As quarterback Braxton Miller sits out the spring recovering from surgery, the Buckeyes are missing on a shot for the team to grow together as a more cohesive unit. Even with a push to task the signal-caller with ample vocal and mental duties, Ohio State is missing out on Miller gelling with the new faces that will push into the starting lineup.
Ohio State is certainly not wasting the spring sessions, even with Miller sidelined due to shoulder surgery. As Ari Wasserman points out at Cleveland.com, the staff is making sure Miller is as engaged as someone in his position can possibly be during practice. Miller is calling plays, pointing out what he sees and helping direct the offense from the sideline, all with a sling on his arm. As Meyer points out:
"He actually calls the play and also tells us what he sees in the secondary (during practice)," Meyer said. "His issues are verbal communication and keeping the eyes on the secondary. It will be a productive spring (for him). He's into it now."
Actions that certainly will prove beneficial for the quarterback, who is looking to develop the mental aspect of his game. What he is not getting is a chance to match his physical performance with what he's seeing on the field—that element will have to wait until summer and into fall camp.
Chalk it up to a series of unfortunate events, as Miller's February surgery rendered him out for spring, unable to match the physical with the mental. Thus, while Miller's calling out plays, protections and coverages, he is missing out on working behind the revamped offensive line and establishing a rapport with faces, old and new, on the offensive side of the ball.
That said, Braxton Miller, thanks to Urban Meyer and this Buckeyes' staff, is certainly not wasting the spring season. Forcing the quarterback to remain engaged, not just doing rehab or off to the side talking to players not on the practice field, is a massive step up from what many injured players do during spring. Miller's not out at "Muscle Beach" doing one-armed kettle bells and running in the sand; he is remaining locked in during practice periods.
Mental reps are not perfect, watching from behind the actual action, or from the side, is not the most accurate depiction of in-game scenarios. With Miller not throwing or running, facing pressure or defenses reacting to him, there will be rust to knock off come summer for the quarterback. However, by remaining active during periods, Miller is getting an extensive, and extended, live-action film session.
And thanks to the device recording his decisions and reads, it is also an extended session for his coaches to review.
Film holds true utility when it comes to athletes improving, especially on the gridiron. While Miller misses on the physical, he continues to grow his cerebral understanding of playing the position. With the extended film work, including the live sessions, the staff will get a shot to evaluate Miller's mental understanding extensively.
For Ohio State, a team that loses pieces on the offensive line, plus stud running back Carlos Hyde, having Miller active during spring would help make the transition easier on the physical pieces involved. Given the quarterback's injury, that is not an option this spring, but the Buckeyes are making the best of it by making sure Miller benefits from every ounce of mental growth during the spring season.