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Published: 10/1/2011 - Updated: 2 years ago

OSU expects Spartans to pressure freshman QB

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Ohio State's Braxton Miller has impressed Michigan State's coaches with his running ability. Ohio State's Braxton Miller has impressed Michigan State's coaches with his running ability.
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COLUMBUS -- Ohio State freshman quarterback Braxton Miller gets the second start of his young career this afternoon, and he can expect a very confrontational greeting from a green and white clad cavalry.

Michigan State comes to Ohio Stadium for the Big Ten opener for both teams, sporting the top defense in the country. The Spartans have allowed just over 170 yards per game this season.

They have accomplished that lofty rating by playing an attacking style on defense, and Ohio State coach Luke Fickell is certain the Spartans will come after Miller the same way.

"They're still going to be who they are. They are a very aggressive team anyway," Fickell said. "If that [freshman quarterback] factors into it, they'll be even more aggressive."

Miller has played in three games for the Buckeyes and posted modest numbers, completing 15-of-29 passes for 235 yards. He has passed for three touchdowns, thrown one interception, and has rushed 30 times for 145 yards.

Miller's elusive running and escapability have Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio concerned.

"I think the big story right now is Braxton Miller, a guy who's carried the ball 30 times in three games," Dantonio said. "The last game was his first full time start, so he's running the ball as much as some of their tailbacks really are."

Fickell said Miller, who enrolled at Ohio State in January to get a jump on learning the playbook, is progressing in that area.

"I think he's done a good job ... and he's going to continue to do a good job," Fickell said. "It's on us to make sure we can only put the things in his hands that we think he can handle. How much that is, we'll continue to do."

Fickell said that Miller has done his homework and put in the time in film study, but the only real way he can continue to evolve is by playing.

"He's like a freshman, but I think the more you become involved in doing it, obviously you start to learn a little bit better," Fickell said, likening Miller's plight to his own as a first-time head coach.

"A lot of these guys like myself are a little bit more 'learn by doing.' Sometimes in practice you think you know it. You get out in the game, and you realize, 'Wow.' "

Ohio State junior running back Jordan Hall, who has provided a spark for the offense and special teams over the past two games, said Miller's athleticism makes him dangerous in any situation.

"He's an exciting guy. He can make something out of nothing," said Hall, who sat out the first two games of 2011 serving an NCAA suspension. "When you've got that [ability] back there, the defense has to account for it. I think that will help us out."

Contact Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @MattMarkey.



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