Ohio State does not have a game this week. The 10-0 Buckeyes get to enjoy a brief respite before they get back to work at Wisconsin next Saturday (Nov. 17, 3:30 p.m., ABC).
Miller runs vs. Illinois
But one Buckeye was at work spreading the word on Monday night as sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller was the subject of his first teleconference for national writers. Miller has emerged as a possible Heisman Trophy and Big Ten MVP candidate after leading the Buckeyes to 10 wins to start the season.
Some notables from OSU on Miller:
* He ranks 15th nationally with 116.6 rushing yards per game and he is only the third different Big Ten Conference quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He has 1,166 yards, 13 touchdowns and a 6.3 per carry average.
* Miller and teammate Carlos Hyde share the rushing load. Miller averages 18.4 carries per game, Hyde averages 18.0 and combined they are the No. 2 rushing duo in the country at 208.7 yards per game with 26 rushing touchdowns.
* Miller ranks 22nd nationally in total offense with 291.9 yards per game, a total that is on pace to shatter the Ohio State single season average of 270.6 set by Joe Germaine in 1998.
* His 27 touchdowns responsible for are four from the Ohio State record of 31 (Troy Smith in 2006 and Bobby Hoying in 1995).
Those are all impressive numbers, but Miller said he doesn’t get caught up in them.
“Nah, I really don’t pay attention to that unless somebody comes up and tells me about them,” he said. “Whatever they say, I just say, ‘That’s cool.’ ”
During the teleconference, Miller was asked about how he deals with talk about the Heisman.
“Man, it’s tough,” he said. “A lot of guys come to me about it. I try not to talk about it because I don’t like talking about myself. I just have to keep working at the things I have to get better at.”
Troy Smith, who won the Heisman at OSU in 2006, made a comment this past weekend that Miller could eventually go down as the best quarterback ever at Ohio State. That struck a chord with Miller.
“It means a lot,” Miller said. “Troy Smith was an all-around quarterback and a complete quarterback. Before I came here, I watched him. Coming from him, that means a lot.”
Has Smith ever counseled Miller?
“Yeah, he tells me to make sure I get completions and I get everybody involved and make sure I be a good leader when I step on to the field,” he said.
Because of his penchant for running the ball, Miller has been knocked out of several games. He took a hard spill against Purdue that landed him briefly in the hospital.
But he said Monday night, “I’m absolutely healthy. Every time I come in after practice, I ice my arm and I make sure I get a heat pack on it. I make sure to take care of it.”
Miller struggled and only hit 7 of 19 pass attempts in OSU’s win at Penn State. He came back this past Saturday and completed 12 of 20 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. He said that offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tom Herman was instrumental in getting him to focus on his footwork.
“Sometimes throughout the season, you lose some of your mechanics,” Miller said. “You’re going over the defense and what the opponents are running and you don’t go over your individual things you have to work on to get better.
“This last game, I felt more complete as a quarterback throwing the ball. My feet were more compact under my body.”
Miller was asked who he spends the most time with in practice – Herman or head coach Urban Meyer.
“It’s mostly Coach Herman,” he said. “Coach Meyer jumps around. He goes to the receivers, the DBs, the defensive line. He makes his way around all throughout practice.”
* A national reporter asked Miller if there was regret on the team that OSU did not take its postseason ban last year – a move that potentially would have made the Buckeyes eligible for a championship this season.
“Things have happened and we have to take (the punishment),” Miller said. “Throughout the season, Coach Meyer and the boys on the team wanted to let the seniors go out with a good season. Bad things happened last season. We wanted to fix it and make sure we did the right things this year.
“We go out there and play our game and execute our plays and try to get better each week. We just want to take it one game at a time.”
* A reporter from Miller’s hometown of Dayton asked for the rationale for his move from Springfield to Huber Heights, where he started at quarterback for 3-1/2 years for coach Jay Minton at Wayne High School.
“My father wanted me to move,” he said. “I guess it was so I would have a better chance to go to college. I think it turned out good. I got a good education and I got to meet a new set of guys there. I think it was a good fit for me.”
Miller confirmed he will be back in Dayton during the open weekend.
“I always go back and see my coaches and my teachers,” he said. “I try to show my face. I try and stay in touch with the people I played with.”
* Miller talked about adapting to the spread offense.
“I knew coming with Coach Meyer and his offense some exciting things would happen,” he said. “I think it’s been a good fit for us and I’m looking to finish up the season.
“I think we have improved from camp. All of the guys are stepping up and getting better at their craft. I think everybody is getting more comfortable.”
“With those two backs around me, I know it’s going to go well,” he said. “I feel comfortable with that and the triple option as well.”
* Miller said he spent Saturday night channel surfing between the Alabama-LSU and Oregon-USC games. He was watching Alabama to see his former Springfield childhood friend Trey DePriest at linebacker for the Crimson Tide.
When asked which player impressed him, he pointed out USC receiver Marqise Lee.
“(Lee) plays all the receiver positions, X to Z,” Miller said. “He plays inside or outside. He’s on kickoff return. He’s explosive. He catches all the balls that come his way.”
* When asked which one play Miller is most proud of, he pointed to his amazing 1-yard touchdown run last week at Penn State.
“I’d say the one last week at Penn State,” he said. “It wasn’t a designed keep or a designed read. It was a handoff to Carlos. The player bull rushed and came through. I pulled it on my own and Carlos got tackled. I took it on my own. I made some type of move and made somebody miss and I dove into the end zone.”
* And asked what he has improved upon the most this year, Miller had an easy answer.
“I think leadership,” he said. “Coming from last year as a young guy and a freshman, I really didn’t know how to take that role. But I think this year, I’m building on it and getting better at it each and every week.
“The quarterback always has to be vocal and tell guys what they’re doing wrong. You have to pat them on the shoulder and say, ‘Keep it up.’ If they mess up, you say, ‘Hey, man, don’t worry about it. We’ll get it on the next drive. I’ll come back to you.’ ”
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