Ohio State Spring Game Analysis: Jack Miller

Jack Miller was the first quarterback to play in the Ohio State Spring Game, and we got our first glimpse into the quarterback competition.

Three scholarship quarterbacks are competing for the starting role in September. The first was the redshirt freshman, Miller.

In 2020, he played in only one game. Miller recorded two rushing attempts for 23 yards and a touchdown in the opener against Nebraska. He has yet to attempt his first pass for Ohio State.

The Spring Game gave us the closest thing we have to live reps for Miller since he was in high school. Since there was no Spring Game last year and he didn’t attempt a pass during the season, all we have had was his recruiting film.

Here’s what we saw from Jack Miller during the game.

Ohio State Spring Game Analysis: Jack Miller

Miller on The First Drive

In the first drive of the Spring Game, Miller looked decent. He completed six of nine passes, and only one of the passes was particularly bad.

Miller’s first attempt of the Spring Game was an incompletion, but the ball went off Jameson Williams‘ hands. His next five throws were on the money. Miller felt comfortable in the pocket, and he moved around to avoid pressure.

He didn’t push the ball very far downfield, but he was deadly on his short throws. The accuracy was there, and he also showed off his arm strength that some didn’t know he had.

However, he didn’t show a commanding ability to read the defense throughout the drive and stared down his intended receiver on every pass. This became problematic in the red zone, as the offense ran out of space. The coverage closed some of the gaps, and Miller forced the ball into tight windows.

The first example is when he overthrew Jaxon Smith-Njigba on the sideline. He did throw it to where the defender couldn’t reach it, but unfortunately, his receiver couldn’t either. After a completions to Smith-Njigba, Miller tried to force one into Garrett Wilson.

Normally, Wilson is a pretty reliable receiver, but cornerback Ryan Watts had him covered up pretty well. Miller’s only chance was to throw the ball to Wilson’s outside shoulder. But he let the ball hang inside where Watts had leverage, so he came down with an interception.

The offense was in max protection on that play, so there was only one other receiver downfield on that play. But he was on the other side of the field, and Miller didn’t even look that way. That play was probably drawn up with only one read.

Ideally, Miller would have thrown the ball out of play to mitigate the damage. Throwing the ball to Wilson was just a bad idea. But an accurate ball could have turned a bad idea into a bold throw. Unfortunately for Miller, that play was just a bad idea that was made worse by poor execution.

Miller in the Rest of the Half

Over the next two drives, Miller attempted five more throws, but only completed one. After the interception, his confidence was gone.

The only throws that were completed, or close to it, were within five yards of the line of scrimmage. One hit Chris Olave in the hands, which resulted in a drop. The second was a tunnel screen to Smith-Njigba.

He got one final drive towards the end of the half, and he finally got it together again. In his final drive, Miller completed four of his six attempts. Of course, the defense was in two-minute mode, so Miller’s strategy was just to “take what the defense gives you.” It worked to get the offense down the field, but it failed in separating Miller from the other quarterbacks who consistently drove down the field.

The Second Half/Controlled Scrimmage

Ryan Day gave Miller one more drive in the second half. Miller played the same as he did in the first half. He completed five of his seven passes but completed passes to running backs on four of his passes. His only completion to a wide receiver was a ball that traveled 11 yards in the air to Jayden Ballard. The only passes he attempted that were longer than that fell incomplete.

Overall Ohio State Spring Game Performance

He didn’t complete a pass that traveled more than 15 yards in the air. He only attempted two, and both were incomplete and well outside of his receivers’ catch radius.

The Spring Game also showed us that Miller heavily favors the left third of the field. He completed 10 of his 13 passes to that side while missing on eight of his 13 attempts to the other two thirds.

Overall, Miller didn’t look horrible. When he was at his best, he took the high percentage passes and methodically moved down the field. That is not bad, but he didn’t blow anyone away.

Unfortunately for him, seemingly every other quarterback looked better. Even J.P. Andrade, a walk-on, looked like he had a better arm than Miller.

It seems after the Spring Game that Miller has a lower ceiling at Ohio State than the other freshmen quarterbacks. Miller could be the backup who comes in to relieve the starter, run a simplified version of the offense, and makes very few mistakes. He could be the quarterback whose job is simply not to lose the game and let the playmakers around him shine.

That said, there are still four more months and one full Fall camp until the season starts. It’s too premature to start assigning spots on the depth chart. From what limited action we saw, Miller didn’t impress. But if he has a good camp, then all bets are off.

 

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