Florida Focused on Containing Miller

Statistics don't tell the story of the Ohio State offense. The numbers are actually less impressive than the sputtering Florida offense. However, the Buckeyes got a boost when Braxton Miller took over under center. The true freshman quarterback provides a running threat with the ball, as well as improving passing skills that will keep the Gators honest in Monday's Gator Bowl.

"They have a really effective run game," Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "When you add the quarterback runs into it, it adds a whole other element to the run game. For us, it's going to be very important to take care of the edges. Even on some drop back passes, there are going to be times where he can create and get outside of the pocket. He provides challenges."

With all of its struggles this season, the Florida offense finished the regular season ranked 101st in the country, averaging 334.2 yards per game. For as bad as Florida looked with the ball all season, the Ohio State offense was actually worse. The Buckeyes ended the year 107th in the country, averaging 319.8 yards per game.

Joe Bauserman started the season as the quarterback at Ohio State, but after the offense struggled to move the ball, Buckeyes head coach Luke Fickell decided to give the ball to his freshman. Miller had the advantage with his upside, but his dual-threat ability has helped the Ohio State offense move the ball better.

"You certainly see the athletic ability and big plays coming out," Quinn said of watching film on Miller. "I don't know if I've seen improvement because when he first came on the scene, I thought this was a really talented guy."

The best comparison Quinn could make to any quarterback Florida has played this season is Florida State's E.J. Manuel. However, Manuel's athleticism doesn't match what Miller can do with the ball in his hands. He's a threat to take the ball to the end zone any time he can get into open space.

That comes from his ability to make defenders miss. His level of moves and lateral quickness is usually reserved for wide receivers or running backs, but Miller's ability to throw the ball makes him a difficult challenge for a young Florida defense.

"At the running back spot you see (Miller's level of athleticism), but when you add that element at the quarterback spot, that's where you know this guy has something to him," Quinn said. "It's like having an athletic, shifty running back who can also drop back and pass it."

Quarterbacks like Georgia's Aaron Murray and South Carolina's Connor Shaw don't scare opposing defenses primarily because of their running ability, but they've still had success on the ground against the Gators.

Miller's running ability will be Florida's focus for Monday's Gator Bowl, but Quinn knows there are chances the Buckeyes will break out formations and plays that they didn't show on film this season. Florida head coach Will Muschamp hinted on Tuesday that the Gators could use different looks on offense after they've had weeks to prepare for the bowl, and the Florida staff knows there's a chance that Ohio State could use different formations of their own.

"We know as coaches that, when we all have too much time, it happens," Quinn said about changes offenses make during bowl practices. "We recognize that and have talked to the team about it. Are there going to be some things that come up in this ball game that they have not shown on tape? You bet there is. For us, we'll just play the rules of the defense and the call, and we'll adjust from there.

"With all coaches, when you're coming off a bye week, going into bowl preparation or coming out of training camp-- when all of us have too much time, there's generally that effect."

Quinn said the first quarter is usually when teams break out their "new wrinkles and new formations," calling the first quarter usually "a scramble" for the coaches on the defensive staff once they identify what the opponent's are doing.

The Ohio State offense showed plenty of changes as the season went on. Bauserman didn't run well, and when Miller showed what he could do with the ball in his hands, the Ohio State offense started to feature his legs more.

"It's the second half of the year," Quinn said about the film that Florida has watched. "That's the games that we focused a lot of our attention to. They're some talented teams in tight ball games with Wisconsin and Michigan that were hard fought games with good play calls and leaving it on the line. Those are the ones that jumped out to us."

Part of the reason the Ohio State offense showed improvement at the end of the season was the return of wide receiver DeVier Posey. He only played two games to end the regular season after two five-game suspensions for improper benefits received.

Posey caught four passes for 66 yards against Penn State and three passes for 58 yards and a touchdown against Michigan, providing a deep threat for the Ohio State offense.

"It's something you have to recognize," Quinn said. "He's a live guy outside. You have to have your attention. He's a threat for them. I still see them as a running team first, but anytime you're a running team and add a real threat outside, you can take some shots down the field. Those are the things we've prepared more for."


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