The Ohio State Buckeyes had one of the more interesting offenses in college football in 2012, yet plenty of questions still loom going into 2013.
Braxton Miller had a breakout sophomore season, setting the school record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a season and improved his passing numbers dramatically from his freshman campaign.
That said, Miller's passing game may still have fans a bit concerned heading into his junior season.
After getting off to a hot start throwing the football early in the year, Miller's passing numbers started to sag, and he became more inconsistent as the season went on. In the second half of the season, Miller compiled his three lowest QB ratings of the year. And in only one of those games—against Penn State—did he rush for more than 50 yards.
MIller had plenty of inconsistencies in his passing game, but when he was good, he was really, really good.
Part of his struggles included having to learn a new system under Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman, as well as having relatively inexperienced targets.
Ohio St. had only two senior skill players he could throw to consistently, and one of them, Zach Boren, converted to linebacker the week OSU went to Indiana. The other senior, Jake Stoneburner, only had 16 catches.
By the natural progression of players improving as they gain experience, especially senior WR Corey Brown who enjoyed a nice season with 60 catches for 669 yards and three touchdowns, Ohio St.'s passing game will improve in 2013.
There should be a greater chemistry between Miller and his receivers as his passing mechanics continue to get better. He has spent a portion of this offseason working with renowned QB coach George Whitfield to improve his mechanics, as spring looms in a few months.
With a more experienced group—nine returning starters—back for next season, the offense should become more refined and diverse, which will also help Miller's passing game.
Meyer and Herman will likely continue to expand the offense and create more opportunities for big plays, especially if Miller truly progresses.
The leap he made from his freshman to sophomore year suggests another quantum leap could happen. If it does, the passing game should have a much bigger presence in the Buckeyes offense.
If OSU can establish the passing game, it can take a lot of pressure away from what Miller does best: run the football. He is at his most dangerous when he can make early throws to open up the run later in the game.
The Buckeyes finished 2012 ranked No. 105 in the nation in passing offense, but they showed great signs of improvement from 2011.
With that natural progression of talent and experience combined with the skill players OSU has committed for 2013, there is no reason to believe Braxton Miller won't improve greatly as a passer.
That need for improvement will, without a doubt, be the talk of the offseason because OSU may not be taken seriously as a title contender until Miller develops into a much more well-rounded offensive performer.
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