Ohio State Football: Why the Buckeyes' Passing Game Has Room for Huge Growth

Tim BielikSenior Analyst IMarch 25, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 24: Quarterback Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes controls the ball against the Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium on November 24, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

It's no secret that Ohio State is not known historically for being a passing team. The Buckeyes, despite their ability to run over teams a year ago, have to improve on their No. 105 ranking in passing yards per game.

A lot of it has to do with Braxton Miller's progression as a passer.

He still has a ways to go as far as being consistent in his mechanics, but he has natural arm talent. It's just been a matter of him adjusting to the speed of the college game, which he understood much better in 2012 than he did as a freshman.

But the other big problem that has held the Ohio State passing attack back for the last two years has been the lack of a consistent No. 1 wide receiver.

Corey "Philly" Brown and Devin Smith were a decent tandem a year ago, as each had over 600 yards receiving and nine touchdowns between them.

The problem has been that neither has truly become that go-to guy consistently throughout a season. Each player took turns with the role, but it's been tough for either to assert themselves as "the guy."

Brown is the volume receiver on the team, but never had a gain of 40 yards or more all season. Smith could make the big play at any time in the game, but also had issues with drops and completely disappeared from the offense in two games—Nebraska and Penn State.

Urban Meyer's offense isn't typically known as a pass-happy offense, dating back to his Florida days when Tim Tebow only threw for over 3,000 yards once in his four-year career. By comparison, 38 quarterbacks accomplished the feat in 2012.

Miller threw for only 2,048 yards in 12 games last season, nearly 900 more than in his freshman season.

Some of that is due to his inexperience, and some is probably due to not having the necessary weapons on offense.

But help is on the way in OSU's freshman class where skill players like Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and James Clark can all make big plays out of seemingly nothing.

The biggest immediate difference will be how OSU's now-veteran group of receivers continues to grow into Meyer's offense, as he will add new wrinkles to try and make the passing attack more viable.

We saw elements of it a year ago, as the route tree available for Miller to throw to grew greatly compared to the 2011 offense, which was a more vertical attack that he wasn't prepared for.

The offense he played in last season was more like the one he had in high school, where he could operate in the shotgun and make quick decisions if he needed to.

Expect Miller to use his improving passing skills to transform the Buckeyes' passing attack into one of the more reliable units in the country.

Everyone knows OSU wants to run and will dare it to pass in 2013. The key will be for OSU to prove that it can be a more consistent passing team in order to open up its great running game.


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