Around the-Ozone Water Cooler: Can You Make a Case for Someone Other Than Braxton Miller as OSU MVP?
By the-Ozone Staff
If you ask 10 different people who the MVP of Ohio State's last undefeated team in 2002 was, you'd probably get four or five different answers. If you were to do that for the 2012 undefeated team, the consensus would be that Braxton Miller was the team MVP.
But what if Miller wasn't on the ballot? Who would be OSU's MVP then? In a season like this one, there are any number of candidates to choose from once you remove Miller.
Do you go offense? Defense? Running back? Linebacker? You can take a look at the various All-American and All-Conference lists and come up with some very good suggestions.
You can read our selections below. Do you agree? Disagree? Can you make a case for somebody else?
Tony Gerdeman: Braxton Miller is the MVP of this team, but if I had to choose somebody other than Miller, my vote emphatically goes to Zach Boren.
I don't need to rehash Boren's story, everybody knows what he did, spending the first six games on offense and the final six games on defense. His story will be told for years, it will probably grow in stature as the years pass.
There's really no need to embellish Boren's impact on this team. When he was on offense, he made the offense better, and when he was on defense, he made the defense better. Without him, the Buckeyes don't go 12-0.
When Boren was on offense, Braxton Miller averaged 7.2 yards per carry, rushing for a total of 763 yards on 106 carries. When Boren was on defense, Miller's numbers dropped to 4.2 yards per carry and just 508 yards rushing on 121 carries.
When Boren was on offense, the Buckeye defense allowed 386.5 yards per game. When he was on defense, that number was cut by over 50 yards to just 331.7 yards per game.
Simply put, Boren made a significant impact on both sides of the ball. He made the offense better when he was there, and he made the defense better when he was on that side of the ball as well.
Braxton Miller may be the most valuable player, but Boren is the most versatile player, and the value that he brought to the football team this season can't be overestimated.
Brandon Castel: On paper, it's obvious Braxton Miller was the most important and most valuable member of the 2012 Buckeyes. It’s almost scary to think where the offense would have been without him, especially early in the year. While Kenny Guiton did a tremendous job at the end of that Purdue game, there is no way this was a 12-0 football team without No. 5 running the show.
I guess that does probably make him the team MVP, but there were other guys who Ohio State could not have lived without during the 2012 football season. One of them was obviously John Simon, who has been called the ‘heart and soul’ of this football team about 20 times now by Urban Meyer.
That’s the same Urban Meyer who occasionally embellishes on how much he loves a guy, or how close they were to sending someone home with their bags packed back in January. In this case, however, I think he means what he says when talking about Simon. His no-nonsense, team-first mentality was exactly what this football team needed, and it set the example for guys like Bradley Roby and Christian Bryant on how to be selfless for this football team.
Maybe it didn’t sink in entirely with everyone, but they all knew Simon would risk his own health if meant helping the team win. Yet after all that, I’m going with captain Zach Boren as my choice for team MVP in 2012.
It could easily go to Ryan Shazier, who was probably the best player on the OSU defense by the end of the year, but it wasn’t until Boren came over to play defense that Shazier really settled down and became the kind of player Ohio State fans hoped he could be.
It’s amazing what can happen to a defense that doesn’t have a strong middle linebacker, and equally incredible what can happen when they do. Meyer said they were going to need Curtis Grant to be a player if this team was going to have the kind of success he was hoping for, and he was right. Grant wasn’t ready and they struggled on defense until Meyer finally found his middle linebacker.
Boren finished with 49 tackles in six games on defense, the first six games of his career on that side of the ball. Without him, the Buckeyes would have been in a lot of trouble against Wisconsin and Michigan, especially with the way the offense faltered.
Michael Chung: I am going to argue that it is Corey “Philly” Brown. As he improved, the offense upgraded. He was the team leader in receptions with 60 catches, which was double the next receiver, Devin Smith. But what I saw was that Corey Brown stretched the field, freeing up players like Smith and giving Braxton Miller more running room.
Though Brown’s longest catch was for only 38 yards, and he only had three touchdown catches, he was clearly game planned against. Despite that, he still managed to find holes in the coverages, which allowed players like Devin Smith to have single coverage, while also producing soft spots in the middle of the defense for Miller to run when he left the pocket. Had Brown not been such a prolific offensive threat in stretching the field, other players like Miller may not have thrived as they did.
