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Make no mistake: It’s Miller Time

September 24, 2011
By RICH GIBSON - Times Leader Sports Writer (rgibson@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

COLUMBUS - Who knows what the outcome might have been in Miami had Luke Fickell pulled the trigger one week earlier?

In his defense, there was not overwhelming evidence to demand true freshman Braxton Miller's insertion into the Buckeyes' starting lineup.

Fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman had proven efficient enough to direct season-opening wins over Akron and Toledo. In week three, though, Bauserman and backup Miller shouldered much of the burden on a steamy south Florida night when OSU's offense generated all of two field goals.

Fickell opted to hand Miller the keys prior to Saturday's matchup againt Colorado and the Huber Heights native helped lead the Bucks to a 37-17 victory.

To be sure, Miller wasted little time bringing back memories (for better or worse) of Terrelle Pryor, improvising a number of broken play scrambles for positive yardage.

Miller arrived on campus regarded as a Pryor clone with big play-making ability, particularly in those situations he succeeded Saturday. Miller logged 17 carries, good for a net 83 yards, one behind junior tailback Jordan Hall.

Fickell opted for the old school line of attack, running the ball 47 times with Miller authoring no more than 13 aerials. He completed five for 83 yards and two scores.

Thus, the jury remains out on OSU's promising plebe who spoke the company line to eager reporters during the post game presser.

Miller's work, however, did command excellent reviews from Buffaloes linebacker Jon Major. "We knew coming in (they) would want to establish him (Miller) as a running threat. Our problam was the fact we missed too many tackles."

Echoed CU's first-year head coach Jon Embree: "On one play, we had four shots at him and couldn't get him down. Give the kid credit. His athleticism gives them another dimension."

Miller's scrambling ability, undeniably, will aid the Buckeyes during critical drives. Unfortunately, the Scarlet & Gray have little chance running the Big Ten table without a formidable passing game.

Expect that aspect to be addressed immediately prior to Saturday's conference opener against Michigan State.

Offered Fickell: "Braxton's our quarterback. We're going to continue to compete in practice and probably try and figure out what it is he does best and what he can handle."

Was Fickell concerned at the number (14) of Braxton's first half rushes? "We're going to have to figure out some self-preservation. But things start to happen," he stated. "We try not to stare much at stats, but we'll take a peek and see where we're at."

Though a newly-installed PAC 12 member, Colorado is miles from anywhere near the conference's elite programs. Entering Saturday's game, the Buffs had already fallen to Hawaii and Cal-Berkeley.

As a result, expect next Saturday's MSU matchup to serve as a more accurate gauge where Miller could possibly take the program.

EXTRA POINTS

SPECIAL teams were an all-day train wreck for Colorado which permitted Hall's 90-yard kickoff return and fumbled a late first half punt, setting up a Drew Basil field goal resulting in s 20-7 halftime lighting....

HALL, the game's leading rusher, had high post game praise for Miller. "He was calm in the huddle. He's going to be special," Hall insisted. "You saw how he made people miss when our blocking broke down..."

COLORADO sustained its 19 consecutive loss on the road dating back to 2007. "This program has a long way to go but we're going to build something here," Embree projected. It didn't help matters CU's average starting possession was at its own 18-yard line. "We faced a long field all day it seemed," Embree advised...

SOPHOMORE defensive back Christian Bryant led the Bucks' defense with a career-high six tackles and one pass break-up. Freshman linebacker Ryan Shazier charted a career-best five stops...

BASIL'S 47-yard field goal in the fourth quarter was the longest of his career....Basil also connected on a career-best three field goals....

FOLLOWING next Saturday's game vs. Michigan State, Ohio State faces consecutive road tests at Nebraska and Illinois before an open date on Oct. 22....

Gibson may be reached at rgibson@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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