Sunday, October 28, 2012
Miller shows Xbox factor at PSU
By Austin Ward
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- There were some accuracy issues as a passer.
At times, Braxton Miller looked a bit hesitant as a rusher.
The Ohio State quarterback has certainly had performances with more eye-catching numbers, and signature moments typically cover a bit more than 1 yard officially in the box score.
But when it mattered most, Miller was as sharp as ever, dropping in a 72-yard touchdown strike through the air. When the Buckeyes needed gritty conversions or a spark on the ground, he supplied them on the way to 134 yards. There was also a head-turning number on the scoreboard Saturday as Ohio State dispatched surging Penn State with a huge second half in a 35-23 win at Beaver Stadium.
As for those measly 3 feet Miller picked up to put his team in control over the Nittany Lions, all he did was turn that short gain into perhaps college football's most electrifying 1-yard score this season and add to a resume that seems certain to earn him an invitation to the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
"You just don't see athletes do that, period, let alone the quarterback," wide receiver Jake Stoneburner said. "I don't know how to put that play into words.
"I don't even think he was supposed to pull it [from running back Carlos Hyde]. He just made a heck of a play, a juke, a dive -- the guys on the sideline had their eyes wide open, mouths were dropped. It was like a play you've never seen a guy make."
In leading the Buckeyes to nine consecutive wins, Miller has turned in several plays already this season that few others at any position could match. And if his latest entry for the highlight reel isn't his masterpiece, it's at least on the short list.
After saving Hyde from a sure loss by deciding to yank it out of his stomach and keep it, Miller was seemingly strung out by the Nittany Lions as he moved to his right at the 5. From there, he jumped back a few more yards on a cut to elude another tackler. And then, with three defenders collapsing on him as he headed toward the goal line, Miller somehow contorted himself in the air to avoid contact and find the end zone and send Ohio State on its way to yet another victory.
It was his second trip to the end zone in the game. Earlier he had become a 1,000-yard rusher for the season -- a first in Urban Meyer's decorated coaching career. And he capped it all off with one more big contribution, hitting Stoneburner on a third-down toss that erased whatever drama was left midway through the fourth quarter -- and get himself on a plane to New York.
He's like a player you'd create in a video game.
-- Ohio State right guard Marcus Hall, on QB Braxton Miller
"He just does amazing stuff," right guard Marcus Hall said. "That makes our job that much easier, man. When you're on the field with a guy who can do that, it makes you want to do your job 10 times harder just because he's going to do his job and get it done.
"He's like a player you'd create in a video game."
Even though the Buckeyes have seen Miller pull off his tricks in real life throughout the season, they're no less impressed. Same goes for his coaches, who apparently passed along their superlatives to Meyer through his headset since he didn't have a good view of the 1-yarder on the field.
Other potential Heisman candidates boosted their cause Saturday as well, either with another blowout win or a dynamic punt return or a game-sealing interception in an upset on the road. But the Buckeyes obviously wouldn't trade their guy for any of those others.
"That's why we love having him at quarterback," Stoneburner said. "He can do that at any point in the game.
"He can make a play at any time, so it never feels like we're behind at any point in the game because we have someone like that who can take us in there."
Sometimes he has to take Ohio State a longer distance, but either way Miller arrives in style.
|Braxton Miller punctuated his highlight-reel run with a dive into the end zone in the third quarter at Penn State.|