Brown also averaged 9.3 yards per carry on 10 carries, showing Buckeye Nation that he was growing into the Percy Harvin role by being a deep threat as a receiver and speed option to the outside as a running back. With the entire offense on Miller’s shoulders early in the year, a player like Philly Brown had to step up to take some pressure off, and it was clear that the offense grew over time.
Brown was also a threat on special teams, taking two punt returns back for touchdowns. His punt return touchdown in the Nebraska game ignited the Buckeyes in the blowout of the Huskers. It is rare to lose a game when someone takes one back for a touchdown off a kickoff return or punt return (though he did fumble a punt in the Michigan game), and one can argue that Philly’s two returns for touchdowns sealed two of the 12 wins for the Buckeyes on their way to an undefeated season.
Scott Dame: In Urban Meyer’s offense, a quarterback with the abilities of Braxton Miller will be a favorite to be team MVP just about every year. As Tony has so eloquently pointed out, Miller’s sophomore season has already placed him in elite company in Ohio State’s record books.
Make no mistake; Miller deserves the team MVP as much as anyone. But a solid case can be made for Ryan Shazier to be this team’s MVP on the basis of Shazier’s irreplaceable presence and skill set on the OSU defense.
A reasonable argument could be made that Miller is also irreplaceable. I would counter that while Miller’s running ability at the QB position is certainly unique, his leadership skills, performance in the clutch and execution of the passing game were surpassed by Kenny Guiton.
This is not a knock on Miller, but high praise for Guiton, Meyer and QB coach/offensive coordinator Tom Herman.
So while Guiton was able to fill in admirably for Miller every time he was called upon, there is no player on the defense who can come close to playing the outside linebacker position like Shazier.
Shazier, like Miller a true sophomore, led the Buckeyes in total tackles (115), tackles for loss (17) and forced fumbles (three). Despite a limited amount of opportunities to rush the quarterback, Shazier finished second on the team with five sacks. John Simon led the Bucks (and the Big Ten) with nine. Shazier also had one of only two TDs on interception returns (Bradley Roby had the other).
The stats show that Shazier was the defense’s version of Miller. The on-field production of Guiton compared to OSU’s other outside linebackers shows that Shazier is even more inimitable than Miller.
The clear conclusion is that you can make a compelling case for Ryan Shazier as the most valuable player of the 2012 Ohio State football team.
Ken Pryor: In my opinion, Carlos Hyde continues to be under-valued and somewhat unappreciated. Hyde augmented the Ohio State run game and proved himself more than capable of carrying the rushing load for the Buckeyes should Tom Herman and Urban Meyer ever see fit to take some of Braxton Miller’s carries and give them over to Hyde.
This 2012 season Hyde rushed 185 times for 970 yards for an average of 5.2 ypc. You can make a lot of defenses want to quit when you’re getting 5.2 yards every tote. His 16 touchdowns weren’t exactly anything to sneeze at either.
Not only do the media and fans not appreciate Carlos Hyde, his own coaches pooh-pooh him in my humble opinion. After many of his runs the young man’s body language virtually begs and screams for the coaches to get him more carries. He tries (as respectfully as he can) to tell the coaches they don’t need to rely so heavily upon Braxton Miller in the run game.
Hyde proved his weight in gold after Miller was hurt in the Purdue game. Miller was never quite the same runner the remainder of the season, but Hyde’s production never slipped. Carlos Hyde is the type that gets stronger as the game goes on… a handy trait indeed.
The final three games of the season saw Ohio State face some teams who did a bang up job of holding Miller’s run game in check. In those same games it was Hyde for whom they had no answer. Against Illinois Carlos ran 18 times for 137 yards and three scores. At Wisconsin Hyde ran 15 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns including the game winner in overtime. Miller ran 23 times for 48 yards in the same game.
Finally, Hyde served up a nice helping of smash-mouth to the Michigan Wolverines on 26 carries for 156 strong yards and a touchdown.
Just for a little extra added value, Hyde runs down and covers punts and kick-offs. If there is another starting tailback in the country who does that, I haven’t seen him.
Carlos Hyde is as valuable to this 2012 Ohio State football team as anyone else.