Lack of ‘Miller Time’ Has Cheated Buckeyes of Unbeatable Potential

Ohio State is unbeatable.

That was the thought that immediately entered my mind when news broke on the evening of July 23 that Braxton Miller had changed positions to become a full-time wide receiver. And then I texted the same statement to several of my friends, whether they were OSU fans or not.

It was something I truly believed to be correct. The Buckeyes already had the greatest quarterback dilemma in the history of sports – having two Heisman-caliber talents capable of leading the offense to big wins. They already were returning the vast majority of its lineup that was the hottest team in the country at the end of the 2014 season, and with one of the more talented collection of players in recent college football memory. I pictured opposing teams struggling to defend the myriad of offensive weapons that Ohio State could attack them with. In addition to the several blazing fast wide receivers and H-backs on the Buckeyes’ roster – in addition to another Heisman candidate at running back – the placement of arguably the most electric athlete in all of college football on the field to make plays in open space took this offense to an unspeakably high level. So I thought; so we all thought.

Aside from the opener against Virginia Tech, when Miller seemingly put the country on notice – and gave a glimmer of hope for those bold enough to take his initial 50-to-1 Heisman odds – a lot has been left to be desired regarding his game-breaking abilities. And it’s been extremely frustrating. On numerous occasions throughout the season, I found myself contemplating how Miller likely would’ve been used in other offensive systems. I can easily picture him being an absolute monster in some kind of Pac 12 offense – those super-late Saturday night games where he’d have like 300 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns every single week. A highlight machine. But then I snap back into reality, where the most electric athlete in college football has been limited to three receptions or less in nine of 11 games thus far – and often has to run predictably unsuccessful plays from the wildcat quarterback position just to justify another touch. What a shame.

Why can a bunch of other teams around the country take full advantage of their electric athletes, but for some reason, Ohio State coaches are limited to saying things like, “we love Braxton and we want to get him the ball, but the defense just won’t allow it”? Of course, they won’t allow it, he might be the best football player in the country – they’re going to try to remove him from the equation. So your job as an offensive coaching staff is to make Miller part of the question. Force the ball into his hands in a variety of creative ways and make the defense make plays. Run plays like jet sweeps, reverses, screen passes, shovel passes. Why is that so hard? Believe that I am serious when I say this: Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines utilize Jabrill Peppers on offense – in a limited manner – better than Ohio State uses Miller. Peppers’ offensive numbers might not match Miller’s, but at least Michigan uses him in a way that instills fear into a defense, which can’t be said for OSU’s attempts. And what a waste of potential that is.

Here we are in late November, just days away from the big rivalry game every Buckeye fan has been waiting for since the season kicked off, and I can’t help but feel so unaccomplished. It feels like just yesterday I gleefully chatted with friends about how unbeatable Ohio State had become with Miller playing wide receiver. And finally, after 11 games of woefully neglecting his playmaking abilities, we’ve found out the hard truth – without creative playcalling, Ohio State was indeed incredibly beatable this whole time.

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