Ohio State Football: 5 Things Braxton Miller Must Do to Adapt to the Spread
As soon as the hiring of Urban Meyer was announced, I'm sure Braxton Miller was jumping for absolute joy. The system Miller was asked to perform last year was atrocious and completely unfit for Miller's skill set.
One of the many positive things Meyer brings with him is his trademarked spread system that focuses on putting his best players in the best positions to succeed—especially his quarterbacks.
Now the sophomore field general will be placed in the perfect system for his talents and should adapt quickly and well. This being said, Miller still has some work to do in order to put major points on the board in 2012.
Quick Decision Making
Meyer's spread offense is built on quick-hitting passes that require almost muscle memory reaction from the quarterback. The field general must know where his receivers are, where they will be and where he must put the ball in a flash.
Despite an excellent freshman year, Miller struggled to make quick decisions and often preferred to extend plays rather than get the ball out quickly.
This won't fly in the spread system, and Miller must know that. The better Miller knows his reads and is able to put the ball where it needs to be, the better this type of offense will be.
Read the Defensive End
The zone read is a staple in Meyer's offense. It is one of the most commonly run plays in his system and possibly the most important one. In order to see success from this certain play, the quarterback must read the defensive end precisely and effectively. This play does not work if the quarterback makes a misread.
Miller is a fantastic runner don't get me wrong, but sometimes the best plays he'll make next year will be when he leaves the ball with his running back. If Miller can develop effective decision making in the zone read, it will open up holes all over the defense and keep them on their heels.
Decision Making in the Option
As I stated before, Miller is an excellent runner.
We know he can drive a defensive coordinator crazy with his legs, but he must also kill defenses with his mind. Throughout his first season, Miller hardly ever pitched the ball on speed options and this sometimes hurt the Buckeyes offense.
The speed option is another commonly run play in Meyer's system, and if this offense wants to see great success, Miller must improve his decision making in the option game. Strictly running and ignoring the pitch will make the play one dimensional and easily stoppable.
If Miller really wants to march down the field, he must trust his running back and pitch the ball when necessary.
Make Accurate Short Passes
Although Miller did have an excellent freshman season at Ohio State, he has plenty of room to improve in the passing game. He showed a lot of potential in his arm but struggled greatly at times with his accuracy and placement.
In the spread offense, accuracy in the short passing game will be paramount.
Miller must be able to hit the quick-hitting passing routes with precision in order to avoid turnovers and "third and longs," and move the ball on all downs. When throwing quick screens, Miller must be able to place the ball in the best position for his receiver to run after the catch.
Difficult throws to grab completely kill a screen before they even start.
Although these may be viewed as the "little things," they will be the difference in this offense being a great unit or a mediocre one.
Braxton Miller is an excellent player and clearly the main attraction on this offense, but he cannot be the only attraction. The sophomore quarterback is an absolute competitor and gamer, and has already shown the ability to completely take over a game and this is easily his greatest attribute.
However, at times, it appeared as if Miller would rather do it on his own rather than put faith in his fellow teammates.
I don't think this is a result of a lack of trust in his teammates as much as it is how competitive he is. But if he puts too much on his shoulders, this offense will fail.
Like a point guard, Miller must facilitate the ball all over the field and get his numerous weapons involved throughout the game.
This offense is very versatile and focuses primarily on attacking the defense from every angle and stretching them to the max, and if Miller facilitates the ball while also dominating with his legs, the end zone will become very familiar to this offense.