Braxton Miller is one of the most electrifying players in the country as well as a Heisman candidate. His playmaking ability makes it tough for defenses to defend and he can drive defensive coordinators mad.
His skill set led to 1,271 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns last season. He also threw for 2,039 yards and 15 touchdowns. He was nearly the entire offense during Ohio State's 2012 undefeated season.
It's difficult to completely stop a player who had 14 runs of 20-plus yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry. However, there are certain things that defenses can do to limit his production and give themselves a better chance to win the game.
The key to limiting any dual-threat quarterback is playing with discipline. Every defender has a gap to fill and it is their job not to lose containment or overpursue. Sometimes a defender can feel that he is close to making a play and gets a little too excited. He thinks he can he catch up to Miller and bring him down for a sack.
Good luck with that. Miller is extremely elusive and will make even the best defenders miss in the open field. Just ask Michigan State linebacker Chris Norman, who told Mlive just how frustrating it can be to defend Miller when he is looking to run.
"It was a very hard offense to defend," said linebacker Chris Norman, who finished with a season-high nine tackles. "The guy can make plays. It was really frustrating at times. He's very elusive."
Elusiveness can only be matched by a disciplined defense. The defenders must know their assignment and keep to it. It isn't the time to play Superman and make a play that will appear on ESPN. Miller will just make you look foolish, like this.
So, how do you prevent ending up on the highlight reels for all of the wrong reasons?
Here you see Penn State defending a read option. Miller is looking to run up the middle and pick up a first down. The problem is that there is nowhere to run. Everybody filled their gap correctly, while the linebacker is in good position (circled) and the defensive lineman (square) is able to break free off the edge and get a hand on Miller.
Miller had no space to make or move. There were no open lanes for him to pick up the necessary yards to move the chains. Instead, it was one of the few times Miller wasn't productive running the football, and Ohio State was forced to punt.
You can't lose containment on Miller and think you can play him one-on-one. The defense must work as a collective group and play fundamentally sound football.
Get him to Roll Out
It remains to be seen how Miller has improved throwing the ball since working with quarterback guru George Whitfield Jr., but one thing he struggled mightily with is throwing the ball on the run.
If you could flush him out of the pocket and force him to throw the ball on the move, the chances of forcing an inaccurate pass is quite high.
Here you can see Miller is forced to roll out with pressure coming off the edge. The footwork will show you all you need to see. He's throwing off the wrong foot. This will result in an inaccurate and weak pass. Miller won't be able to put enough velocity on the ball and will be lucky if his pass even makes its way to the intended target.
He does it again in this photograph. His feet aren't set, and he's almost shot putting the football. It is impossible to throw an accurate football with this throwing technique and poor footwork. As expected, this throw resulted in an incompletion, even though the receiver was open.
Miller has been criticized for his inability to throw an accurate football. He has completed under 60 percent of his passes in his first two seasons. For an athletic quarterback who moves around as much as he does, he must improve throwing on the run. However, until he does, flushing him out of the pocket and forcing him to make plays with his arm on the move is the key to Miller's inconsistency.