Friday, August 3, 2012
Eyes are wide open
By Austin Ward BuckeyeNation
Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller said he feels a lot more comfortable as a leader as he begins his sophomore season.
The alarm went off early.
The first workout of training camp was slated for 6 a.m., and Braxton Miller rolled out of bed at 4:30 on Friday morning, making sure he had enough time to grab some breakfast before hitting the practice field.
Just 10 minutes later, another wake-up call came for the Ohio State quarterback. But Miller didn't need offensive coordinator Tom Herman to get him up or motivated as the Buckeyes went to work.
Unlike at this time a year ago, Miller is unquestionably the face of the Ohio State offense. And he apparently doesn't need anybody to check in to make sure he's taking that responsibility seriously.
"I feel a lot different," Miller said after the veterans finished their split-squad session. "My body is changing, my attitude and leadership is all coming together.
"I had a talk with the coaches like, 'How can I be a good leader and how can I influence people on the team?' I was a freshman last year, so it was kind of odd. This year I feel a lot better after getting a year under my belt, I just feel a lot better talking to the coaches."
Miller still might not be the most vocal player with his teammates, though that's not necessarily for lack of effort or desire.
Despite benefiting from plenty of early playing time a season ago, Miller still is only a sophomore -- and there are older, more experienced voices that remain louder than his even though he's in charge of the huddle.
But more confidence simply calling out the protections and the plays is a fine starting place for Miller, and the rest of the leadership he can try to provide by example as he continues to absorb a spread offense that appears ideally suited for his physical skills.
"Braxton is a leader," running back Carlos Hyde said. "He doesn't speak too much, though. He's a leader through his actions and stuff.
"I mean, [the voice] is probably there, but I feel like we have older guys who have been here longer than Braxton and kind of have their leadership over him a little bit even though he's the quarterback. For example, the center, Corey Linsley, he's been around here for a nice amount of time, so he's kind of like the leader out there also. But Braxton does his part, so it works out fine."
Considering his position, Miller's part of the offense is obviously going to be critical as the Buckeyes transition to the spread and a more up-tempo attack that will lean heavily on his multipurpose ability.
It will also rely on him to be a more efficient and accurate passer, which Miller readily acknowledged was a key part of his offseason as he focused on his footwork and becoming less "jittery" in the pocket.
But Miller clearly was working on more than physical development over the summer, beginning with those conversations about improving his communication with the coaching staff. And while the maturation process isn't remotely over yet and there's still a long way to go before the Buckeyes even get to play a game, Miller already has made clear that he has no issue accepting all the responsibilities that come with playing his position.
"I'm cool with it," Miller said. "I'm learning each and every day with it. ... everything [is on him] -- everything. If I mess up a pass or something, that's on me. A receiver drops it, that's on me. I'll take [blame for] anything that happens bad on offense; it's in my hands.
"You know, coming in as a freshman, it's just so different. I didn't really feel comfortable doing that. I feel comfortable this year."
Miller seemingly couldn't wait for it to start either. A starting quarterback apparently doesn't need a snooze button or a wake-up call.