Braximus Decimus Meridius: Columbus' Fabled Son Returns
Right now, I can only imagine that the mood in the Ohio State locker room is something like this:
This time last year, Braxton Miller announced that his shoulder would end his chances of playing in the 2014 season. Many commentators thought that this would also be the end of the Buckeyes National Championship hopes. The other options at QB were the then unproven redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, who's only claim to fame was an infamous tweet about not playing school. Barrett came out with guns blazing, taking out team after team (except Virginia Tech... But revenge is nigh) until an injury took him out for the season as well. Again, it appeared the Buckeyes' title hopes were gone. Then Jones took over and led absolute beatdowns of Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon. And now, after months of constant discussion about which of the three will start at quarterback for Ohio State, the situation has become much less complicated. A few days ago, Miller announced that he would no longer play QB and has opted into a HB/WR hybrid role.
Unless you're an Ohio State fan, you're probably asking yourself how this whole thing is even fair. The Buckeyes offense will consist of potential Heisman candidates Jones or Barrett, or both, under center, potential Heisman candidate Ezekiel Elliot in the backfield, and then Miller, who's probably the most explosive athlete in the NCAA, lining up on the side (Or should I refer to him as Braxton? Is he a first-name only caliber player? I guess that's a topic for a different article). Additionally, Miller is by far the best runner of the three quarterbacks and probably the worst of the three at passing the ball -- especially coming off a shoulder injury.
Obviously, it's hard to compare Jones, as he's only started three games, but it's clear that Miller doesn't have the same cannon attached to his torso that Jones does. Compared to Barrett, however, Miller has considerably worse stats passing-wise. But that was never really Miller's game when he was playing quarterback. The advantage he had was the extreme element of surprise; every defense he played against was no doubt nervous about the fluidity of the offense with Miller at the throne. To add this aspect to a significantly improved passing offense with Barrett is almost revolutionary. We also know just how dangerous he can be when given space to create.
Plus, this guarantees you have one of the best athletes in Ohio State history on the field to use in any which way Urban Meyer desires. Just think of the offensive schemes in which the most creative coach in the country can put these players. The trick-play potential is astronomical. Remember that play the Buckeyes ran before halftime in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama? Yes? Well, watch it again anyway.
Now imagine this play with Miller, who is without a doubt a better passer than Evan Spencer -- not that Spencer's throw on this play was poor, by the way). This could happen every game. This could even happen multiple times a game! Who knows what's going to come of this? All I can guarantee is that Meyer is going go nuts with the playbook.
Quick look at how Ohio State might line 'em up on offense: pic.twitter.com/rya1LCjnKy— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) July 24, 2015
An added plus for Miller himself is that this move helps his NFL draft stock immensely because -- let's face it -- Miller was most likely never going to be an NFL quarterback. He's the prototypical athlete who's extremely successful at QB in college before he attempts to try in the NFL but just can't stick. Terrelle Pryor, former Buckeye QB, is a solid example of this. But as a HB/WR hybrid, Miller is extremely valuable to NFL teams. If he manages to play well this season, he could shoot up the draft boards. However, realistically, expectations shouldn't be too high at the beginning of the season, as there is sure to be a learning curve for Miller to push through.
And somehow, if all of this fails, the Buckeyes still have Joey Bosa and the rest of the great Buckeye front seven on the other side of the ball. ¯_(ツ)_/¯