Braxton Miller's Done Everything at Ohio State Except win a Championship

By Kyle Rowland on August 6, 2014 at 8:15a
Braxton Miller is down to one more season at Ohio State.
38 Comments

Braxton Miller has a closet full of personal hardware. Two Silver Footballs, multiple Big Ten offensive player of the year trophies, Ohio State team MVP. The awards go on and on. What he doesn’t have is a Big Ten championship – or a bowl victory of any kind.

The senior quarterback’s legacy is on firm footing. But there are still some aspects to be determined. He was flashy, productive and won games. Championships, though? That will be decided in December and onward.

“He went 12-0, but he needs a championship. I think most great players are measured by championships, whether it be the NFL, NBA or college football,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said Monday. “And he knows that. You don’t have to have much of a conversation with him about that. He’s a very-intelligent guy, and he gets it.”

The spotlight has burned brightly on Miller since he was a can’t-miss recruit in football-mad Ohio. During his courtship, Meyer’s Florida Gators became one of the leaders for Miller’s services. Ultimately, he stayed home to play for the Buckeyes. A few months later, Meyer resigned from his post in Gainesville. 

It just so happens Meyer was working for ESPN when Miller made his debut for the Buckeyes. Meyer didn’t hide his feelings that afternoon in 2011. Ohio State beat an overmatched Akron team 42-0 in what would be a losing season. Miller finished 8-of-12 passing for 130 yards with a touchdown pass against the Zips.

“A lot of anxious people in Buckeye Nation are ready to watch this guy play,” Meyer said during the ESPN broadcast. “Dynamic player coming out of high school. I remember recruiting him myself. He was dynamic with the ball in his hands. [He was] one of the best athletes in the country last year.

“There’s no sense in waiting on this one. Let the guy play. Find out what he can do.”

In a losing season – the Buckeyes finished 6-7 – Miller became the focal point of the future. Through the mounting losses and frustrating play, it was Miller who provided hope for better days. And he’s delivered.

As a true freshman, Miller completed 54 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns four interceptions. His completion percentage has gone from 58 percent as a sophomore to 63.5 percent as a junior. Miller threw for more than 2,000 yards both seasons and combined for 39 touchdowns against just 13 interceptions. In the past two seasons, Miller is 22-2 as the starter – 26-8 in his career.

“It’s been up and down,” Miller said. “We’re going to be remembered as a champion this year, though.”

The confidence is admirable, and it isn’t foolish. Despite deep loses on the offensive line and in the backfield, Ohio State’s offense isn’t expected to take a big step back. The passing game is an area that’s poised to rise, thanks to Miller’s continuing progression and a veteran receiving corps. After offseason shoulder surgery, Miller’s back to 100 percent.

“The volume is what we have to be aware of,” Meyer said. “He wasn’t as sharp [Monday]. When he got a little bit tired, he started raising his left shoulder a little bit, but he’ll be fine. His attitude is tremendous, and he’s in the best shape of his life.”

The burden of expectations has never fazed Miller. He was calm when he started as a freshman and he was never flustered after Ohio State fell behind by 17 points in the Big Ten Championship Game. Experience at Division I high school readied Miller for what he would face up the road in Columbus.

It’s always a win-every-game mentality for the Buckeyes, so Miller isn’t tasked with a new outlook on 2014. It just happens to be now or never. If he builds on last season, a year he was tops in the Big Ten in numerous passing categories, Ohio State could be in line for another undefeated regular season.

“I think it’s our time coming,” Miller said. “I think this year we’ve got a grasp as a whole team. We understand what we’re doing to reach a high peak.”

At the top of Ohio State’s quarterback mountain sits Rex Kern and Craig Krenzel, two national champions. Troy Smith is a notch lower, but still one of the most beloved players in program history. Miller has an opportunity to reach the apex. Not only could he rewrite the Ohio State record book; Miller is presented with a chance to combine all his personal triumphs into a team-earned championship.

“I’ve met a couple of my goals,” Miller said, “but I still have a lot that sit on the table that I've got to scoop up. I have to make sure we’re going to do it this year.”

