Though the Ohio State football team took a few steps backward last season, things look to get back to normal again in 2012 under the leadership of national championship-winning head coach Urban Meyer.
With the insertion of the spread, expectations are high for the potential of the Buckeyes' offensive production; especially with an exciting dual quarterback like sophomore Braxton Miller taking snaps behind center.
Miller will be put in an offensive system that's designed to exploit his athletic abilities. That's exciting when you consider how stagnant the Ohio State offense was a year ago. Yet the question still remains: How good can Braxton Miller get and how soon can he get there? Is he actually Heisman material this year? We will soon see!
On top of the Buckeyes winning at least 10 games, here are five things that must happen in order for the sophomore to hoist up the bronze stiff arm by season's end.
One thing that all of the previous five Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks have in common is that they were accurate with the ball, completing at least 65 percent of their passes. In fact, the average completion percentage of the last five Heisman Trophy winning QB's combined is nearly 68 percent.
Miller's pass accuracy is the biggest question mark going into his dark horse Heisman campaign. Though he completed 54.1 percent of his passes as a freshman, his completion percentage was literally sitting at just 50 percent on the year before he went 18-of-23 (78 percent) in the Gator Bowl.
As demonstrated in the spring game, however, Miller's passing game has vastly improved and he looks very comfortable in the new offense. If Miller is anywhere near as accurate as he was in the spring game (where he completed 77 percent of his passes), the sky is the limit for him this season.
Another trend with the previous five Heisman winning quarterbacks is that all of them threw for at least 2,500 yards. In fact, the average amount of yards those legendary quarterbacks threw in their Heisman campaign's is 3,539 yards.
If Braxton Miller can duplicate his performance in the 2012 spring game and pass for 258 yards game in and game out this fall, he would end up with over 3,000 passing yards on the season.
Braxton Miller can flat out fly, and he's capable of exploding for big chunks of rushing yards on every given play. Having great speed, good vision, the ability to break tackles and a knack for knowing when to tuck the ball and run, he is one of the most dangerous QB's in the country with his feet.
That being said, rushing for nearly 1,000 yards should be the easiest of the things mentioned on this list for Miller to accomplish; especially considering the way his rushing abilities will be utilized in Urban Meyer's spread offense.
After all Miller did lead the team in rushing in last season with 715 yards. He just has to avoid getting hurt.
For the most part, Braxton Miller did a good job protecting the ball last year. He will have to do the same thing as a sophomore as Urban Meyer's offense will require him to throw the ball more than he ever has in his career.
Can Miller limit the number of mistakes he makes and have a productive season distributing the ball to his speedy play-makers? Only time will tell.
Much like other quarterbacks to take home the Heisman trophy, Miller will have to showcase his skills when the pressure is on him most. Last year he did just that in his comeback win against the Wisconsin Badgers.
I suspect that Miller's best chance to have a Heisman moment this season will come against the Michigan Wolverines on November 24th in front of a sellout crowd in Columbus.
Urban Meyer has coached some very successful quarterbacks in his career and Miller is the kind of guy he likes behind the center. When asked about Miller's potential, Meyer had this to say of his young quarterback: “He's the most dynamic athlete I've ever coached.”
But does Miller have what it takes to put up extraordinary passing and rushing numbers in the same season? If so, could that happen as early as his sophomore year? And will Ohio State win enough games for him to get Heisman recognition? I can't wait to find out!