Buckeye Notebook - Northwestern Week
By Rob Ogden
In the weeks leading up to the season, Braxton Miller repeatedly dismissed any Heisman Trophy discussion.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“I hear it every now and then, but I don't focus on it,” Miller said during the offseason. “I just focus on the team and how we can get better each and every day.”
Wednesday, he admitted that football's most prestigious award did cross his mind while he missed nearly all of three games with a sprained left knee.
"It sat in my mind a little bit," he said. "Little things that you think about while you're sitting out, but the big game is always what counts."
Miller entered the year as an early Heisman favorite after finishing fifth in voting for the award last season.
In basically two games, Miller has completed more than 69 percent of his passing attempts for 406 yards and six touchdowns.
He said he thinks there's still a chance he could work his way back into the Heisman discussion that he once tried to silence.
"The way we keep playing as a team, there's all type of awards guys can get," he said. "If it happens, I'll be grateful, but I'm just gonna keep playing my game with the guys. Hopefully I'll be looking forward to it after the season."
Coach Urban Meyer said Miller looks 100 percent healthy, and added that the week leading up to the Wisconsin game was the best week of preparation that Miller has ever had.
"I feel pretty good, I didn't miss a beat," Miller said. "Even though I wasn't practicing, I was still getting my mental and physical reps."
Mark boosts Wildcats' offense.
After missing the previous three games with a leg injury, Northwestern running back Venric Mark has been cleared to play Saturday against Ohio State.
The senior practiced fully this week, and adds another weapon to the Wildcat offense.
"They've got a running back coming back this week that's pretty fast, he's all over the field," senior safety C.J. Barnett said. "We'll have to make sure we stop him, especially on special teams."
Mark finished 4th in rushing yards among running backs in the Big Ten last season with 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns on 226 carries.
He's also a dangerous return man. He led the conference with 2,171 all-purpose yards and finished fourth with 15 total touchdowns.
Mark was named a first-team All-American punt returner by the Football Writers Association of American last season as he led the nation with 20.1 yards per punt return and took two back for touchdowns.
He owns the school records for single-game, single-season and career kickoff return yards, as well.
"He's fast. He's a great returner," Meyer said. "I run the coverage unit, when I saw that I went back and watched the film and he's an excellent kick returner. We're gonna cross our t's and dot our i's on this guy. I think he's really good."
Buckeye offense operating at record pace
With four touchdown passes against Wisconsin last weekend, Braxton Miller upped the team's season total to 19 —two more than the Buckeyes had all of last year.
They're on pace to break the school record of 33 touchdown passes — set in 1995 — by week nine.
Part of Ohio State's aerial success can be attributed to aggressive play calling, but the increased comfort level the skill players have in the offense has helped too, Miller said.
"There's more confidence in guys running routes," he said. "Last year I wasn't as comfortable with the playbook as I am now. It just takes time. In the off-season we worked with the guys and worked on timing."
The Buckeyes are on pace to break a points per game mark, as well. Through five games they're averaging 48.2 points per game. The school record is 42.5 points, set in 1969.
Northwestern is allowing 23.8 points in four games this season and has surrendered 308.8 yards through the air.
Miller said he's seen some areas of the Northwestern defense that the Buckeye should be able to exploit.
"There's a couple coverages that they play that we've got good plays for," he said "Hopefully we can take advantage of that and get the ball out of my hands and to the playmakers."
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