July 31, 2012

Meyer, media place pressure on Miller

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Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

Following a freshman season that saw him lead Ohio State in both passing and rushing en route to being named the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year, it's no surprise that the expectations for Braxton Miller are sky high as he enters his sophomore season.

But while the Buckeyes' quarterback now finds his face on the front of preseason magazines and name atop award watch lists, perhaps nobody is placing higher expectations on Miller than his new coach.

"The one thing about our offense, you can't have a bad quarterback. It's kind of harsh to say that. And the quarterback can't have a bad day or lose," first-year Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. "There's a lot of times in games where the quarterback has to make a read every play. Eighty snaps where- I don't if there's any other offense that does that."

Although Meyer is quick to essentially place burden of his entire offense on Miller's shoulders, he's just as quick to express an undying confidence in his new quarterback. Having coached star quarterbacks at all of his stops in college football- be it Josh Harris at Bowling Green, Alex Smith at Utah, or Tim Tebow at Florida- Meyer's spread offense is known for highlight its signal caller, and Meyer has little doubts that his first season at Ohio State will be any different.

"When I first got the phone call (about the Ohio State job), I knew all about Braxton, that's the first thing that popped into my head. You're dead in the water if you don't have a guy that can play," Meyer said. "And he can play."

It doesn't take much more than a look at last year's Ohio State box scores to see that the 6-foot-3 Miller can in fact play. After wrestling the Buckeyes' quarterback job away from Joe Bauserman by the fourth game of the season, Miller finished 2011 having thrown for 1,159 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just four interceptions.

Perhaps more indicative of the type of success that Miller could have in Meyer's spread offense are his numbers running the ball, where he rushed for 715 yards and seven touchdowns.

Considering he recruited the Huber Heights, Ohio native when he was the head coach at Florida, it shouldn't come as any surprise that Meyer views Miller's skill set as a match made in heaven with his offense. But while the two-time national champion head coach has certainly been impressed by what Miller's shown him on the field during his short time in Columbus, Meyer's been more excited by what he's seen from him off the field.

"He has a virtue that is relatively nonexistent these days at quarterback at a top-10 program, and that's humility. Very humble guy. He's not a guy that's looking to- it's refreshing to see that. It's good for football. It's good for college football. It's good for my son to see that here's a kid that is not looking to be up front," Meyer said. "If you put him in a winner-loser day, he's going to find the best way to win. And that's our No. 1 target when we go recruit and evaluate a quarterback. Really any player, but especially a quarterback."

It's clear that there are many aspects to Miller's game and personality that intrigue Meyer, but there's also one area that the coach would like to see the 19-year-old sophomore make a big leap.

"The areas he need to work on are leadership and that's to be determined. I'll tell you after the first week of practice if he's a good leader," Meyer said. "'Cause if we throw the ball decent, guys are catching, that means he led them all summer. If they don't, then he's not where he needs to be."

Whether Miller can live up to the lofty expectations- set by both the media and his coach- remains to be seen. But given the promise he showed a season ago and the track record of the man now coaching him, it's a safe bet that Miller and Meyer's offense will bring out the best in each other in 2012.


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