Quarterback Braxton Miller, recovering from surgery on his right shoulder, has been made to stand and watch — though wearing a video camera on his cap — as Ohio State dives into spring practice.
But even before the impromptu decision two weeks ago to undergo an outpatient arthroscopic procedure, this spring was going to be about the big picture for Miller. Now to get that picture, the senior will have self-shot video, complete with narration, to help widen his scope, even though he won’t be taking snaps for a while.
“They’ve got a contraption set up where he actually calls the play, he also tells us what he sees in the secondary,” coach Urban Meyer said. “The issue, if you remember, a year ago was fundamentals with footwork, and balance, and just ball positioning.
“His issues now are verbal communication and keeping his eyes on the secondary. So every play we’re having him say what he sees. It will be a productive spring. He’s into it right now.”
Not that talking trumps taking snaps.
“If he doesn’t have a good summer, it will cost him a lot” after missing spring practice, Meyer said. “He will be a very average player. So I think he understands his weaknesses. It’s verbal, and it’s keeping his eyes on the secondary.”
With the cap cam fashioned by the team’s director of video Mark Quisenberry, Miller can at least work on those two things while he recuperates. He suffered a sprained shoulder on Jan. 3 in the Orange Bowl, a loss to Clemson. Meyer said the preferred treatment at first was to let it heal on its own. When that didn’t happen, the decision was made to undergo surgery.
Although it was minimally invasive, it still required poking a hole in Miller’s body where one hadn’t been. Considering he has started the past three seasons, there was no urgency for him to take snaps in the spring, though Miller did tweet yesterday, “Shoulder is healing up fast!”
But it’s the head game where Meyer and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tom Herman wanted to see Miller improve on the most.
Herman pointed out that Miller won the Chicago Tribune Silver Football as Big Ten MVP as a sophomore because of the spectacular plays he made. He repeated in 2013 because he had progressed to being a stout overall quarterback, “a very good trajectory,” as Herman put it.
“Probably as improved as he got in the mental side of playing quarterback, he still can get a whole lot better, can probably make that same leap this year and still have work to do,” Herman said. “It’s just the constant studying of the game, studying of the defense, studying of the plays.
“I told him ‘You don’t want to memorize it like you’re taking a test tomorrow. You want to know it, so that at any given point tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, I can say, ‘Hey, show me where Sam (linebacker) goes in cover 3, but now what about cover 2,’ and then, boom, just get on the (whiteboard) and go. I think he’s getting to that point where all that stuff is slowing down.”
The cap-cam video and audio, which Herman and his graduate assistant will review, will offer some insight on Miller’s progress. But Meyer said the proof will come when Miller steps back into the pocket, where the ability to keep one’s eyes above the chaos just in front of him is the great divide between average and good.
“That’s why there’s a lot of average quarterbacks out there,” Meyer said. “You’ve got to be a tough nut to stand back there and have a pass rush coming on, and you still keep your eyes downfield. I’d say it’s probably typical of every quarterback I’ve been around (to make that rise). You’ve got to fight your way through that.”