Ohio State Needs Big Plays Outside of Braxton Miller in 2013

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Ohio State Needs Big Plays Outside of Braxton Miller in 2013

Fueled by the incredible playmaking ability of Braxton Miller, Ohio State fielded one of college football's most explosive offenses last year.

With nine starters returning to a unit that averaged more than 37 points per game, many expect the Buckeyes to be even better in 2013. If Ohio State wants to take that next step, though, playmakers other than Miller need to step up.

There were times when it didn't look like Miller needed much help. The outstanding quarterback had a historic sophomore campaign, setting a single-season school record with 3,310 total yards of offense in just 12 games.

Miller, who led the Buckeyes in rushing with 1,271 yards, was also Ohio State's most consistent big-play threat. Miller had 14 rushes that went for 20 or more yards, compared to just 11 for the rest of the team.

That production was a heavy burden for the Buckeyes' signal-caller. Miller averaged nearly 19 carries per game, and there were moments when it looked like he wouldn't recover from one of the many hits he took.

Early in the season, Urban Meyer was concerned about Miller's heavy workload and noted that 12 carries was an ideal average for his quarterback.

Miller hit Meyer's magic number just one time, in the Buckeyes' Week 8 matchup against Purdue. Of course, that was only because Miller was knocked out of the game after taking a hard hit late in the third quarter.

Miller's workload would lessen if there were more big-play threats on the field. Identifying those players is one of Meyer's top priorities.

Running back Carlos Hyde certainly came on strong at the end of the season. Although he didn't break many long runs, Hyde surged in the final seven games, rushing for 812 yards and 14 touchdowns.

According to Tony Gerdeman of TheOzone.net, Hyde stated that he's working with Ohio State running back coach Stan Drayton during the offseason to ensure he breaks more big plays.

Coach Drayton has us doing drills where we're making a guy miss. He has a defender during drills who is supposed to be a safety, and we're making a move on him and getting back up the field.

The Buckeyes also have a number of incoming freshmen slated to play the "Percy Harvin role," a running back/wide receiver position that Meyer utilized perfectly during his tenure at Florida. Players such as Dontre WilsonJalin Marshall and even Ezekiel Elliott, all rated 4-star prospects by 247sports.com, were recruited by Meyer for their big-play ability.

Whether Meyer turns to a first-year player or an upperclassman, the Buckeyes need to find another big-play threat. Not only will it make Ohio State's offense more dynamic and explosive, it will also alleviate the pressure put on Miller to carry the load.

 

David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. 
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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