Season Prediction: Quarterbacks

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Last updated: 07/07/2014 7:44 AM
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Projecting Ohio State's 2014 Season: Quarterbacks
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A couple of weeks ago I offered up a few critiques regarding some of the Ohio State statistical projections in Phil Steele's college football preview magazine, disagreeing with a few of his predictions.

Because I am not one who is shy about offering up his own predictions, nor being wrong about them, I thought it would only be fair if I took a stab at coming up with my own projections, thereby allowing others to freely tell me how terrible my own predictions are.

Unlike Phil Steele who uses computers to come up with his projections, I will only be using a calculator, though I will sometimes just multiply stuff in my head if the numbers are small enough.

But don't be fooled, my numbers are born in science.

So let's begin this project by looking at the Buckeye quarterbacks and taking a statistical stroll through the 2014 season.

Here are my statistical projections for each Ohio State quarterback this coming season. (For the purposes of this series, I am going to go with a 14-game schedule instead of a 13-game schedule in order to limit the amount of hate mail that I will receive. That is also why I'm not going with a 15-game schedule.)

Braxton Miller
Cardale Jones
J.T. Barrett
Stephen Collier

I have Braxton Miller missing about a game's worth of snaps, aside from the normal pine time at the end of blowouts, which is why his numbers are based on a 13-game season. Had he not missed three games a season ago, these are almost the numbers he would have had last year in 14 games.

Braxton Miler
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

Miller's passing yards per game jumped 28 yards from his sophomore season to his junior season, so if that happens again, that would put him at about 217 yards per game, but I have basically rounded that up to 220 yards in my projection.

The 31 touchdown passes for Miller are just a tick up from his average per game a season ago, and the eight interceptions represent his career interception percentage frequency.

I have the Buckeyes throwing for 3,310 yards in 2014, or 236 yards per game. That's 33 more yards per game than in 2013, which shouldn't be too much to ask from a senior entering his fourth season as a starting quarterback.

In Urban Meyer's six seasons at Florida, his teams threw for at least 236 yards three times. They did it once with Chris Leak and twice with Tim Tebow. In two of those instances the quarterbacks were seniors, just like Miller.

I also expect a deeper receiving corps to enable the Buckeyes to find more playmakers, and a shorter passing game will increase Miller's completion percentage.

Ohio State's offense will still be reliant upon the run, but they can't be as dependent on the ground game as they were a season ago. Miller will have to lead the offense with his arm more than he did in 2013, and his coaches will have to let him.

But Miller will still run the ball because why would you ever take that away from an offense? That being said, I only have him rushing for about 70 yards per game with an allowance for a couple of big days here and there.

If his first career 300-yard passing day doesn't come against Navy, then it should happen against Cincinnati. He won't likely play enough against Kent State, but I can see 230 yards passing in the first half of that game.

One major problem with my projections for Miller is that the Buckeyes play five games in November, and possibly a sixth in December. Given his tendency to slow down over the second half of the season in his career, he could fall short of my projections due to whatever it is that causes his annual decline.

The good news, however, is that the Buckeyes play Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana all in November, so that should negate any possible decline that could be lurking. Of course, Michigan State and Michigan are in that timeframe as well, so who knows what to expect. (Other than me, obviously.)

If Ohio State makes it to the Big Ten Championship Game and Miller stays healthy throughout, then I would be pretty surprised if he doesn't become just the third Buckeye quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season. After all, in a 14-game season, that's just 215 yards per game. But I am still being somewhat conservative by calling for him to fall short of that number.

As a connected aside, in Urban Meyer's career, his senior quarterbacks (Alex Smith, Chris Leak, Tim Tebow) have averaged 220 yards passing per game, which is pretty much exactly what I have Miller pegged for this season.

Where the backup quarterbacks are concerned, I only have them with limited reps. I see Meyer and Tom Herman balancing the desire to get Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett experience with the desire to show quarterbacks and receivers that the Buckeyes will throw the ball around a little.

As in most cases when it comes to Meyer, I expect the recruiting to win out. Besides, whichever quarterback wins the job in 2015 will have a pretty fair offensive line, a loaded shelf of tailbacks, the deepest group of receivers of Meyer's tenure, and probably his best OSU defense to date, so they should be okay regardless.

So that's what I've got for the Ohio State quarterbacks in 2014. I know there will be plenty of people who don't expect much from Miller through the air this season, which is another reason why I wanted to put my projections out there.

So how wrong am I?

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