Most Important Buckeyes: No. 1 Braxton Miller

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Last updated: 08/23/2013 0:49 AM
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Football
Most Important Buckeyes: No. 1
By Rob Ogden

Was there ever any doubt who would be No. 1 on this list?

It's Cameron Johnston.

Kidding. But the punt is the most important play in football, right?

Braxton Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

Of course, No. 1 on the list is actually quarterback Braxton Miller, and the reasoning is obvious. If you read Tony Gerdeman's piece yesterday, you know the assault that Miller currently has going on the Ohio State record book.

He already holds the record for total offense in a season with 3,310 yards in 2012. After less than two seasons as a starter, Miller is already in the top 10 on that career list.

Not only does he run the Buckeyes' offense, but at many points last season, Miller was the Buckeyes' offense.

Miller was a star in 2012, and if you believe what the coaches are saying, he's "night and day" better now than he was at this time a year ago.

If that's the case, get your popcorn ready, because this is going to be fun to watch.

What Makes Him Important

You don't need an expert to answer this one. The fact that Miller accounted for more than 65 percent of Ohio State's offense last year speaks for itself.

Catalyst isn't strong enough of a word to describe what Miller is to Ohio State's offense. His elite playmaking ability makes him a nightmare for opposing teams to defend.

Still trying to implement his spread attack last season, coach Urban Meyer said a quarterback counter was often the Buckeyes' best play last year.

"We even did some single-wing (last year), which means a direct snap to the quarterback, and one of our best plays was the quarterback counter because he’s our best player," Meyer said earlier this off season.

With Meyer's preferred offensive style more in play, the coach is hoping that they will be a little less dependent on Miller in 2013.

One area the coaches do hope to depend on Miller more this season is leadership.

"Our quarterback has to become that great leader," Meyer said last month. Miller has said many times this offseason that it's an aspect of his game that he feels has improved.

What Can Be Expected Of Him

This same question was posed to tight end Jeff Heuerman earlier this week. Without saying a word, Heuerman struck a Heisman pose.

Coming off a sophomore season in which he finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 2012, Miller is surly one of the early favorites to win the award in 2013 – especially because his teammates and coaches won't stop raving about his offseason progress.

"I haven't seen a pass outside the numbers," senior running back Jordan Hall said.

Added running backs coach Stan Drayton: "Just the leadership and maturity, and fundamentally his play alone, it's obvious that he's matured all around. He's more vocal, more excited, more knowledgeable of the system. He's just a different quarterback right now.”

As improved as Miller might be, Meyer said earlier this month that the biggest difference for the offense this fall is the new supporting cast that surrounds the quarterback.

With the Buckeyes likely being less dependent on Miller this year, his total yards from scrimmage in 2013 might take a step back from a year ago.

One stat that should display Miller's improvement is his completion percentage. He completed 58 percent of his passes in 2012, but offensive coordinator Tom Herman said they expect that number to be closer to 70 percent this season.

Drayton said less pressure on Miller this season could have a direct affect on his overall play.

“The game is going to slow down for him simply because he's got more weapons that he can tap into," he said. "He's got more people available to him, both at running back and wide receiver. That alone helps his development as a player and takes the pressure off of him as a guy on gameday.”

What Would They Do Without Him

This is a question the Buckeyes had to answer all too often last season. Luckily for them, it always ended well.

That's because backup quarterback Kenny Guiton could start for half of the teams in the country. That's according to Herman.

Herman said on Monday that he has "100 percent confidence" in Guiton's ability to run the offense if need be.

That's good, because there's a pretty good chance that they're going to need him to at some point this season – maybe even to win a national championship.

That's a possibly that has crossed Guiton's mind.

"I always stay ready," Guiton said. "I try to work hard and prepare like I'm the starter so when the time does come there's no drop off."

Guiton played in nine of the team's 12 games a year ago, and the Buckeyes managed to win every one of them. Despite the confidence in Guiton, they're probably hoping they won't have to go that route again in 2013.

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