Passing Game Nose-Dived with Temperatures in November
By Rob Ogden
As November turned into December, Braxton Miller's completion percentage fell faster than the mercury in the thermometers inside Ohio Stadium.
Prior to the season, Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman said the goal was for Miller's completion percentage to be at 70 percent or higher.
The single-season school record is 65.3 percent, set by Troy Smith in 2006, but Miller was on pace to crush the record through nine weeks of the season with a completion rate of more than 72 percent.
But that number took a nose-dive over the Buckeyes' past four games.
Photo by Dan Harker
Miller completed fewer than 50 percent of his passing attempts in three of the four games, and connected on just 46 percent of his attempts during that stretch.
East Carolina's Shane Carden and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater are the only two quarterbacks in the country with a completion percentage of 70 percent. That four-game span dropped Miller's season total to 63.2 percent.
In his first seven games of the year, Miller never completed less than 57.7 percent of his passes, but he connected on a season-low 38.1 percent of his throws in the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan State Dec. 7.
"It was down, I feel like," Miller's said about his passing performance over the final month of the season. "Now we just got to get better, and that's what we're doing right now. That's why we work so hard in practice, to fix our mistakes. We've got to watch the film. We'll be fine."
Coach Urban Meyer agreed with his quarterback's assessment, and both he and center Corey Linsley gave a list of reasons why the passing game struggled.
“Indiana, weather. The team up north, we were running the ball well. Michigan State, obviously there was some different things going on there," Linsley said. "I think (Miller) has progressed well. More of his progression has shown up off the field than on. He's become more mature, more of a leader, more of a voice. I can at least speak to his progression off the field.”
After Ohio State's Nov. 16 win at Illinois, Meyer cited the high winds as one of the reasons why the Buckeyes struggled through the air. In that game Miller completed 13-of-29 passing attempts.
A week later, snowfall made for less than ideal passing conditions inside Ohio Stadium as the Buckeyes battled Indiana.
"I think (Miller) did okay. I think it was a combination of things," Meyer said. "We played a couple pretty good defenses. We did have one weather game and then the other was pass defense.
"We just have to play better. Braxton has to play better but the guys around him have to too. We just gotta get better. It's not Braxton."
Either way, Meyer admitted "We gotta throw the ball better."
Especially if they're going to keep up with Clemson Jan. 3.
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