up offenses, flashy uniforms and recruiting via social media aren’t the only pieces of college football’s new, sleeker age. The latest device to attract attention is a quarterback camera Ohio State’s using. It simply attaches to their head and is accompanied with a microphone.

Miller wore one on Tuesday and will do so throughout spring practices, allowing him to call plays, see defensive coverages, spot any mix-ups and communicate with fellow signal callers and coaches.

“The issue a year ago was fundamentals: footwork, balance, ball control,” Meyer said. “His issues now are verbal communication and keeping the eyes on the secondary. Every play, we’re having him say what he sees. It will be a productive spring.”

Even though he won’t participate in drills, Miller has a checklist to complete this spring. There are mechanical issues, as well as preparation items of which film study is the top priority. As a soon-to-be four-year starter, Miller’s reached the point in his career where reading defenses and translating the spread offense should be come without much thought.

He’s also determined to become a better leader. Miller’s first three seasons haven’t included a major leadership role. But that will change as the offensive line undergoes an overhaul and running back Carlos Hyde moves on to the NFL.

For Miller, spring is all about the mental part of football.

“He still can get a whole lot better [mentally],” Herman said. “He can probably make that same leap this year and still have work to do – just the constant studying of the game, studying of defenses and the studying of our plays now that we’ve kind of done the same thing for two years in a row. He’s getting to that point where all that stuff is slowing down and he needs to stay on that path.”

While accepting his second Big Ten Silver Football award, Miller acknowledged that he needs to become more polished in the pocket, improve “from the shoulders up” and develop leadership qualities. The need to get better always exists. But it sounds humorous when one considers all Miller’s accomplished in three seasons. The lack of even a conference championship and his late-season dive last year is all the justification one needs.

“If he doesn’t have a good summer, it will cost him a lot. He’ll be a very average player.”– Urban Meyer

If anyone watched the Orange Bowl, they witnessed a scarlet-clad quarterback under duress much of the night. Miller took several punishing hits with the cumulative effect causing his need for surgery. As he ran for daylight, Miller’s ability to read defenses vanished, contributing to multiple interceptions.

Meyer wants his quarterback to get his head up and eyes downfield in the future. It’s easier said than done when a mounting rush comes straight at you.

“That’s why there’s a lot of average quarterbacks out there,” Meyer said. “You have to be a tough nut to stand back there, have a pass rush coming at you and keep your eyes down the field. That’s typical of every quarterback I’ve been around. You have to fight your way through that.”

Fundamentals and football IQ all tie into the on-field process. If a quarterback knows what he and others are doing, the offensive flow is smoother. When breakdowns occur, it becomes contagious with tentacles reaching out to each part of the offense. 

Miller returned to college to rid his game of those deficiencies. Learning every day has provided a sense of urgency and expanded Miller’s growing knowledge of the game.

“I don’t know if you can learn too much and not be the best,” Miller said. “You have to put in the effort and the time to get better every day. So I feel like I’m going to improve.”

The figure who’s been a constant force in Miller’s evolution from skilled athlete to quarterback is Herman. He counseled Miller on reading defenses, telling the quarterback it’s about repetition, not cramming. There’s no similarity in taking a test. Herman wants Miller to remember details for weeks and months, not days.

“I think he’s getting to that point where all that stuff is slowing down,” Herman said. “If you’ve ever stood back there and tried to make a decision in 1.9 seconds and see the things that he has to see and process that kind of information that fast, there’s a tremendous learning curve to that. Fundamentally, the more we keep attacking that side of it, the more consistent he’ll be, because he knows how to do that.”

From early March to mid-April, the lack of reps is not a detriment to Miller’s continued development. Thanks to futuristic technology, he should improve the areas measured by psychology.

Championships are won and lost during the months of May, June and July, the timeframe Meyer and Herman yearn for a blossoming Miller.

“If he doesn’t have a good summer, it will cost him a lot,” Meyer said. “He’ll be a very average player.”

21 Comments

Comments

Doc's picture

I'm hoping to see the passing game open up and become lethal.  Herman needs to rid himself of his offensive tendencies and truly open up the playbook and let the O become dangerous.  Braxton has the ability, he just needs the confidence.

"Say my name."

+9 HS
Killer nuts's picture

Dear Brax, 

Please be Troy Smith 2.0 this year.

