Tom Herman's 'To Do' List for the Buckeye Quarterbacks
By Tony Gerdeman
Players can't technically be coached during the offseason, but that doesn't mean they sit idly by in some type of hibernative stasis.
They are working out, and if they aren't looking for ways to get better, then they will be passed up by those who are.
With a mostly new staff in place, progressing players through the offseason with an eye towards improvement is even more difficult because the coaches' frame of reference for those players is basically nil.
So with that in mind, we've gathered a 'To Do' list of items that offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman might have compiled for his quarterbacks to follow in hopes of starting Spring football ahead of schedule.
Photo by Jim Davidson
1. Make sure that Braxton Miller knows what is expected of him as the starting quarterback at The Ohio State University.
It's time that the quarterback at Ohio State use his position for good, instead of evil. With great power comes great responsibility, and as corny as it sounds, this is a very necessary lesson for Miller to learn.
There is more to a starting quarterback than simply leading a team on the field. The quarterback is the face of your entire football program. It's a reflection, blemishes and all.
"I think he's a great kid," Herman said of his rising sophomore signal caller.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"A great young man. I can't speak enough of the few times that we've been able to sit down in a room and be able to talk. Not just football, but his leadership role in this program.
"The things that he needs to do that are not related to Xs and Os, they're not related to mechanics, they're related to being the starting quarterback at Ohio State University.
"He's been tremendously receptive, he's been tremendously respectful and eager to learn, and be able to immerse himself in what we're trying to accomplish here."
And it will need to continue.
2. Give his quarterbacks a lesson in philosophy.
When I was in college, I took philosophy classes to avoid taking math classes. (It seemed like a good idea at the time.) So much of philosophy and logic are based in mathematics, and Ohio State's future offense will be no different
In fact, they are entirely connected.
“I think it's an offense based on matchups," Herman said, explaining Meyer's offensive philosophy.
"I think it's an offense based on using the entire width and length of the football field. The field is 120 yards long and 54 yards wide. And in our opinion the defense only has eleven human beings to cover that much grass, and so we're going to use space and numbers to our advantage."
It's simple math. When you have the mindset to use the entire field, the opposing defense will have to have the mindset of defending it. Then you find the weak spots, and exploit them.
This is the information that these quarterbacks will need to absorb. They will need to understand where the weak spots are likely to be, and how best to attack them.
It's hard to do this when there is no practice to partake in, but as in philosophy, so much of it is just a mental exercise.
3. Break out some DVDs of the greatest hits.
With Urban Meyer as your head coach, and even Tom Herman as the quarterbacks coach, the Ohio State quarterbacks have quite a legacy of quarterbacks to fall back on.
Braxton Miller, Kenny Guiton and Cardale Jones need to be given DVDs of Josh Harris, Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, and Chase Clement, whom Herman coached at Rice. And they need to study these highlights whenever they get a chance.
Each of those quarterbacks did different things, and they all did them well. Harris was athletic, Smith was brilliant, Tebow was Tebow (he's his own adjective now), and Clement did a little bit of everything in Herman's fast-paced offense.
These three quarterbacks need to take the best parts of each and make them their own.
4. Make reading fundamental.
A large portion of Urban Meyer's offense revolves around the quarterback running the ball, and much of that entails the zone read.
Even though Miller ran it quite a bit in high school, the Buckeyes didn't run it more than a couple of times per game this past season.
Moving forward, however, it will likely become a larger part of the what goes on.
"We'll put stress on the defense in terms of using the quarterback in the run game, and having a viable run game option," Herman foresees.
"And then take advantage of any of the mismatches that we can create out there in space with our athletes on the opposing athletes."
If there's one thing that Braxton Miller can do, it's put stress on an opposing defense.
The basic decision making in the read option is easy enough, and it's also something that can be addressed off the field.
The hope is that the off-field preparation kicks in when the bullets start flying, and the ball gets rolling from there.
If Miller wasn't running the read option last year because he was making the wrong reads, then he needs to start making the right reads immediately. This offense's success depends on it.
5. Find Braxton Miller's baseline.
The difficult part of this is that none of it will occur in person on a football field. It will take place on a television screen, or sitting at a desk having a conversation.
Tom Herman will need to find out if his star quarterback needs broken down before being built up, or if his foundation is strong enough to have a couple of stories put on it in a quick manner.
"Fundamentally, it's hard to say," Herman said of evaluating Miller's present state.
"All that I have to go on is the few games that he did start last year, and I certainly did watch those and took notes and let him know what I thought maybe the finer points that he's gonna have to work on in this offseason. But to get specific about it would be very premature having not seen him take a drop or throw a pass in person."
We've all seen that there is room for improvement and work to be done, but nobody really knows how much work actually needs done to get Miller where they want him.
The sooner they can figure that out, the sooner they can figure out how to get him beyond where he is, and on to where he needs to be.
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