Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Buckeyes should be bold, play Miller
By Brian Bennett
The Terrelle Pryor era is over. And now, given all the extenuating circumstances, Ohio State should look to begin the Braxton Miller era.
This is not how the Buckeyes normally do things. As Adam wrote on Tuesday night, four-year veteran Joe Bauserman would be the safe choice to replace Pryor at quarterback and seemed like the leading candidate to do just that when Pryor was originally scheduled to miss only the first five games. Bauserman is a 25-year-old former baseball player who's smart, experienced and the kind of player who fits right in with the conservative Tressel-ball style.
Braxton Miller showed off his playmaking ability during the Buckeyes' spring game.
Miller, on the other hand, is a dynamic talent more in the mold of Pryor (on the field only, Buckeyes fans hope). He's also just a true freshman and is bound to make mistakes nearly as often as he makes big plays.
Interim coach Luke Fickell could very well want a rock of stability like Bauserman as the program goes through all kinds of turmoil this season. But he should turn to Miller.
I was at the Ohio State spring game and saw Miller lead the offense on its first two scoring drives, including a 92-yard march. I saw him go 7-for-12 for 73 yards and a score and elude defenders while rushing for 19 yards.
Granted, much of his production that day came against the defensive backups. But there was no denying Miller's athleticism and feel for the game. With star tailback Dan Herron and leading receiver DeVier Posey out for the first five games, Ohio State needs a playmaker at quarterback, not a game manager. The receiving position behind Posey is young and had problems catching the ball this spring, so Miller's ability to make things happen on the move could be a great asset.
There's a bigger picture issue at stake here as well. Let's face it -- this is going to be a transition year at best for the Buckeyes. They're not going to fall to 3-8 or anything like that, but with a new head coach, key players suspended for nearly half the season and the continuing investigation into the program, it's going to be a difficult year in Columbus. Even if Ohio State manages to overcome all those problems and distractions, the team could get slapped with a postseason ban if the NCAA's interminable wheels of justice stop spinning before the end of the year.
And so while Fickell will want to win to give himself a chance at the permanent job and for all the upperclassmen, the Buckeyes also need to start looking toward the future, when all this NCAA mess is hopefully behind them. Putting Miller at the offensive controls gives them a head start on that future.
Hey, Pryor went 8-1 as a starter his freshman season. There are many thing about the Pryor era Ohio State doesn't want to repeat, but starting Miller is the bold and correct choice.