Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Miller getting better one pass at a time
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The target was going to be the same regardless, but there were two different ways to think about hitting it.
Looking at Braxton Miller's completion numbers a year ago compared to where Ohio State wanted them to be this season, the percentages might have made the expected improvement seem somewhat daunting.
Braxton Miller has raised his completion percentage from 58.3 percent last season to 70.6 in 2013.
But rather than focusing on trying to turn himself from a quarterback with 58-percent accuracy into an efficient 70-percent passer, there was a another option as the No. 4 Buckeyes approached an offseason overhaul of their junior quarterback and his mechanics. Rather than worry about making what might have seemed like a significant statistical jump, Miller instead could think about completing just one more pass out every 10 throws if that helped simplify the issue.
"You think you go from 58 to 68, you're talking about 10 more completions out of 100 attempts," offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. "One out of every 10, just one more completion.
"Our goal would be 70 percent at the end of the day. I think that's fairly realistic."
At his current rate, maybe the Buckeyes actually should have asked for a little more.
Known during his first two seasons with the program primarily as a rushing threat with the ability to mix in the pass, Miller clearly has developed into a much more balanced and far more dangerous weapon at quarterback this year, hitting his statistical and literal targets with a completion percentage of 70.6 in his six starts.
Thanks in large part to all the work he has done to fine-tune his mechanics, absorb the playbook and dedicate himself to breaking down defenses, Miller has turned himself into the ideal dual-threat in Urban Meyer's offense. The polish he has added to the passing attack makes it close to impossible to defend him since he has gotten healthy after an early-season knee sprain.
"Fundamentally, he's a much better player than he was a year ago and [has more] knowledge of the offense," Meyer said. "Those two things, I see it every day.
"You've got to figure up to this point where Braxton was. Last year was his second system in two seasons as a quarterback, and now he's in the same one with the same coach. Same system for two years, you should be better.
"But he's really better. I anticipated he would be better. He's better than better."
Even while exceeding expectations since returning from a nearly three-game absence and carving up the Big Ten, throwing for 11 touchdowns against one interception and increasing his passing yardage in every successive outing, the Buckeyes still see more room to grow.
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Miller had a few indecisive moments in the pocket against Penn State on Saturday, which Meyer was quick to point out on film. There were a handful of occasions where he wasn't able to find his check-down option and get the football out of his hands.
But the good definitely outweighed the bad, as he completed 18 of his 24 attempts for 252 yards and three touchdowns. Although, the Buckeyes already know it doesn't hurt to ask for a little more from Miller.
"I'm very comfortable right now," Miller said. "I know what I'm doing. Reading the defensive coverage, I know where the guys are going to be, I know how to adjust the routes sometimes. You know, it's just exciting to get the ball in the hands of those guys and see them do something with it.
"Getting a year under coach Meyer and the offense, I'm just learning. With the little mistakes I make, every game I'm just trying to improve myself and show everyone what I've got."
One extra completion at a time, that improvement is getting pretty hard to miss.