The first series of Miller’s career was uneventful, resulting in a three-and out and featuring a poor third-down snap by Mike Brewster. That didn’t mean glimpses of stutter steps and long touchdown passes were absent.

As Miller trotted back to the sideline, former Buckeye Chris Spielman, calling the game alongside Meyer for ESPN, said, “I can promise you this: there will be much more exciting series in Braxton Miller’s future.”

But will there be a championship?  

38 Comments

Comments

2morrow's picture

Hope he gets the BIG and National Championships this year - but would much rather see him do it less with personal stats and more by utilizing the rest of the guys at his disposal. He is also at a bit of a disadvantage - most people have 3 or 4 years to do this. He may have had the NC had we not imposed a bowl ban. His first year was a throw away almost and second year under an interim.

+4 HS
VarsityClubMD's picture

would much rather see him do it less with personal stats and more by utilizing the rest of the guys at his disposal. 

I totally agree with this. Although I think this has been more a function of play calling than Braxton's own doing.  With Kenny at the helm we saw an almost impossible to defend diversity of play calling every, or almost every, weapon in play.  When Braxton was in, the defense's focus could narrow almost exclusively on him and Carlos. Herman has to break his case of "Braxton Fever" when play calling. IMO, of course.

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+12 HS
CC's picture

Well put, I couldn't agree more.

JohnnyKozmo's picture

Agree somewhat, however, I think it also showed Braxtons need for improvement in the passing game.  While he is a superior athlete to Kenny G, I think Kenny was ahead of him in terms of reading defenses and making the reads quickly, decisively, and letting it rip.  Kenny threw a lot of receivers open.

+12 HS
VarsityClubMD's picture

While he is a superior athlete to Kenny G, I think Kenny was ahead of him in terms of reading defenses and making the reads quickly, decisively, and letting it rip. 

I agree 100% with this.

Dot this

+4 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Agree somewhat, however, I think it also showed Braxtons need for improvement in the passing game.  While he is a superior athlete to Kenny G, I think Kenny was ahead of him in terms of reading defenses and making the reads quickly, decisively, and letting it rip.  Kenny threw a lot of receivers open.

It was against the defenses of San Diego, Cal, and FAMU.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

+1 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

San Diego St. - 53rd total D, 98th against the pass

Cal - 122nd (next to last) and 123rd (dead last)

FAMU - FCS School

Not quite murderer's row to be sure. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Kenny G, but I think Brax is undervalued by far too many Buckeye fans. There's a reason that he's won back to back B1G MVPs.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+1 HS
VarsityClubMD's picture

It was against the defenses of San Diego, Cal, and FAMU.

As opposed to Purdue, Illinois, and Indiana...

I think we can safely assume that Kenny would have eaten them up, too.  Same with PSU.

I am not saying that Kenny is/was a better athlete than Braxton or that Kenny should have started in place of Braxton, my point is entirely about the differences in play calling and that when push came to shove in games that mattered against quality opponents, their defenses had to, in effect, concentrate on two guys, Braxton and Carlos, whereas when they were calling plays for Kenny, every weapon available was in play, and this was just not the case with the Braxton/Carlos-centric play calling. And,tOSU defensive woes notwithstanding, I think we would have seen even more blowouts with Braxton at QB if the same offensive play calling philosophy had carried over.

Dot this

+1 HS
BuckeyeBBD's picture

Absolutely. Last year he threw for 2094 yards and rushed for 1068. I would much rather se Braxton throw closer to 3000 yards and keep his ground game well under 1000 yards this season, maybe closer to 500.  Heuerman will be an excellent target for play action (probably the best TE in the nation this season) and with Dontre in the slot, Herman's spread game won't need to change much to really take off with the passing game.  Especially with guys like Devin Smith and Even Spencer returning, Braxton will have plenty of quality targets.  Above all else I just want Braxton to stay healthy. Please, please stay healthy.

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." - Wayne Woodrow Hayes

+1 HS
Mortc15's picture

Just an FYI, if by interim you mean Fickell, that was also his freshman "throw away" season, as Meyer is beginning his 3rd year, Soph-senior seasons for Braxton. 

