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Miller-led Bucks an ongoing work-in-progress

September 26, 2011
By RICH GIBSON - Times Leader Sports Writer (rgibson@timesleaderonline.com) , Times Leader

Four games into the season and I'm not hearing anyone label Ohio State contenders to win the Big Ten title.

That's not to suggest the Buckeyes won't fare reasonably well over the course of their eight-game conference schedule which begins Saturday when Michigan State visits.

The fact of the matter, however, is this: There is a realistic possibility at least four Big Ten teams will have fared better than the Buckeyes when Thanksgiving leftovers have been served.

That list would include national championship hopeful Wisconsin in addition to the possible likes of Michigan, Michigan State and newcomer Nebraska.

It's now an out-in-the-open matter of fact Luke Fickell will depend on true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller to immediately come of age and lead the offense.

A high price, indeed, to ask of a young man who was taking snaps in high school a year ago today.

True, Miller had his moments, particularly as viable running threat, in last Saturday's victory over an inferior Colorado combine.

Just be advised an 'incomplete' mark will be posted until the 6-3, 210-pound talent has proven he can excel over the long haul, especially against future opponents which will provide a defensive upgrade.

Versus Colorado, Miller was not asked to go to the air with any degree of consistency. Most assuredly by design, of course.

I'd wager a significant amount of practice time this week will be devoted to enhancing Miller's ability to operate from the pocket.

Also to be expected is offensive coordinator Jim Bollman's insertion of additional pass plays to the MSU game plan.

For Miller and his teammates, the Big Ten grind figures to be a long process, starting with this week's much anticipated encounter.

Back-to-back road tests follow at Nebraska and Illinois, respectively before OSU faces an open date leading up to Oct. 29th home field battle with the Badgers.

EXTRA POINTS

FOLLOWING Saturday's win over Colorado, several Buckeyes expressed anticipation regarding conference play.

"I'm ready for the Big Ten season to start," noted defensive lineman John Simon, credited with two pass break-ups against the Buffaloes. "There are a few things we have to correct. We know Michigan State is capable of capitalizing (on opponent's mistakes). So, we'll need to be fully focused and prepared."

Junior defensive back Travis Howard gave the secondary mixed reviews after CU quarterback Tyler Hansen threw for 238 yards and two scores.

"I think they (Colorado) figured us out a little toward the end of the game. We know we'll have to be better (for Michigan State)," Howard advised.

Bucks' senior center Michael Brewster distributed high accolades for Miller's performance under center. "(Braxton) used his natural instincts. That's what I did as a freshman and he was doing it (Saturday). He got a little banged up out there but fought to get as many yards as possible. He maybe should have gotten out of bounds a little more to take away some of the hits, but he showed us, he's a fighter. We've definitely got his back."

BUFFALOES' head coach Jon Embree on his defense's play vs. Miller: "I felt our guys did a decent job, except we did not tackle him well and let him escape too often for extra yardage. When you have a chance to hit a guy for negative yards, you have to find a way to make it happen....."

HARD to believe but a representative of the Capital One Bowl was in the press box Saturday and at halftime, distributed fliers regarding the Jan. 2, 2012 game which will be played at Orlando's Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. That facility, which has seating for 65,438, has undergone a $10 million upgrade over the past year.

The Capital One Bowl matches teams from the Big 10 and SEC following BCS selections....

Gibson may be reached at rgibson@timesleaderonline.com

 
 

 

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