Miller Trying to Move the Ball Any Way He Can
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Much was made of the fourteen carries that Braxton Miller had in the first half against Colorado last week, and for good reason.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Miller battled injuries throughout his entire high school career, and has already missed one game in his college career due in some part to injury.
Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman was concerned enough about Miller's first half load on Saturday to limit him quite aggressively in the second half, where he had only three carries.
But limiting a player's best attribute can be a tricky situation according to Bollman.
“There were a lot of times he pulled it down and ran with it. I think as we go on, how do you totally diminish that? You don't want to diminish it entirely, but on the other hand, a little bit you'd like to.”
As far as the fourteen carries in the first half, don't get used to it.
“That won't be the plan for the rest of the year," Bollman said. "Can I curtail that entirely, no guarantees.”
Photo by Dan Harker
It's hard to limit Miller's ability to carry the ball when he's not yet to the point where he can go through each progression every single time. Right now, taking off with the ball isn't a last option, it's a second or third option.
“I think as he grows up they'll be later and later," Bollman said of Miller's decisions to run.
"But as I said, you don't want to take that out of the deal. When a guy can go like that why should you tell him not to go. But as you grow wiser there has to be more decisions, and I think that will come as he sees the picture more clearly, when he feels comfortable.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"I mean, he can throw the ball, and he can throw the ball very quickly. So when he feels comfortable in a situation I'm sure he will. But also on the other hand, when he feels uncomfortable, he's not tossing it around, and he's not sitting back there getting hit. He's pulling it down and causing a threat.”
Miller's second instinct may be to run, but his first instinct has always been to simply move the chains. As the quarterback, that is his job. And the longer he can keep the Ohio State offense on the field, the more effective a young Buckeye defense will become.
And that's what he was trying to do against Colorado.
“I know we had to get a 'W',” Miller said.
“So I just had to do what I had to do, run the ball. And the offensive line did a really good job.”
Miller rushed for 83 yards in the game, but some of his best carries were the ones that barely netted a yard.
"I felt like our defense did a decent job but we did not tackle him,” said Colorado head coach Jon Embree of Miller.
“He did a good job on eliminating losses where we should have had them for negative gains. We had shots but just couldn't bring him down behind the line of scrimmage."
It's not always just a lack of going through progressions that leads to Miller running the ball--sometimes it's more about avoiding a sack.
The ability to turn a negative into a positive is a very powerful tool, and it's one of the reasons that Miller was so sought after. As a quarterback, Miller is going to do whatever he can to avoid being sacked, and right now his best attribute in that regard is leaving the pocket and heading upfield.
As long as Miller is at Ohio State, his ability to escape danger is never going to be discouraged. But his disregard for his own welfare will need to be addressed.
“We are going to have to figure out some self preservation,” Luke Fickell said of the future plans for his quarterback.
“But things start to happen. We tried not to stare too much at stats, obviously as you go back to evaluate and look back at it, we'll take a peek at those things."
The coaches may be concerned with his number of carries, but Miller was anything but conciliatory for the way he ran the ball against Colorado.
“This is the defense they run,” he said of the Buffaloes' blitzing style.
“And as they run the defense, holes open up. And if nobody's open, I'm going to take off and get the yards because that's what my team needs.”
While he wasn't offering up any apologies, he did say that he would keep his coaches concerns in mind.
“Like when I got hit, when I flipped up in the air, they said just slide next time,” Miller recalled. “That's going to be in the back of my mind.”
“There were a couple times when I was out front blocking for him and he got hit,” said fullback Zach Boren, “and I was like 'Dude! You got hit!' And he gets up and he laughed about it or whatever and said 'I'm good, lets get on to the next play,' so he's a tough kid.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
"He used his natural instincts,” center Mike Brewster said.
“That's what I did as a freshman and he's doing it now. He got a little banged up out there, but he tried to get as many yards as possible. He probably could have gotten out of bounds a little more to take a few of the hits away so he doesn't get as banged up, but he's a fighter."
Of course, if Braxton Miller wants to survive for the entire season, he might want to keep in mind the number one rule for every fighter out there--protect yourself at all times.
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