Ohio State Football: Braxton's Big Passing Day a Good Sign for the Buckeyes

David RegimbalFeatured ColumnistNovember 4, 2012

April 21, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller (5) throws a pass during the spring game at Ohio Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

There's more to Braxton Miller than just his running ability.

That may have been hard to discern over the last few weeks as Ohio State's sophomore quarterback struggled throwing the football. 

Coming into Saturday's matchup with Illinois, Braxton hadn't completed over 55 percent of his passes in a game since Ohio State beat Michigan State back in September. His best game (throwing the ball) during that stretch came against Indiana, when he completed 13 of his 24 pass attempts (54.5 percent) for 211 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

His performances against Purdue and Penn State were especially gruesome. Against those two opponents, Miller completed only 41 percent of his passes for an average of just 128 yards per game. To make things worse, he only threw one touchdown pass to counter two interceptions against the Boilermakers and Nittany Lions.

Against Purdue, Braxton was harassed by an uncharacteristically stout pass rush before getting knocked out of the game in the third quarter.

A week later against Penn State, Miller blamed his nerves for his poor passing performance, "I was so excited I missed a lot of throws."

That's why Urban Meyer and the coaching staff put extra emphasis on the passing game this week in preparation for the Illini.

The extra effort paid off.

Braxton didn't set any records, but he did complete 12-of-20 passes (60 percent) for 226 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also spread the ball around, finding eight different receivers with his 12 completions.

On Saturday against Illinois, Braxton looked more comfortable. Instead of firing the ball as hard as he could at a receiver the instant he felt pressure (as he did during the Penn State game), he calmly stepped up and delivered a catchable ball.

And when he had a chance to make a big play, he delivered.

Along with working on the passing game last week in practice, Meyer installed a new play—a simple wheel route—for the Buckeyes to run against Illinois. From the misdirection of Braxton's roll-out to the accuracy of his pass, the play couldn't have been executed any better.

While Miller showed signs of growth against Illinois, Urban Meyer is still looking for a lot of improvement from his sophomore quarterback, according to newarkadvocate.com.

“Still a work in progress. We’re still working and grinding and pushing because at some point we have to be a balanced team. We’re not there yet.”

Braxton Miller might not be there yet, but he took a step in the right direction Saturday against Illinois. And with a bye week ahead of the Buckeyes, you can count on Meyer to continue helping Braxton along the way.


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