COLUMBUS – Somewhere between his knee injury and Kenny Guiton’s unexpectedly brilliant work in relief at quarterback for Ohio State, Braxton Miller acquired a few critics and doubters.
But his coach certainly isn’t among them.
When OSU coach Urban Meyer was asked what he saw from his junior quarterback last week during an off week for the Buckeyes, he said, “I wanted to see and I did see a guy who recognized his mistakes and wants to correct them.”
The mistakes Meyer referred to were Miller’s two fumbles and an interception in Ohio State’s 40-30 win at Northwestern.
He said Miller was not as conscious of ball security as he should have been and that it was not the first time this problem had appeared. But he gave Miller a solid grade overall in the Northwestern game.
Meyer called the fourth quarter, when Miller completed four consecutive passes on the drive that put OSU ahead to stay “a powerful statement of what kind of quarterback he can be.”
In the three full games he has played, Miller has completed 64 percent of his passes for an average of 193 yards a game and has twice as many touchdown passes as interceptions (6-3).
A year ago at the halfway point of the season, he was completing 61 percent of his passes for an average of 176 yards a game and had three times as many TD passes as interceptions (9-3).
NOVELTY ACT?: Even before the season started, Ohio State’s players and fans were excited about speedy freshman Dontre Wilson.
At the Big Ten media days in Chicago in July, Miller said, “I feel like he better be starting this year.
“He can run any route, he can come in the backfield and take a handoff. He can catch the ball and he bolts like a little fish running from the sharks or something. He’s fast man. I’m glad to have him on my team.”
But after getting 20 touches in the first three games, Wilson has handled the ball only six times in the last three games and did not touch the ball at Northwestern two weeks ago, the last time the Buckeyes played.
Probably the biggest thing holding Wilson back is that at 175 pounds and a few months out of high school, he struggles as a blocker. And opposing defenses recognize that.
“Dontre is a valuable guy. The problem is he’s a novelty right now as opposed to a fulltime player,” Meyer said. “Fulltime players have to go block Sam linebackers and those kind of things, and he is not quite ready. But we are working at it, there are other ways that we can be creative in getting him involved.
“He works hard. You know this time next year he’s going to be rocked up, a 350-pound benching guy. We hope. Percy (Harvin) was a 400-pound benching guy that when he blocked you, he blocked you. So that’s where we have to get with him,” Meyer said.
NO BIG ADVANTAGE: Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock is a pre-medicine major with a 4.0 grade point average.
When Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was asked on the Big Ten coaches teleconference Tuesday if that was an advantage for his quarterback, he said, “I’ve coached engineers, and they could build bridges but they couldn’t correlate that to football.”
NO FOND MEMORIES: When Ferentz was asked about Iowa’s last trip to Ohio Stadium, a 27-24 overtime loss in 2009 that kept the Hawkeyes from making their first Rose Bowl trip since 1991, he had a one word description.
“Disappointing,” he said. Prodded to expand on that, he said, “It was a great football game. Both teams competed at a high level. It was a great atmosphere.”
Devin Barclay’s 39-yard field goal won the 2009 game for OSU.
STEALTH WEAPONS?: Receiver Corey Brown says Ohio State’s offense “is headed in a good direction” and predicted Monday that “by the end of the year we’ll be a ridiculous offense.”
He also alluded to “a couple other players” he wouldn’t identify but who he said might get some playing time the second half of the season.
“There have been a couple other players who have been practicing really well lately. Coach Meyer and I have talked about it and we feel like if they keep practicing the way they have, they can potentially see time on the field. It’s a couple of young guys. I can’t really say names but you’ll see them on the field if they play,” he said.