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Commentary: Offensive improvement stunted by Braxton Miller’s injury

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

Despite popular belief in Columbus and throughout the state of Ohio, the Ohio State offense isn’t dead. But it may not be alive either.

After a Michigan State game in which the Buckeyes mustered a lowly 178 yards and seven points, the OSU offense came to Nebraska with a game plan and actually moved the ball.

Coach Luke Fickell and offensive coordinator Jim Bollman abandoned the onslaught of predictable running plays and slow-developing passing plays and did something that, quite frankly, they should have done a long time ago.

They played to the personnel’s strengths.

It all started with the way Braxton Miller was utilized.

Miller’s biggest weakness is his inability to read defenses. Too many times in previous weeks, Miller took the snap under center and was forced to try and navigate a collapsing pocket, read the defense, and find a receiver down the field. This week, OSU had Miller in shotgun and pistol formations where Miller could better see the field before the snap and get a better feel for what the defense was going to do. Miller was able to make quicker, simpler reads and actually complete passes.

They also utilized Miller’s speed by rolling the quarterback outside the pocket and giving him the option to run and pass. There were three times in the first half alone when Miller pulled the ball down, and converted a critical third down.

Mike Adams’ return from a five-game suspension gave the Buckeyes a huge lift on the offensive line. Adams joined Andrew Norwell on the left side and the line and was able to push the Nebraska defense off the ball. The coaches utilized the newfound strength and ran it off the left side for much of night.

But in the third quarter, Miller went down with an apparent right ankle injury. Nebraska scored twice, cut OSU’s lead to seven, and Joe Bauserman entered the game. 

The stagnant offense was back.

Bauserman was holding onto the ball, throwing it away, and the running game disappeared.

The OSU coaches had a plan for an offense with Miller at the helm and Bauserman wasn’t a part of it.

Nebraska defense took advantage of the inept offensive play and went on to win a game that has to be a heartbreaker for the Buckeyes.

Bauserman has proven the offense can’t be effective if he’s playing quarterback. All Buckeye fans can do at this point is hope Miller heals fast because the future of this offense is entirely dependent on the health of his right ankle.

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