Buckeye Offense Will Hinge on Miller
By Brandon Castel
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Interim head coach Luke Fickell has touted the return of playmakers like Boom Herron and DeVier Posey for his optimism over Ohio State’s offense.
Photo by Jim Davidson
The Buckeyes are coming off one of their best offensive performances of the season in Ann Arbor. It also coincided with their worst defensive performance of the season against Michigan.
That offensive momentum could foreshadow big things for Ohio State in the 2012 Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl against Florida, but the Buckeyes will likely only go as far as their young quarterback can take them.
“With a senior quarterback, an offense can get better, but with a freshman quarterback, an offense can get a lot better, with bigger growth,” junior fullback Zach Boren said.
“He's gotten a lot better, and once Braxton has gotten better, our offense made huge jumps.”
That is usually how it works. While playmakers like Herron and Posey make a tremendous difference, especially with a young player like Miller running the offense, things almost always come back to the quarterback.
It doesn’t really matter what system or what program, that player under center—or in the shotgun—is going to the triggerman—the focal point of everything a team does offensively.
A great quarterback can make up for a subpar offensive line—much like we saw at times with Terrelle Pryor early in his career. He can often times make up for a monotonous running game, as long as he is a guy who can make plays at the most important position in all of football.
“Throw his ability in there to make plays with his legs, and sometimes the ability not to run and be able to sit there,” Fickell said.
“Because guys are going to expect him to run.”
The Wolverines certainly did, and why not? Miller racked up nearly 700 yards on the ground as a freshman—enough to lead the team in rushing during the regular season. He topped 100 yards on the ground in three of Ohio State’s last four games, including back-to-back 100-yard rushing games against Penn State and Michigan State.
Miller also scored seven rushing touchdowns over the final five weeks of the season after not crossing the goal line once during the first seven weeks. Yet it was Miller’s passing that impressed his teammates the most during OSU’s 40-34 loss to the Wolverines.
“I think against Michigan our passing game was real promising, and I think that kind of took them off guard a little bit,” tight end Reid Fragel said.
“If we put it all together, I think we'll be a really special team.”
Getting Posey back made an obvious impact in Ohio State’s passing game. The Buckeyes were plagued with inconsistency at the wide receiver position all season, but Posey’s return gave Miller a true weapon down the field, as well as a confident veteran with big game experience.
“When you have a DeVier Posey back out there, it gives you some confidence in a guy who can truly make some plays,” Fickell said.
Posey made a few of them in his two games on the field this season, but he could have made a whole lot more. There wasn’t one defensive back in Michigan’s secondary who could stay with Posey in the regular-season finale, and oftentimes even two guys wasn’t enough to lock him up.
If Miller would have been on point with his accuracy, Posey may have hauled in a dozen passes, including what looked like the game-winner as he was streaking down the left sideline all alone in the final minute of the game.
Miller’s pass sailed over Posey’s head and out of reach. It would have helped if Miller had more time to work with Posey in game situations during the season, but ultimately it comes down to Miller making plays.
“It finally did show up some the in the last game,” current offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said.
“It showed up, but it wasn’t good enough yet either. There were some situations that if we could have hit a couple more things we would have been in a lot better shape than we were.”
If Miller can make the throws he missed in the Michigan game, Ohio State can arguably score with just about anyone now that they have Posey, Herron and left tackle Mike Adams back.
If he can’t, then it doesn’t matter how many times Posey gets open against Florida’s secondary or how well Adams neutralizes the Gators’ pass rush.
It is all going to come back to the man with the ball in his hands—just like it always does.
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