Miller Wastes No Time Picking Up New Offense
By Brandon Castel
During Ohio State’s bowl preparations back in December, quarterback Braxton Miller decided he would wait until after the Gator Bowl to start worrying about Urban Meyer’s new offense.
He didn’t wait long.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Less than a week into his second spring practice at Ohio State, the sophomore out of Huber Heights Wayne is already starting to pick up some of the nuances of an Urban Meyer-Tom Herman offense.
“I like it. It's fast-paced,” the young signal caller said after practice Saturday.
“I can read the defense before the defense can even make their play calls to see what they're in. I can make my reads. It's a different type of thing.”
Different indeed; a divergent path in almost every way from the offense Miller ran in his first season in Columbus. After being forced into action late in Ohio State’s 24-6 loss at Miami, Miller became the full-time starter in week four, but the Buckeyes continued to struggle offensively.
They finished 11th in the Big Ten and No. 107 nationally in total offense last season, while ranking dead-last in the conference in passing offense. Miller expects that to change in his first season under new leadership.
“The offense is fast-tempo,” he said.
“It’s five-wides and it’s explosive. I feel pretty comfortable in it and how it suits my athletic ability and my ability to make plays. It’s no-huddle, so I just get the signals from the side. I’m telling the O-linemen what to do. I can flip the play call, whatever. It’s exciting and it’s explosive.”
It can also be confusing, and at times exhausting.
Not only has Herman implemented the no-huddle offense this spring, but he has the Buckeyes moving at a meteoric pace in practice. Meyer called it “rapid fire,” and said it was even faster than what he was used to at Florida.
“As you start to install more offense, the kids’ brains get a little overloaded with new terminology and new tempos, and everything from stances to starts to formations to tempos, all of that is new,” Herman said.
“So, once you get to day three, it gets to be a little overwhelming. And that’s the plan—to give them as much as possible and let them be introduced to everything, and then after about five or six days, go back and re-teach the finer points of it.”
Herman’s No. 1 priority this spring is to get Miller up to speed on everything he needs to know in order to run the new offense. Miller has to know what he’s doing at all times, but also where Ohio State’s playmakers—assuming some emerge this spring—are at and what needs to happen in order to get the ball in their hands.
“I just feel good about the entire game-plan right now,” Miller said.
“It’s explosive, everything is fast-paced and he wears down defenses. It’s about getting the ball into our playmakers’ hands. They’re not out there for nothing, so get them the ball.”
It’s going to be a process before it all comes together to look anything remotely like Meyer and Herman would like to see from the Buckeyes in 2012, but Herman is on board with his head coach when it comes to knowing they have the right guy to make it work.
“He throws the ball better than maybe I had anticipated,” Herman said after Saturday’s practice.
“But I think he’s got some definite refinement to do in terms of his lower-body mechanics. His feet are all over the place at times, but the ball comes out nice and smooth. His delivery is actually better than I had anticipated.”
That is good news for everyone, especially Miller, who will get a chance to work closely with Herman on his footwork and delivery this spring. He should also benefit from having a head coach who developed such college quarterbacks as Alex Smith, Chris Leak and Tim Tebow.
“I learn so much from him,” Miller said of Meyer.
“Everything he says, I just try to soak in. There’s always something new and I’m learning from him every day.”
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