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Herman’s departure makes Braxton Miller OSU’s most important player in 2015

Sometimes talent trumps coaching, and then there was what Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman did in 2014. His ability to improve Braxton Miller (in between being shut down from throwing), then get the most out of two other quarterbacks spoke volumes about this coaching ability.

It spoke so loudly that Herman earned his first head coaching job, as reports indicate he will be hired to replace the fired Tony Levine at the University of Houston. While it’s an opportunity well deserved based on coaching and the offense that was put on the field for Ohio State this season, it certainly is a blow to Ohio State going forward.

However, Ohio State will have one big advantage going for it no matter who Urban Meyer hires to replace Herman — a returning Braxton Miller.

Yes, Big Ten Freshman of the Year J.T. Barrett will be back and so will redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones, who carved up arguably the best defense in the Big Ten with just one week of preparation, but they are both young and inexperienced quarterbacks when compared to Miller.

He, on the other hand, has three years of starting experience and has worked under two offensive coordinators in his four years at Ohio State. That’s a massive advantage when transitioning from one coordinator to another and trying to still learn the tricks of the trade at quarterback as well.

Miller will be able to draw off all the adversity he’s gone through and more importantly off the memory of going from Jim Bollman’s offense to Tom Herman’s scheme.

It’s a luxury that isn’t available to the other two quarterbacks who shined in Miller’s absence this year. Both have only been around the program under Herman’s tutelage and change can do funny things to a quarterback.

Just look at how Miller was affected by the hire of Herman when Urban Meyer came to Ohio State.

Miller went from a promising freshman with plenty of room for improvement in the passing game to about as complete a quarterback as possible in the first two years under Tom Herman. I mean, we’re talking about a two-time Chicago Tribune Silver Football winner, a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and a former Big Ten Freshman of the Year as well.

We’re also talking about a guy who became the first Ohio State player to go for over 3,000 yards of total offense (3,310 in 2012) and became the only Buckeye quarterback to rush for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons too.

Herman worked wonders with the raw talent that Miller had, and by the time he’ll leave Ohio State the mark Herman made on him will be indelible.

That’s not to dismiss how special a talent Barrett could be or the flash of brilliance we saw out of Jones either.

In fact, it was often tempting to forget that Miller existed while watching J.T. Barrett light up opposing defenses on the way to winning Freshman of the Year and Quarterback of the Year honors from the Big Ten this season. But the reality is 2015 is set up perfectly for Miller to shine.

Given the upcoming transition on the offensive coaching staff with Herman’s departure having a steady hand at quarterback can really make things work.

While it remains to be seen exactly where Miller is after taking the year away from football to recover from shoulder surgery, his experience in game situations and handling transition in coaching staffs make him the most important person to success for the Buckeyes in 2015.

No matter what, the Buckeyes have an embarrassment of riches at quarterback and very few around the Big Ten are going to cry over the three-quarterback dilemma that OSU will be faced with come next August.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball


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