Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Big Ten Heisman watch: Week 11
By Brian Bennett
With just a few weeks left before Heisman Trophy votes are due, we can safely say that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is one of the leading candidates.
Miller ranks No. 5 in ESPN.com's latest Heisman Watch poll, and he's been in the top five of that balloting most of the season. The sophomore had a typical day at the office last week against Illinois, throwing for 226 yards and two touchdowns and running for 73 more yards and another score.
Miller has this week off and then two more games to impress voters. But one thing he's not going to do is stump for his own candidacy. Ohio State held a teleconference with reporters to talk to Miller on Monday night, in part to increase his profile, but he admitted he feels uncomfortable at times in the Heisman spotlight.
"Man, it's tough," he said. "A lot of guys come to me about it, and I try not to talk about it because I don’t really like talking about myself,” Miller said. “It's a wonderful thing. I’ve just got to keep working hard and get better at the things I want to get better at. Whatever happens, happens.”
He has run for 1,166 yards and 13 touchdowns and thrown for 1,753 yards and 14 scores. If he accounts for eight more touchdowns in his final two games, he'll hold the single-season record at Ohio State, and he's already the first Buckeyes quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. But Miller says he doesn't look at his stats and only knows about his numbers when people bring them up to him.
"I don't even pay attention to that," he said. "Whatever they say, I'm like, 'OK, that's cool.'"
Asked what player around the country has caught his eye this season, Miller mentioned USC receiver Marqise Lee.
"He plays all the positions -- X, Z, inside, outside, kickoff return," Miller said. "He's explosive. He catches all the balls that come his way."
What could Miller do with a receiver like that? Head coach Urban Meyer has said his quarterback needs to improve dramatically as a passer. Miller showed better signs of that against Illinois, completing 12 of 20 attempts, including a 51-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith.
"The last game, I felt more compete as a quarterback, throwing the ball," he said. "My feet were more compact under my body and things like that."
If he can continue to improve his passing fundamentals, Miller will become an even better player. Which is a scary thought, since he's already a legitimate Heisman contender.
My ESPN.com Heisman Watch ballot this week:
1. Kansas State QB Collin Klein
2. Oregon RB Kenjon Barner
3. Alabama QB AJ McCarron
5. Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o