Miller still has room to improve

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The checklist of responsibilities at the most important position on the field is long, so Urban Meyer hit only the highlights.

Did the Ohio State coach's starting quarterback improve his accuracy from the beginning of the season to the end? Absolutely.

Was there improved comfort and awareness in the pocket? Certainly.

Could the Buckeyes see improved fundamentals, particularly in his footwork? No question about it.

But for all the strides Braxton Miller made from the start of his sophomore campaign to perhaps his most efficient outing as a passer in the last game of the team's run to perfection, there is still plenty of work to be done in each and every one of those critical areas. And considering that Miller could easily be in New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist and just wrapped up one of the most impressive statistical seasons in Ohio State history, that's a potentially frightening thought for anybody on the schedule next year.

"Our quarterback fundamentally, he wasn't the best fundamental quarterback in America," Meyer said in his postseason news conference Monday. "You've got to run the show, the quarterback has to run the show, and he did not a year ago [as a freshman]. He certainly did not early in this year, but he did begin calling the team together and saying some things to them -- his growth was exponential as far as that.

"But I still have no idea where his ceiling is. Pocket awareness, comfort, just the fundamentals of throwing the ball, I don't see the ceiling yet. He's got that much further to go."

Before the hype machine really gets rolling for both Miller and the Buckeyes again next season, that message promises to be pounded home for the centerpiece of a spread offense that exploded with his multipurpose skills on the way to an undefeated season. Even Miller's mobility will get critiqued in the offseason by Meyer, who would like to see the elusiveness and acceleration that made his quarterback a 1,000-yard rusher used more effectively as a scrambler in passing situations.

But the biggest emphasis appears to be the continued development and improvements of the basics for Miller in the passing game. While he was certainly sharp while completing 14 of his 18 attempts against Michigan for 189 yards with a touchdown, no interceptions and a couple of intelligent throwaways that reflected his maturation, those types of performances didn't come quite as consistently as the Buckeyes want them.

And knowing that he's capable of producing at that level and potentially much higher, the bar is only going to be raised heading into his junior season.

"He prepared better [for Michigan] probably than any other week," offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. "The numbers in the throw game probably speak for themselves.

"The sky is the limit for him. To say that he's a finished product is not even close to reality."

The version the Buckeyes have at this point already is capable of winning plenty of games. And it's surely tough to complain about a season that included 3,310 yards of total offense.

Miller cut down on his interception-per-attempt ratio, nearly doubled his passing yardage and improved his completion percentage by more than 4 points from his freshman season. But the statistical checklist, just like the one for his intangibles and technical skills, has room for improvement as well.

"Tom Herman and Braxton Miller understand that they have to get better," Meyer said. "If Braxton Miller becomes fundamentally the best quarterback in America, I think he will be the best quarterback in America.

"It will be comical what he'll do, but he's not there yet."

Meyer already is working on a lengthy to-do list to help him get there.