FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Braxton Miller fought off the flu in one day, maybe less, earlier this week. Now the big question is if Ohio State's junior quarterback's passing game can get healthy just as fast.
Overall, Miller has improved this season. But in the last four games, his passing numbers have dropped off dramatically. He has completed only 46 percent of his throws in the last four games after connecting on close to 70 percent earlier in the season.
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman says defenses have adjusted to Miller and possibly Ohio State needs to counter those changes better. Miller completed only eight passes against Michigan State and six against Michigan.
“As you move later in the season, obviously, defenses say, 'Here's what they're doing. We've got to stop this.' So when you stop that, what's your counter? I don't know that we ever made that push into the next phase of the adjustment in the passing game, but we will. Braxton's gotten better these last three weeks, absolutely,” Herman said.
The other big question about Miller is if he will choose to enter the NFL draft and give up his last season of eligibility at Ohio State. He said Wednesday that decision will come in “maybe a week, in a few days.”
CARTER AT PRACTICE: Former Ohio State receiver and Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter was at the Buckeyes' practice on Wednesday. A few observations from the ESPN commentator:
—- On coach Urban Meyer: “He's got the program right where it should be.”
—- On the possibility of Ohio State being deflated after losing out on a chance to play in the BCS national championship game: “I'm pretty sure they know the magnitude of what's going on, so I look for them to put on a good show. It's a big-time bowl game. We haven't played in a whole lot of Orange Bowls so I don't think the kids will take it for granted.”
—- On Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins: “He's phenomenal. If he's not the top receiver in this year's (NFL) draft, he's No. 2.”
—- On Joey Bosa and his younger brother, Nick, who plays for Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas High School, where Carter is an assistant coach: “Joey Bosa will be a pro. I can't say it because Joey will get mad, but the little brother might be better.” Ohio State has offered a scholarship to Nick Bosa, a sophomore.
FINISHING STRONG: Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde has a number in mind. He wants to break the Orange Bowl record for most rushing yards by a running back. “A perfect ending for me would be 226. That's the most rushing yards in an Orange Bowl. That and the win, that would be the perfect way to go out,” he said.
MVP, MVP: Wide receiver Corey Brown calls the offensive line the Most Valuable Player of this year's team. Hyde called them “the best offensive line in the country.” “A lot of my success has to do with them and the tight ends and the receivers,” he said. “In the games where our offensive line is run blocking and the tight ends and receivers are all clicking on the same page and with me clicking on the same page, man, the offense is fun to play in.” “Every game I give those guys credit when I do good. Without those guys up front, it wouldn't be able to happen.”
BOYD IDOLIZED SMITH: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd says former Ohio State QB Troy Smith was his football idol when he was growing up. But that wasn't enough to convince Boyd to commit to Ohio State when Jim Tressel put a big recruiting push on him four years ago. Clemson, Ohio State and Oregon battled over Boyd. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney remembers it this way: “Bellotti (former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti) was hanging out in a tree in the backyard with binoculars and Tressel was parked in the front yard waiting for me to leave.” Boyd says Ohio State was tough to turn down. “You go up to the Woody Hayes Center, when you walk in there it looks ridiculous. There are rings everywhere, trophies everywhere.” He estimates he did not respond to around a dozen phone calls from Tressel after committing to Clemson.