Miller Has Been Straw Stirring OSU's Drink

As Braxton Miller goes, so does Ohio State through the first three games of the 2012 season. Thankfully for the 3-0 Buckeyes, Miller is off to a red-hot start. It may be too soon to think Heisman Trophy for the sophomore quarterback, but Miller has certainly been impressive.

Three weeks does not a college football season make. That goes double for a potential Heisman Trophy campaign.

But it's hard to argue that Ohio State sophomore Braxton Miller shouldn't at least be in early-season discussions about the award given to the sport's best player.

Twice this season, Urban Meyer has been asked if he feels Miller deserves such attention – including Monday afternoon during Meyer's weekly press luncheon. Each time, Meyer said he thinks it is too soon to consider Miller among college football's best.

Meyer stated that his QB is "not playing well enough yet," but also spoke very highly of Miller's efforts so far this season.

"I have a lot of confidence in Braxton," Meyer said. "He's our best player right now on offense."

Meyer might not be driving the "Miller For Heisman" bandwagon, but that doesn't mean Miller hasn't been impressive through the first quarter of the season. The Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne product won Big Ten player of the week honors for his efforts Saturday in Ohio State's 35-28 victory against upset-minded California. He threw for 249 yards, rushed for 75 more and had a hand in all of his team's touchdowns.

Perhaps most importantly, Miller led a pair of touchdown drives in the fourth quarter against the Golden Bears. The latter of which came on a game-winning 72-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith with 3:26 left in regulation.

"When we need someone to make a play, Braxton is the guy," senior wide receiver Jake Stoneburner said. "He's been doing it since he's been here. Coach Meyer counts on him.

"When the game's in the clutch, give it to No. 5. He'll do something with the ball."

Miller's athleticism has been on display on several occasions this season, especially so on a pair of highlight-worthy touchdown runs. In the season opener Sept. 1 against Miami (Ohio), Miller utilized a devastating stutter-step to elude RedHawks safety D.J. Brown en route to a 65-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of OSU's 56-10 win.

Two weeks later, Miller again dazzled on a long touchdown run. On OSU's third offensive possession against Cal, Miller dashed for a 55-yard touchdown run. Miller faked a handoff to junior Corey Brown on a read-option and broke into open space. After getting a seal block from Zach Boren, Miller juked Cal's Alex Logan and outraced a pair of Golden Bears to the corner of the end zone.

Miller's rushing ability has never been in question. He is tops among rushing quarterbacks this season, rushing for 126 yards per game. But his passing has also shown flashes of improvement. Miller has completed 61.5 percent (48 of 78) of his passes for 611 yards with seven touchdowns a pair of touchdowns. Comparatively, the sophomore completed 54.1 percent (85 of 157) of his passes last season.

OSU quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Tom Herman said Miller is seeing the field better in his second year as the Buckeyes' starter.

"The vibe I get from him and the talks that we've had, is that he's enjoying himself a lot in this offense," Herman said. "He understands the areas he still needs to improve on, so he's certainly not satisfied."

Miller is far from perfect – as his fourth-quarter interception against Cal proved – but he appears to be on the right track. With 988 yards of total offense this season, Miller ranks ninth in the Football Bowl Subdivision. His 126-yards rushing per game average is good for 10th-best in the nation, and his 204-yards per game passing average is good for 70th nationally.

A trip to New York in December might not be in the cards for Miller, but the Buckeyes hope the quarterback continues his upward trajectory.


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