Buck-I4Life

+2 HS
Tater_Schroeder's picture

“It’s been up and down,” Miller said. “We’re going to be remembered as a champion this year, though.”

I love the attitude. Go to work Braxton! 

How Firm Thy Friendship

+3 HS
Hovenaut's picture

If the defense is stronger where they haven't been, and the entire offense can function effectively as a unit throughout, I think Ohio State notches December and January wins.

The one-two punch of Miller and Hyde can't be replaced, but I'm thinking maybe it shouldn't. There are enough backs to carry the load, and while Braxton shouldn't be held back from running, he shouldn't be relied upon as heavily this season to minimize risk.

I hope his best results come from his decision making, distributing the ball and running an efficient offense.

It's going to be a great year.

+9 HS
CC's picture

The one-two punch of Miller and Hyde can't be replaced, but I'm thinking maybe it shouldn't

I think that's the point.  There are guys all over who can make plays, if we force other teams to defend 6 skill players rather than 3 (Brax, Hyde, Brown) it will open it up more for Brax and EzE later in the games.

+2 HS
Barnsey69's picture

Quick addition, and they can always bring in Rod Smith, W Ball or EZ when we need a few hard yards or even...a 4th & 2.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+1 HS
Hovenaut's picture

I'm all for being prepared, but I'll manage if Ohio State doesn't encounter a 4th and 2 with the season on the line this year.

+3 HS
Barnsey69's picture

Amen brother! 

But if they do...let's try the meat instead of the potatoes this time.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+3 HS
ibuck's picture

I'll manage if Ohio State doesn't encounter a 4th and 2 with the season on the line this year.

Buckeye offense needs to be better on 3rd down conversions this year, particularly vs better defenses. Then 4th and short will be rare. And they do this by utilizing more playmakers and less-lengthy, touch passes that receivers hang on to.

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

+1 HS
GH_Lindsey's picture

Honestly, I think the one-two punch worked against us at times last year. Because it was so effective toward the end of the season, there was never much reason to execute the simple passes that get you 5-10 yards. The problem with that, however, was that Brax was essentially throwing cold when he was asked to convert third and longs or make other important plays through the air. I hope this season we have a better run/pass balance that will Braxton's arm involved throughout games so he can build a rhythym and sustain it  into those pays where we have to be throwing

Barnsey69's picture

Hove is correct, the one-two punch of Miller-Hyde cannot be replaced, nor should it be. It is time to open up the offense and let the speed loose on our hapless opponents. Meyer has not been able to unleash a fully-loaded spread offense, with the right type of play-makers at all the positions until this season. And that includes his type of hell-bent, all-out defense too.

I cannot wait to see it go, and Braxton is the catalyst. if he can drive this Ferrari, then we are going to enjoy some major success this season.

GO BUCKS!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+5 HS
Poison nuts's picture

I remember watching the Akron game & hearing UFM saying over & over "why isn't that kid wearing a headset? He needs to learn as much as he can & now!" I said to myself & actually, to my wife as well - "Urban Meyer will be the next HC at OSU." You could just tell he was dying to get out there on the field & tell someone to get the headset on Braxton. Look at them both now...Special year on deck...cannonball coming...

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

+3 HS
Tampabuckeye85's picture

It will happen. This year feels different from all the others years. We would have won in 2012 if not for the ban. I think this is a much better team from a pure skill stand point. I think Braxton takes that next step and is finally seen as a Qb. I don't really agree with that view though. Yes Miller has had some bad throws and what not but as I mentioned in an earlier post, his completion % was the same as Mariota. Most if not all consider him the most NFL ready.

+3 HS
nikolajz1's picture

People dont consider Braxton NFL ready at all. He grades out into the 4th or 5th round because he cant throw anything except screens and the long ball. 

+1 HS
DoubleB's picture

I agree, if Braxton was the most NFL ready he'd probably be in an NFL camp right now.

