Miller Displays Confidence, Not Nerves

Freshman Braxton Miller completed only five of his 13 pass attempts Saturday against Colorado but impressed his teammates with added confidence in the huddle. The first-time starter threw for 83 yards and added 83 more on the ground to go with a pair to TD strikes to fellow freshman Devin Smith.

Freshman Braxton Miller slept well Friday night before making his first collegiate start at quarterback for the Ohio State football team. No nerves. No tossing and/or turning. He just waited to get on the Ohio Stadium turf.

"I talked to him last night and asked him if he was nervous," fellow freshman Devin Smith said. "He said he wasn't nervous at all. He was just ready for that game."

Miller displayed confidence in the huddle as the Buckeyes bounced back from an ugly showing at Miami (Fla.) in defeating Colorado 37-17. His passing line wasn't perfect, completing only five of 13 passes for 83 yards, but he added 83 rushing yards and threw two touchdown passes.

More important than his TD passes and total yards, however, was the big zero he put up in the box score that represented the number of turnovers Ohio State committed. Miller lost a fumble and threw an interception against the Hurricanes. He had no such troubles against the Buffaloes.

Sophomore guard Jack Mewhort said the fact that Miller started instead of coming in during the middle of the game was a benefit for the freshman.

"I think he was a little more confident coming out at the beginning, knowing he had a lot more responsibility," Mewhort said. "It was good to see him handle the pressure."

Senior center Michael Brewster saw a more comfortable Miller as well.

"Last week I'm sure was hard for him going back and forth," Brewster said. "He was probably afraid to make mistakes. I think (today) gave him some confidence and he'll be a heck of a player."

Miller pulled the down ball often in the first half, rushing 14 times before halftime. He appeared more comfortable after the break, only rushing three times. The Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne product said he often times ran the ball because of what the Colorado defense was giving him.

"As they run the defense, holes open up," Miller said. "And (if) nobody's open, I'm going to take off, get the yards because that's what my team needs."

He had some visible turf burns on his arms but said he was no worse for the wear. Senior fullback Zach Boren often blocked down field for Miller and was surprised by some of hits the freshman took.

"I think he did a great job of holding onto the football, taking the hits and getting right back up," Boren said.

"There were a couple of times when I was out front blocking for him and he got hit. I was like, ‘Dude, you got hit!' He got right back up, laughed about it and said, ‘I'm good. Let's get onto the next play. He's a tough kid."

Boren also noticed an added confidence in his new starting QB.

"He wasn't nervous at all," Boren said. "He was ready to come out and send a message. I think he did that. I knew he was going to come out confident today. He stepped up."

Smith was Miller's top target. The classmates connected on three passes, two going for touchdowns. The first came on a 28-yard strike in the second quarter and the duo added a 17-yard score in the third quarter.

Smith said he had a feeling he and Miller would play well.

"I dreamt about this last night," he said. "I was with him last night and I said, ‘Let's go have a ball. Let's go have some fun.' That's what we did."

Miller not only found a top target in Smith but also continued to impress Brewster.

"He's a real humble kid, a great kid," Brewster said. "I can't say enough good things about him. He really is a great kid.

"I'm trying to do everything I can to give him confidence in the huddle, make sure to tell him before the game to take charge of the huddle. ... He's just going to grow right before our eyes and I think it's going to be a beautiful thing to watch."

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