Tuesday, October 30, 2012

MEYER ADMITS BRAXTON MILLER IS A HEISMAN TROPHY CANDIDATE NOW

Braxton Miller
TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — When asked earlier this season about his quarterback Braxton Miller being a Heisman Trophy contender, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer simply shook his head and replied, "Oh, gosh ... there will be no discussion of that."

He also said he wouldn't be posting any "billboards" for his campaign, either.

Well, 2,620 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine wins later, the Buckeyes' boss is starting to come around.

"Do I believe he's a Heisman candidate? I do," Meyer said of Miller. "I didn't say that before. But I do believe Braxton is a Heisman candidate now."

Meyer — who coached a Heisman winner at Florida (Tim Tebow), as well as a finalist at Utah (Alex Smith) — certainly knows what a contender looks like.

"I have a little experience at that award and seeing guys getting ready," Meyer said. "Braxton has to play much better. However, I believe he is a candidate."

Miller is coming off another huge effort at Penn State, where he began the game sluggishly but finished with a bang, totaling 277 yards and three touchdowns, while keeping the Buckeyes unbeaten and atop the Big Ten Leaders Division at 9-0.

Miller has gone from raw freshman in 2011, to perhaps the best offensive weapon in all of college football in 2012. Meyer is very pleased with Miller's sophomore progression.

"Braxton, if you had to really evaluate his progress, I'd say it's probably on schedule," Meyer said. "Somebody could say, 'Well, he should be a better thrower by now,' and he should be. But there are other areas of his game that have really improved."

One aspects of Miller's game that has improved tremendously, according to Meyer, is his confidence.

The Buckeyes' mentor attributed that confidence to the second half turnaround in Happy Valley.

"I saw a much more confident player (in the second half)," Meyer said of Miller. "That atmosphere is hard to stay settled down. That was a heck of a deal. I think it was a rather traumatic experience he went through to be back out there (after injuring his neck the game prior). His whole week went from here and he just progressed the whole week.

"A lot of (his first half problems) was his foot work. Pulling away from center was very sloppy, and he panicked at times. The one to his right was just flat panic. But he settled down. 

"He settled down."

Meyer said Miller's highly competitive nature sometimes needs to be dialed down, but admits he wouldn't want to have it any other way. It's what makes Miller, well ... Miller.

"It's hard to teach a Tiger to bite," Meyer said. "It's a little easier to teach it when to bite. There is nothing else I would rather coach than a competitor that you have to cool down a little bit and say don't force things and don't try to win the game every play. 

"I've coached guys where you say, 'Try to win the game once in a while.' Those guys aren't really the kind of guys you want leading your team.

"(Miller) finished very strong (at Penn State). Made some big plays for us, and his competitive spirit is a big reason why we won that game."

It's also big reason why he'll most likely receive an invite to New York in December.

ROBY ON THORPE LIST ... Buckeyes sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby was named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to college football's best defensive back.

Roby has recorded a nation-best 18 passes defended, including two interceptions — one of which for a 41-yard touchdown (vs. Nebraska).

The native of Suwanee, Georgia is the only representative on the list from the Big Ten and just one of only two sophomores up for the award.