I was tired of trying to work my way around the back, so I just ran him over.
-Joey Bosa

-1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

I believe ya'll misinterpreted what the poster said, he was saying Braxton's completion percentage was comparable to Mariotta's, who most people thought was one of the most NFL ready QBs. He wasn't saying most people thought Braxton was the most NFL ready.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

SHAWNEE_FOREST_BUCKEYE's picture

~~At the top of Ohio State’s quarterback mountain sits Rex Kern and Craig Krenzel, two national champions. Troy Smith is a notch lower, but still one of the most beloved players in program history.

I would have to disagree with that.

The 12-0 season was magical but Miller leaving Columbus without even a B1G Championship during the B1G dark times would damage his OSU legacy. I think the Buckeyes get it done this year though. 

+4 HS
droessl's picture

Love the fact that Krenzel brought the crystal football to Columbus, but I'm not putting him above Troy. 

+4 HS
DoubleB's picture

Put Joe Germaine near the top of that list as well. Always one of my favorites.

I was tired of trying to work my way around the back, so I just ran him over.
-Joey Bosa

droessl's picture

that drive in the Rose Bowl... an undersized Joe Germaine and David "Batista" Boston made for one hell of a tandem

+1 HS
73buckeye's picture

Whether Braxton Miller reaches his goal or not depends almost exclusively on the defensive side's performance. It's unrealistic to think the offense can simply outscore every opponent. Defense wins championships. 

ernie

BAR43's picture

I would agree that the defense is a big part in how we will do this year, specifically the secondary. However, with a new OL, and new RB, I think it is just as important to see Miller progress to using all his weapons rather than rely on his own feet. To put it simply, if Miller plays the same as last year and we rely on his feet just as much, we will not win a NC, let alone a B1G championship. Miller cannot handle the ware and tear of the amount of running he did last year, and we don't need him to. We have great RBs and Hybrid players that can make those impacts. We need Miller to be commander and executer in getting the ball into others hands. Of course we will need his finesse and quickness from time to time, but we cannot rely on it if we want to win it all this year.

+1 HS
Buckeye Chuck's picture

I wouldn't use the word "exclusively," but I agree that Miller can't be held accountable for the side of the ball that he doesn't play on. Mistakes aside, the Buckeye offense was good enough against Clemson that it should have been more than enough to win the Orange Bowl. 

The first time I see the Buckeyes line up in the empty backfield on third-and-short and Miller throws the ball, I'm going to cheer, even if the pass is incomplete. Other teams need to respect as a threat.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

bleedscarlet's picture

Miller's attitude this preseason reminds me of the cat that ate the canary, like he's got a secret and he's just dying to tell it....

I'm too drunk to taste this chicken

+3 HS
Tampabuckeye85's picture

I was talking about Mariota when saying most think he is the most NFL ready.

+1 HS
OSUBias's picture

Hats off to Kyle for continuing to post quality content when he could easily mail it in on his last week. Thanks for all of the great articles!

Shitter's full

+1 HS
Barnsey69's picture

Definitely, but I would expect nothing less from Mr. Rowland. He is a consumate professional as well as a 11W for life!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I think the Buckeyes definitely get a Big Ten championship.  Now as far as the national championship, well, that's hard to say.  I'd like to think this team can do it, but we shall see.  And nobody on this team should even think about the national championship until after the Big Ten championship game.  I remember seeing a quote about the team eyeing that crystal football too early last year - get the Big Ten championship, because without that, this team will almost certainly not get an opportunity to go for the national championship.  And of course, this team theoretically could win the Big Ten but still not get in the playoff if there is a loss or two along the way.  Depends on the committee and how much weight they put on winning a conference championship.

Class of 2010.

JakeStevensIsSwag's picture

When else could a championship come? its his last year..

Buckeye fan from PA

BuckInNashville's picture

There's no doubt that the play calling focused on the tight zone read with Braxton or Carlos toting the ball. Heuerman could have seen 10 touches a game like Jimmy Graham.  If all the preseason talk is for real, Braxton will benefit from a diversified offense featuring about 5 guys who can run 4.3