Defenses beware: Braxton Miller may have a pass or two up his sleeve

Braxton Miller has emerged as one of the nation's best runners. Will the Buckeyes unleash his passing ability again? Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports/Bob Donnan

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer is teasing the addition of another new weapon to the Ohio State playbook, but it’s probably only coming across as a threat to opposing defensive coordinators.

The Buckeyes have shown no hesitancy to snap the ball directly to former quarterback Braxton Miller and let him showcase his explosive rushing ability in the Wildcat, and it’s already produced some vintage, electrifying results. So far, though, Miller hasn’t attempted a pass from the formation, which in some ways simplifies the call for the defense, even if it doesn’t exactly make Miller any easier to stop.

But that might change soon, perhaps as early as Saturday’s matchup with Northern Illinois. Sometimes it’s been subtle, sometimes blatant, but Meyer has increasingly dropped hints that Miller hasn’t thrown his last pass for the top-ranked Buckeyes.

“It’s getting real close that he’s going to be able to throw for us,” Meyer said during his radio show on Thursday. “You might potentially see a pass with him this week.”

There’s also, of course, a chance that Meyer might leave that trick up his sleeve for a few more weeks or perhaps even all the way into November for Ohio State’s huge showdown with Michigan State. But even simply mentioning the potential for Miller to put the ball in the air for the first time since the Discover Orange Bowl at the end of the 2013 season might give defenders pause when he lines up to take a snap, and that possibility certainly won’t make the high-powered Buckeyes any easier to slow down with the football.

And aside from perhaps letting Miller air it out again despite moving to wide receiver/H-back after having a pair of surgeries on his throwing shoulder, Meyer seems intent to get Miller more involved in the attack as the season progresses anyway. Through two games, the two-time Big Ten player of the year has 18 touches for 213 yards and 2 touchdowns -- impressive numbers, but not quite to the level the Buckeyes are expecting him to deliver down the road.

“It’s usually a double-digit number,” Meyer said. “You see how the team is doing and also how his body is feeling, so you can tell when a guy is hot. That’s why I love to be on the sideline, you can tell when a guy gets hot and you can see that fire sometimes. That’s how we determine that.

“[But the options are] right in front of me. We kind of check it off as we go.”

The big one the Buckeyes haven’t scratched off the list yet is a pass from Miller.

But at some point it’s coming, and if nothing else, Meyer is making sure that everybody is aware that it’s still an option.

“Playing this position, you’ve got to be patient,” Miller said last week. “Half the time, you’re not even touching the ball for the first half or the first quarter or whatever. But coach Meyer is going to get the ball in the playmakers’ hands, so you’ve just got to be patient.

“Yeah, I can [throw]. But it’s up to coach Meyer and the play call.”

Starting with the Huskies, opposing defenses should consider themselves warned.