Too much for Miller?

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Last updated: 08/16/2012 4:09 PM

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Football
Is Too Much Being Thrown at Miller?

By Brandon Castel

There was a moment during Wednesday’s ESPNU feature on Ohio State’s fall training camp where head coach Urban Meyer was questioning Braxton Miller about his weight.

Urban Meyer
Photo by Dan Harker
Urban Meyer

It was a simple question, really. Meyer wanted to know if Miller had added any weight after apparently losing a few pounds in the burning sun and smothering heat of fall camp. It’s not that camp has been any more excruciating than years past, at least in terms of temperature, but Meyer has asked a lot of players since January.

Nay, he has demanded it.

It’s his way or the high way, and that high way leads straight to the bench, or, worse yet, out of Columbus altogether. The players have embraced Meyer’s structure and Mickey Marotti’s in-your-face intensity. They believe Meyer when he says he has a plan, and they are certainly not too young to remember their new head coach holding the crystal football—not once but twice—in the last decade.

“Around college football, he’s a superstar among coaches,” said freshman Taylor Decker, who switched his commitment from Notre Dame to OSU after Meyer took over.

Meyer certainly carries himself like a star, with a soft-spoken yet stern demeanor that both puts his players at ease and keeps them on high alert at all times.

Urban Meyer and Kenny Guiton
Photo by Jim Davidson
Urban Meyer and Kenny Guiton

“Coach Meyer can pop around the corner at any moment and ask you a quick question,” backup quarterback Kenny Guiton said.

“You better be ready or he’s going to be mad.”

We haven’t seen much of Meyer’s fury since he took the job back in November, but we all know the rage is still in there. As with most elite football coaches at the top of their game, it sits, dormant, just beneath the surface; waiting for that first bad flag or thoughtless turnover.

The latter is something Meyer simply won’t tolerate, but turnovers are a part of football. They are bound to happen, especially with a young quarterback like Miller, but Meyer insists his sophomore signal-caller must be perfect, each and every time he takes the field.

“In our offense, the quarterback can’t have a bad day,” Meyer said last week.

“He really can’t have a bad snap.”

That’s a lot of pressure for a kid who played on a 6-7 football team a year ago, but Miller is taking it all in stride. He doesn’t seem to be fazed by all the attention, at least what’s coming from outside the program. 

Braxton Miller and Urban Meyer
Photo by Dan Harker
Urban Meyer and Braxton Miller

“I’m cool with it. No pressure,” he said during the first week of fall camp.

“Everything is on me. If I mess up a pass, it’s on me. If a receiver drops a pass, it’s on me. I take it, because everything is coming out of my hands and is going to (receivers), so anything bad that happens on offense is in my hands.”

Along with Indiana’s Tre Roberson, Miller is the youngest staring quarterback in the Big Ten. Every other team in the conference starts a junior or senior at the position. The Big XII also has only two teams (Texas and Iowa State) with sophomore quarterbacks in the starting lineup.

That hasn’t kept Ohio State’s head coach from harping on his young playmaker.

“He’s always on my butt,” Miller whispered to his teammates after Meyer was seen getting on him about his weight.

Meyer also started a sophomore quarterback at Florida named Tim Tebow. After splitting time with Chris Leak during his freshman year, Tebow became the Gators’ full-time starter in 2007.

All he did that year was set an SEC record for total touchdowns (passing and rushing) while becoming the first sophomore in history to win the Heisman Trophy. It was the second year of Meyer’s offensive overhaul in Gainesville, but he would be the first to remind us of all the playmakers surrounding Tebow in that offense.

Along with Percy Harvin, who had a breakout sophomore season as well, the Gators were loaded with future NFL talent at the skill position. That included Andre Caldwell, Louis Murphy, Riley Cooper, David Nelson, Cornelius Ingram and Aaron Hernandez.

Meyer believes he has a Hernandez-type player in Jake Stoneburner, but after that, a lot is going to fall on the shoulders of his young quarterback – especially while Jordan Hall is recovering from his foot injury.

“With Jordan Hall, I have a calendar ready in my mind and on paper,” Meyer said.

“We understand we have to bite the bullet until then with some other things we want to do.”

That doesn’t mean Meyer is willing to cut Miller some slack until then. Not in this offense, where the quarterback can’t have a bad day. Not even in practice.

“At practice, Coach Meyer is always talking about how easy it is to be average,” Miller said during an interview.

“It’s easy to go out there and just throw the ball and not even care if it’s incomplete or complete.”

It’s a little tougher when the head coach could pop around the corner at any moment.

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