Tackle Braxton Miller

Ohio State is a five point favorite going into this week's game against Nebraska Saturday night in Columbus. On paper, that might be a surprise given that the Huskers have been better in every major offensive category, in the return game, and in a number of the major defensive categories. NU's negative turnover margin and the tough environment at OSU are certainly reasons to like the Buckeyes. The single biggest asset for Ohio St. though has got to be Heisman candidate Braxton Miller.

 

NU's offense will be tested again this week. Once again they face a strong rushing defense, a good scoring defense, and a pass defense that gives up yards but has still made the opposition inefficient. Add the noise in the Horseshoe, and it will be a challenge to put points on the board.

That pales compared to the challenge that awaits the NU defense. Dual-threat quarterbacks have been kryptonite to Bo Pelini's defenses over the years. You won't find many that run better than OSU's Braxton Miller. Last season, he gave the Buckeyes a big lead in Lincoln. The Huskers would come back to win that game, but that may not have happened if Miller hadn't left the game with an injury. Now healthy, he's averaging 115 yards rushing per game with over 6 yards per carry and 7 rushing touchdowns. He's also passing for 187 yards per game with a 63% completion rate and 8 scores against 3 picks.

When you look at Ohio State's offense overall, it's not quite as intimidating. Jordan Hall, OSU's top running back to date left last week's game against Michigan State with an injury. He's only tallied 218 yards on the year with 1 touchdown. Carlos Hyde, his likely replacement, has 158 yards and 2 scores. Wide receiver Philly Brown leads their team in receptions with 32 for 317 yards and a touchdown, Devin Smith has been the big play guy with 19 catches for 351 yards and four touchdowns, and tight end Jake Stoneburner has seven catches for 92 yards and three scores. That's a credible cast around Miller, but not an overly intimidating one. You'd probably give the edge to NU's Ameer Abdullah, Rex Burkhead, Kenny Bell, Kyler Reed, and Quincy Enunwa over that group.

Nebraska's best hope is probably to make that supporting cast win the game. Assume on every play that Miller intends to run. Swarm him to tackle him or make him give the ball up and then live with what the players around him can do. He's never passed for more than 249 yards in a game. His rushing was probably the difference in four of OSU's five wins this season. That won't guarantee victory. He did show he could throw four touchdowns against Cal. Then again, it was that fifth one that he ran in against the Golden Bears that was the margin of victory.

This looked like the toughest game on the schedule for NU going into the season. It still does. If the Huskers can keep Miller from beating them with his legs, they'll have a chance to win on the road in a hostile environment. Maybe a very good one.

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Comments 16 comments so far

If Braxton gets bottled up, he can still kill us with the play-action pass.  That seems to be kryptonite as well.  Our secondary needs to be air-tight.

If the huskers play defense like they did after halftime against the badgers, I say we come out with the upset !! GO BIG RED !!

Hell, they all look like they’re unstoppable on both offense and defense…so does NU..until the game starts and bad things begin to happen either way.
Either the best, or the luckiest, team will win.  About the only thing you can rely on…is that I’ll be watching from kick off ‘til the Fat Lady sings. GBR

RB Jordan Hall is going to miss the game for OSU…..thats a pretty big deal.

Not impressed with OSU this year.  Not sure the O-line will be enough for Miller to stay healthy the entire game.  Don’t kid yourself, Wisconsin is a better team than OSU and it took a couple quarters to wear them down.  NU all the way.

When will a Bo Pelini run defense stop a mobile quarterback?  You would think he would have it figured out by now but each year the mobile quarterback killes us.  Hell even one that never ran the whole year (Texas 2010) beats us.  I really think we lose this game by 10 points.  Miller is just that good and we suck at stopping the dual threat qb.  Hope I am wrong.  GBR!

Oh, Ye of little faith!  Big Red by 3…tD’s that is.

Miller’s stats don’t seem a whole lot different that Taylor’s stats, if you ask me.  Sure, we have trouble with Mobil QB’s, so does OSU.  Everyone also has a lot of trouble handling NU’s running ability, and did I mention that we also have a game changer in TMagic.  Don’t sell him short.  I don’t see where Miller gets the nod over TMagic who piles up yards like a ride on mower on steroids and is passing extremely well.  I see Big Red dominating in every aspect.  On the whole, our team is a better team than OSU, across the board and we have tremendous depth in the skill positions.

