COLUMBUS — Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer might have found a new way to measure how much quarterback Braxton Miller affects opposing teams.
None of No. 16 Ohio State’s first three opponents have played the defense OSU prepared for and expected.
Miami played a different defense than it used last year and Central Florida and California used different defenses than last year and different from what they had shown in their earlier games this season.
The two most dangerous things Ohio State has done this season are Miller running the ball, followed by Miller throwing the ball to wide receiver Devin Smith.
So, it is no surprise OSU’s early opponents have focused on Miller.
“He’s one of the most dynamic runners in college football,” Meyer said. “That’s not just from me, that’s from some of the people we’ve played already.”
While the ability of one player to make opposing teams alter their defensive strategy is impressive, Meyer knows OSU needs to find more ways to move the ball as it heads into the Big Ten season.
“We are not getting enough big plays in the run game with the exception of our quarterback and that’s got to change,” Meyer said. “We need some highlight reels other than Devin Smith making a great catch. We need some highlight reels from some other players other than Braxton Miller and Devin going up and making a play.”
After Miller carried the football 27 times against Central Florida, there was much concern about overworking him, including Meyer saying that was too many carries.
Last Saturday, he rushed the ball only 12 times. And many people, Meyer included, wondered if that was an overreaction.
This week against Alabama-Birmingham his rushing attempts could fall somewhere in between those two numbers.
“I had a talk with him,” Meyer said. “I had come out and said it was too much, it was too much, it was too much and it was getting back to him. I told him he just needs to go play. It’s not your job to evaluate, just go play.”
Meyer said his idea of a perfect offense would be 250 yard rushing, 250 yards passing and 70 percent on pass completions.
“We need to take shots (on downfield passes). We need to find a guy we can hand the ball to that when a guy hits you, you don’t go down, you get more yards,” he said. “Sometimes guys make something out of nothing or sometimes people pull through tackles. We’re not getting a lot of that but we’re getting it out of No. 5 (Miller).”
OSU offensive coordinator Tom Herman said Miller is still learning when to pitch the ball and when to keep it when an option play is called.
“When it’s gray, not black and white, the tendency for him right now is ‘I’m going to make the play, I trust myself.’ He has probably trusted himself since he was a kid. He was the guy who went and made a play when he was 7 years old,” Herman said.
“He’s getting better with that but when things are gray, he has to realize what that means.”