The Ohio State Buckeyes received a major blow to their 2014 title hopes this week when starting quarterback and two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Braxton Miller was announced out for the season with an injury this throwing shoulder. Head coach Urban Meyer won’t let his team dwell on losing their offensive leader, however, and will turn the offense over to J.T. Barrett for the interim while Miller recovers on the sideline. When the dynamic Miller does return to the Buckeyes, which he has vowed to do in 2015, should he consider a different position?
There’s no denying Miller’s athleticism which has helped him become a very special playmaker for Ohio State. He has had back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and scored 25 touchdowns on the ground. He is a nightmare for defenses when he gets on the edge as he’s often too strong to be taken down by a single defender with the athleticism to break off huge gains if given any room to operate. That’s a valuable part of the offense that will be near-impossible to replicate while he’s injured.
The big knock on Miller’s game has been his passing. His accuracy can be suspect and he doesn’t have the great pocket awareness that makes him irreplaceable under center. His best attribute as a passer is his arm strength, though there may be some serious questions about that part of his game after his second shoulder surgery in the last year. He now has a history of shoulder issues, fair or not, and it may be time to wonder if his arm can take the rigors of playing quarterback moving forward.
Plus, what happens if Barrett steps in and has a phenomenal season at quarterback? While he lacks the arm strength of Miller, coaches have been very high on their No. 2 QB because he’s accurate and has a very strong understanding of the offense. Would Meyer risk Barrett taking a step back in his development after a strong debut season to plug Miller back in after a year on the shelf and coming off shoulder surgery in 2015?
The best option for Ohio State and for Miller is to find a place in the offense where he can show off his athletic talents while protecting his shoulder from further damage. Imagine an Ohio State offense where defensive coordinators wouldn’t know where Miller was lining up on every snap like they do when he’s under center. Many NFL scouts already predict a change of position for Miller at the next level, if he hopes to stick around at the pro level, so why not make the transition now where he can still grow as a football player?
There is no question that Braxton Miller is a phenomenal football player with an exceptional athletic ability. But after this latest injury, is it time to ask if quarterback is still the best position for him?