Sincerely, 

Killer

+9 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

I want him to become Troy Krentzel 2.0 this year! A combination of the gaudy stats of Troy (heisman too) as well as winning it all like Craig did. I know it wasn't Troy's fault for that game but when it comes to looking good or winning it all, I prefer the latter.

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

+4 HS
buckeyestu's picture

I also hope to see this offense open up. There is a tremendous amount of talent to be used. Herman definitely needs to open things up. I also hope Braxton runs less this year, with all this talent available he should not have to run as much.

+1 HS
DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

I agree completely. I would like to see Braxton limit his runs to situations when we HAVE to have a big play. Obviously, to be successful we will need him to make big plays. But with the weapons he will have around him this year, I would like to see him distribute first, and second, look for the run as a 3rd option.

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.
"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

Hovenaut's picture

Pretty exciting to have a two-time B1G MVP coming back, and looking only to get better.

 

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
Barnsey69's picture

“If he doesn’t have a good summer, it will cost him a lot,” Meyer said. “He’ll be a very average player.”

This is what I love about Meyer, his honesty and candor, with staff, players and Buckeye Nation. If Brax doesn't get any better, he has only himself to blame, because Meyer & Herman are doing their part.

I am a modern-art masterpiece.

Barnsey69's picture

Oops sorry I made a much bolder statement than intended.

I am a modern-art masterpiece.

+2 HS
jedkat's picture

 

“The teams that don’t respect their coaches and don’t trust their coaches are the teams that go .500"
~Zach Boren

+7 HS
steveoz49's picture

I will say that if he stays at "average".... it's still pretty damn good!

+2 HS
Barnsey69's picture

To your point, he will have so many play-makers around him that, yes his "average" will look better than most.

I am a modern-art masterpiece.

Doc's picture

We're going to need better than "average" to beat Sparty and make it into the playoff.

"Say my name."

Ahh Saturday's picture

  Just a couple thoughts about Braxton's absence this spring.  First, I'm glad he'll be studying the game because his ability to make faster decisions will be a great help to an inexperienced OL.  However, one negative of not having the starting QB is the ripple effect on the rest of the squad.  WRs need to work out timing with the QB, and a brand new secondary will not be as tested as they could be if Braxton were back there throwing.

O-H-I-Owe-U's picture

It could be costly on some timing fronts, but this year's WRs must run better, more crisp routes. Having young QBs makes it even critical that they make sharp, explosive cuts.

Furious George 27's picture

Don't the QBs and WRs work out together during the summer w/out the coaches? If so, I am not too worried about them getting reps when he throws a 90mph pass on a 5yd slant. I always felt like his sack problems came when he sat back in the pocket too long maybe the blessing is that his mental game willl catch up to his physical abilities with this time off.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

+1 HS
dlb72osu's picture

Good article, good follow up comments.

Stu, if nothing else, the last two years have shown us that UFM and Hermann will only open the playbook as far as the talent allows. The players are all gifted athletes however we have seen some pretty bad decisions and ensuing mistakes from both sides of the ball and special teams.

B-69, no blame on what a player can or cannot absorb. The coaching staff has learned to call a game on where BM is in his development.

We all want perfection, every play, every game, every year. And yet, we all know it cannot happen. The best we can contribute is positive support...every play, every game, every year.

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
- Invictus

SilverState's picture

Interested in this camera device...would be cool to see what it looks like and the video it takes.

FitzBuck's picture

This is another part of the "clap count" that will be benifical.  We don't have to worry about different cadences or tone inflection causing a false start with new OL men that won't get work in with Braxton till fall.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Chark's picture

These past 3 years have been ones marked by an obvious desire to "not make mistakes". How often did we hear how explosive the offense would be, only to see a relatively simple game plan? Why, oh why were so many talented players redshirted last year when they could have helped with depth issues, especially on defense?

This year, Urban has said that he won't redshirt nearly as much this year. He also admitted that there can't be a fear of making mistakes among the players or the coaches. We have more explosive players at the skill positions. Let's release the Kraken this year and let the chips fall where they may. I can't wait! Go Bucks!

Why are there toilet paper ads? Exactly who is not buying it?

+1 HS
Youngbuck85's picture

Will there be any media coverage/ updates  for tonight's practice?