Braxton Miller has done almost everything for the Ohio State offense in the first two games of the season. However, in order to protect him long-term, coach Urban Myer and his staff need to think about changing his mindset—while making sure he stays in the pocket a bit more.
There is no denying the impact he has had on the team thus far, nor the level of excitement he has brought to Columbus. He is a quarterback, much like his Big Ten competitor Denard Robinson, with an inordinate amount of athletic prowess who can burn you with his legs and stretch the field with his arm. He showed this last week, when he rushed for 141 yards on 27 carries, while also throwing for 155 yards and completing 75 percent of his throws.
But the glaring thing with Miller is the fact he got hit 27 times, rushing down the field trying to make something happen with his legs. The Ohio State offense, after all, is down to its third-string running back at the moment, and Miller is far-and-away its best runner.
Jordan Hall, who was supposed to be the starter heading into the 2012 campaign, is recovering from foot surgery. His replacement, Carlos Hyde, left last week's game with a knee sprain and could miss a few weeks.
This puts the impetus on Miller, who clearly was the difference-maker for the Buckeyes against UCF. All of this isn't to say that Miller should stay firmly entrenched in the pocket and never move; that, of course, would only help opposing defenses.
But rushing for 27 times in a game as a quarterback is needless punishment. It was only Week 2, and taking a beating like that early on could affect his health not only this season but for years to come. Football is a game of injuries, but when a quarterback is adding too much to an already dense list of responsibilities, it would seem like a good idea to scale back.
Miller is going to continue to grow as a quarterback. He already improved his accuracy from the previous game, and if given the chance to run, he should absolutely take advantage of it. Reducing his role doesn't mean completely limiting his game.
Fewer designed quarterback runs, and more help from his other playmakers, will ensure he gets to play the whole season healthy.
And if he's healthy, he'll be damn fun to watch for years to come.