Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has shown the ability to make defenders miss whether he’s in the open field or in tight quarters. Just don’t expect him to tell you how he does it.
He pulled off one of the highlights of the college football season last year against Penn State — on a one-yard touchdown run. He intended to hand off to Carlos Hyde, but a defensive lineman blew up the first option. Miller then kept the ball, stepped back to dodge two Nittany Lions and then did a head-first leap into the end zone.
Asked about the play last week going into the rematch with Penn State, Miller said: “That was like a blur. I have no idea how that happened. It was supposed to go to Carlos, but I said, ‘Wow, I’d better grab this and see what I can do with it.’ Something amazing happened after I grabbed it.”
Though he missed almost three full games with a knee injury earlier this year, Miller is becoming the Swiss Army knife of quarterbacks again: He can do it all.
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman said before the season he wanted Miller to be able to complete 70 percent of his passes but would settle for something above 65. Going into the Nittany Lion game, Miller was at 69.6 percent — a big jump from his 58.3 clip last season.
The most positive sign from the coaches, though, is seeing Miller starting to have fun again. He admitted last week he was feeling burdened by expectations going into the season.
“I feel sometimes all the pressure is on me, and it weighs on me,” he said.
But through talking with his father, Kevin, and several discussions with Herman, Miller played with a smile through the Iowa game last week, completing a career-high 22 passes in 27 attempts and finishing with 324 yards of total offense (rushing and passing).
“I felt like I had to be perfect,” Miller said. “We went 12-0 last year and (there was) the Heisman talk and all of that. I just had to let that go out the door.”
Coach Urban Meyer has noticed a difference.
“Anybody playing this game needs to have fun,” Meyer said. “Coaches have a tendency to make it un-fun because it’s work, work, work. I think we do a good job of (avoiding) that around here, and Tom does a great job.”