Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
Through the first nine weeks of the season, Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer declined to consider his star sophomore quarterback, Braxton Miller, a candidate for this year’s Heisman Trophy. Following the team’s ninth consecutive victory on Saturday at Penn State, Meyer’s response changed.
“I do believe Braxton’s a Heisman candidate,” Meyer said. “He has to play much better. However, from just sheer production on a team that’s 9-0, it puts him in that category.”
Miller ranks 10th nationally with 2,620 yards of total offense and ranks fifth nationally with 1,093 rushing yards. The OSU quarterback has also 12 passing and 12 rushing touchdowns this season.
Meyer said Miller’s progression as a quarterback this season is “on schedule.”
“Somebody would say he should be a better thrower by now, and he should be,” Meyer said. “But there’s other areas of his game that have really improved.”
Meyer said he does not know who the other candidates are but mentioned Kansas State senior quarterback Collin Klein and West Virginia senior quarterback Geno Smith when discussing the award.
Meyer also named Miller as OSU’s offensive player of the week. Miller completed 7-of-19 passes for 143 yards with one touchdown and one interception against Penn State but also ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
Miller also received recognition on a national level. Miller was announced on Monday as one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award, an award recognizing the collegiate player of the year.
Praise for Penn State performance
Meyer said he was proud of his team’s overall performance in their 35-23 road win in State College, Pa., on Saturday.
“Our guys responded well in a very tough situation,” Meyer said. “Overall, very good team win … our best team win we’ve had.”
Meyer said his Buckeyes are a “special” team.
“They’re fighting for each other,” Meyer said. “It’s a refuse-to-lose type atmosphere.”
Wide receivers coach Zach Smith said he did not foresee the Buckeyes starting out the season with a 9-0 record.
“I think it’s a testament to just the commitment of a group of guys that refuse to lose a game,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t say that we are an undefeated football team that is sitting here just dominating people … There’s a lot of stuff we can improve at every position in every phase, but what you love to see is that teamwork and that cohesion of players that go out and win the game because they have the passion for each other and this university and ultimately the team.”
Awards all around for Buckeyes
Sophomore outside linebacker Ryan Shazier, who had eight total tackles, two sacks, an interception returned for a touchdown and a forced fumble in Saturday’s win, was named the Big Ten co-defensive player of the week on Monday.
In addition to Miller, two other Buckeyes were named as national semifinalists for major college football awards. Junior defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins was named one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which is awarded to college football’s outstanding defensive player of the year. Redshirt sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby, who was credited with four pass breakups in Saturday’s game, was also named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which recognizes the nation’s best defensive back.
Meyer said Monday that he named Shazier and Roby OSU’s co-defensive players of the week. Sophomore wide receiver Devin Smith, who had two special teams tackles, was named special teams player of the week.
Redshirt junior left tackle Jack Mewhort, junior left guard Andrew Norwell, senior right tackle Reid Fragel, redshirt senior tight end Jake Stoneburner, sophomore wide receiver Evan Spencer and junior running back Carlos Hyde were named as offensive champions along with Miller.
Additionally, Meyer awarded redshirt sophomore Adam Griffin a “Scarlet Shirt” award for his efforts on special teams, which included a pass breakup on a fake punt pass.
Griffin said being recognized for his effort “means a lot” to him.
“It just lets you know that all the hard work you put in throughout practice and throughout camp is paying off,” Griffin said.
Meyer said redshirt senior outside linebacker Etienne Sabino, who has missed the last three games with a broken right fibula, is questionable for Saturday’s game versus Illinois.
Aside from Sabino, however, Meyer said the team has a relatively clean bill of health.
“Our trainers say we’re as healthy as we’ve been,” Meyer said.