Have enjoyed reading the blog articles and comments.

As far as tackling Braxton, no one has seemed to be able to do it consistently.  He has this ability to move laterally very quickly, especially to his left, that just dumbfounds potential tacklers.  I’m not sure I’ve seen that particular gift to that degree in a runner before.  Very unique.  I think you need to have him flanked with 2 guys and leave him with no lateral movement.

I would definitely do what I could to stop him in the run game.  He can beat you with his arm, but I’m not sure he’s proved that he can do it consistently. 

HChip, the Ohio State O Line gave up one sack and controlled the LOS against a Mich St front 7 that is no joke.  I actually think they are pretty solid.

Loved the Neb-Wisc game last week.  I see the 2 most complete teams in the conference in OSU and Neb, and yet both of them have some significant questions and concerns.  Looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

I hope we put Ciante right on Devon Smith from the get-go.  Shut him down right away and if the LB’s contain Braxton we may just make this happen.

Huskerchip, I’ll take Michigan State and tOSU as better teams than Wisky.  Wisky was starting a rsf with 1 start, and 3 new starters on the offensive line.  TOSU has the best d line in the big 10, and their o line manhandled MSU’s.

Hyde is the back up and he is not even 100%.  He is recovering from an mcl sprain just like burkhead. 

WinOSU, I have to say that I commend your sportsmanship.  You are a class act. 
I do believe we hasoned talent on our team, the main issue is missed tackles and ball security.  If we can do a decent job cleaning those areas up, we give our selves a great chance to win.  Its hard to see that happening ,  though, we have been struggling with that aspect of our game for quite some time now…

Either way, I’m looking forward to an exciting game!
GBR

i don’t like to name drop,  but if we have fischer playing linebacker all game there is no chance he will be able to contain miller.  he is by far the slowest on the team.  he can’t cover backs out of the backfield.  (see UCLA and WISCONSIN)  he was beat by 5 yards on a play that ball drop the pass.  would have been a touchdown.  i don’t care if he is a senior and knows all the calls/plays/ect   hes just to slow.

SPEN, I WAS AT THE GAME LAST YEAR AND I THINK FISCHER TACKLED BRAXTON MILLER ON THE PLAY THAT ENDED HIS EVENING.  IT’S TOUGH FOR ANY LINEBACKER WITHOUT LAVONTE DAVID SPEED TO COVER A RUNNING BACK.  THERE ARE MATCHUP ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL THAT ARE GOING TO BE FASCINATING TO WATCH.  I HOPE INJURIES DO NOT INFLUENCE THE OUTCOME OF THE GAME.

I think Carlos Hyde is about to explode.  We had an idiot for an offensive coodinator last year who never really gave him a chance.  He is big and fast - and if Miller gives it to him enough on the zone read play, he can be a real threat.  If he becomes a real threat, that will make Braxton that much more dangerous. 

Braxton still doesn’t make the right read enough on that play.  He missed several against Michigan St that would have busted right up the middle.  If he improves his reading ability and Hyde becomes what I think he is, that particular play will drive defenses crazy.  That will be something to watch for sat night.

I read where Neb defenders feel confident about containing Miller because they have had to practice against Martinez.  I see some similarities.  Both QB’s can plant their foot, cut up field, and accelerate.  Miller is different in his lateral movement.  It’s just really a freakish talent.  Another thing to watch sat night is how they deal with that when they see it.  Miller creates doubt in tacklers’ minds and he uses that to his advantage.

One other thing - IF Miller gets knocked out of this game, Joe Bauserman will not be coming in, and you won’t be seeing the backup completing passes to a female Nebraska fan in the 3rd row wearing an ear of corn on her head.  :) Kenny Guiton is an adequate runner, and possibly a better passer than Braxton.  I feel really good if Kenny has to go in.

I thought NU had a great game plan for Miller in the first quarter but did not adjust when the buckeyes did.  Neither defense was impressive, and both need to improve greatly.  As far as face masks and personal fouls, I thought Bell’s was just as deserving of a penalty as Sabino’s was.  The last OSU score was a basic off tackle running play, and wasn’t NU trying to score when they had the ball?

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