In Meyer’s newly implemented spread offense, the quarterback will have to be letter perfect with his reads and execution.
“In our offense, (the quarterback) can’t have a bad day,” Meyer said. “He really can’t have a bad snap. We don’t have a play in the offense where he takes the snap, hands off and watches the play. Every play he has to get us in the right play, make sure the formation is set and he’s usually reading a defender.
“There is a lot of pressure on him.”
The Buckeyes opened fall camp today with the returning players arriving as early as 5 a.m. for a morning session. (The incoming freshmen are practicing this afternoon.)
Miller had a chance to meet with the media after that practice and was asked about having so much responsibility on his shoulders.
“I’m cool with it,” he said. “I’m learning each and every day. You just don’t want to mess up. You feel like you have to do everything right, so that’s what I want to do. I want to do everything right and if I mess up I just have to correct it.”
But can it be too much for a guy just starting his second year on campus?
“Nah, I love the pressure,” Miller said. (In the video above, Miller talks about the first day and his high expectations.)
Miller was the Big Ten freshman of the year last season
The 6-2, 210-pound Miller arrived at OSU from Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne last year amid much fanfare as the nation’s No. 2-ranked quarterback in the 2011 class. It took him four games to unseat fifth-year senior Joe Bauserman as the starting quarterback.
He started the season’s last 10 games, posting a 4-6 record as the starter. But Miller, a dual threat specialist, did earn Big Ten freshman of the year honors as well as several national freshman accolades. He completed 54.1 percent of his passes (85 of 157) for 1,159 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also led the Buckeyes in rushing with 715 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
Miller was indoctrinated into Meyer’s spread offense this spring and seemed to handle that transition very well. In an indoor scrimmage, Miller unofficially completed 25 of 34 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions and also rushed for one score. In the spring game, Miller was 24 of 31 passing for 258 yards with an interception in leading his team to the win. He has been named to the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award.
On Friday, he was asked how he has grown and developed since the end of last season.
“I feel like my body is changing and I think my attitude and leadership are coming together,” he said. “I had a talk with the coaches and I asked them how I can be a good leader and how I can influence people on the team. Since I was a freshman last year, it was kind of odd. But I think I have a year under my belt and I felt better after talking to the coaches.”
Meyer said he recognizes a difference in Miller just from when he met him for the first time last November after taking the OSU job.
“I think it’s just a maturity level of going from being a true freshman to a sophomore,” Meyer said. “Great is probably not a strong enough word to describe him in terms of absorbing, wanting to be a leader and wanting to do things the right way. I’ve been very impressed.”
Miller will be playing for new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tom Herman, who had the same position at Iowa State last year.
Miller met with the media after Friday's first practice
“(Herman) has given me a bunch of knowledge, like how to read a defensive front,” Miller said. “I’m just more comfortable. I know what I’m doing and coming along with that and some leadership. I’m calling out the protection. I’m making the command.”
Miller admitted his 4 a.m. wake-up call – including a phone call from Herman – did come awfully early.
“It was cool to get up and get ready,” Miller said. “When you wake up, you’re up. It doesn’t matter what time you get up.
“Seven months ago, we were out here at 5 o’clock in the morning and working out. To come out here today at 5 o’clock again, everybody was hyped and energized for the first practice. Everything was good.”
The Buckeyes are ineligible for a bowl game or the Big Ten championship this season. That’s OK, Miller said. The goal for this team is very simple.
“The goal is the same every year,” he said. “There is nothing less. You want to win every game. You want to go out and show them you’re Ohio State. You don’t want to lose. We have to set the tone.
“The expectations are always high. When I was in high school and looking at Ohio State, I was like, ‘They aren’t never going to lose. They’re always going to be good.’ ”
One way the Buckeyes can improve off last year’s 6-7 mark will be through an improved passing game. The Buckeyes were a dismal 115th out of 120 Division I-A teams in passing offense. That aspect of the offense will improve if Miller and his receivers can work together.
“All the guys during the spring and after the spring and into summer workouts, that’s what we worked on,” Miller said. “Everybody is coming together. It will just take some more days and it will be good. I worked on my accuracy and stepping through the throw.”
One player to watch could be freshman Michael Thomas, who Miller hit 12 times during the spring game in April.
“We played together in the All-American game down in Florida (in 2011),” Miller said. “Coming from California to Ohio, he had to make a big transition. He works hard, too.”
Speaking on Friday, OSU cornerback Bradley Roby gave Miller some high praise.
“He just has that game changing ability,” Roby said. “That’s what it comes down to. You never know when he can break a long run. I’ve said it before but I think he is one of the best scramblers since Michael Vick.
“He’s very important. He’s the quarterback and that is the most important position on the field. Our whole season rests on him.”
When told of Roby’s comment, Miller just laughed.
“Did he say Michael Vick as a college player or as a pro?” Miller joked. “That’s a tough one. I don’t know about that.”
But Miller knows he has the ability to break a defense down if he has to.
“If the pocket (collapses) and I have to use my feet, I will do that and make something happen,” he said. “If it comes down to that, I will definitely make a good play out of it.”
More From First Day
Also, click here for today's edition of the Boarding House with a note on Miller.
Stay tuned for a feature on Hyde.
Notes From OSU On First Practice
At 6 a.m. Friday morning Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, his coaching staff and about 60 or so veterans in the football program hit the practice fields at the Harmon Family Football Park. The 2012 football season is upon us.
The practice activities, with players in shorts, spikes, mesh jerseys and helmets, consisted of stretching, running and spirited drill work. The two FieldTurf fields were in use. Former Ohio State coach Earle Bruce, a longtime mentor to Meyer, sat in a chair at the base of a huge tower in the north end zone of field No. 3 and watched.
It was a good day.
“Everybody was executing plays, on defense and offense,” said sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby. “Everything was crisp.”
“When we came out here in the spring we had no clue,” junior running back Carlos Hyde said, commenting on the first days learning a new offensive scheme. “Today, we were pretty sharp.”
“Everyone was energized,” sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller said. “Everything was good.”
No freshmen took part in this first practice. They, along with some walk-on upperclassmen to boost the numbers, will take the field for the first time in 2012 at 5:30 Friday evening. Afterward, the players will enjoy a 48-hour break before a team dinner Sunday evening and practice No. 2 of the season: Monday at 4 p.m.
Three players sported or will sport new numbers today: sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby is now wearing jersey No. 1; freshman defensive lineman Se’von Pittman will be in No. 95; and senior linebacker Ross Oltorik is wearing No. 20.
New Numbers II
Roby said the summer conditioning program run by head strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti was “high intensity” every day and that the team grew closer through the workouts. He also said the workouts helped him gain five pounds of muscle while at the same time lowering his 4.40 40-yard dash speed to a really quick 4.39.
“…And I ran the 4.39 twice,” Roby said, “so it wasn’t a fluke.”
And a few more notes…
Sophomore Chase Farris practiced in a scarlet jersey with the offensive linemen today. … Braxton Miller set his alarm for 4:30 a.m. And then 10 minutes later he got a call from his position coach Tom Herman, who was just making sure his quarterback was up and about. He was. … Bradley Roby said enthusiasm on the team is high and that the team is “a hungry team and an ambitious team.” … Miller called senior running back Jordan Hall’s cut foot injury a freak accident and said he hopes he’s back for the first game. Carlos Hyde said it was unfortunate and “bad that Jordan is out,” but that he was looking forward to the opportunity to play…“similar to last year.” Hyde started the first three games last season and rushed for 223 of his 549 yards on the season in the three games.