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Lions feel good about chances against Miller

October 24, 2013
By Lee Cary (sports@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

UNIVERSITY PARK-With time winding down in the third quarter of Penn State and Ohio State's 2012 matchup, the Buckeyes' quarterback showcased just how dangerous he can be.

The undefeated Ohio State team stared at a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, clinging to a four-point lead as Braxton Miller stood in shotgun formation and faked a handoff to Carlos Hyde.

Then-senior Sean Stanley burst into the backfield, drilling Hyde and forcing Miller to take a step back to around the 5-yard line while the graduated linebacker duo of Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti penetrated the Buckeyes' offensive line.

Miller made a cut to his left, brushed Hodges aside while the quarterback pushed toward the end zone before leaping across the goal line over a diving Malcolm Willis.

Stephen Obeng-Agyapong was on the field for the play that put the Buckeyes up by 11 and says he still sees photos of it to this day.

"I definitely remember that play because he made one of our linebackers miss with his little hesitation move," Obeng-Agyapong said.

Obeng-Agyapong said he does not actively search for pictures of the play for motivation, but he will see them sometimes.

The converted linebacker also said his smaller stature will help the Nittany Lions' linebacking corps this weekend to contain the speedy Miller.

"Braxton Miller, he's definitely a threat. He's fast, he's elusive and things like that," Obeng-Agyapong said. "Having a smaller linebacker like me in there...it's better because he can't beat me around the edge."

Bill O'Brien said he thinks Miller is one of the top five players in the nation-Miller did finish fifth in the Hesiman Trophy voting last season-and the quarterback has a better grasp on the Buckeyes' offense with his experience from 2012.

"We've got to play hard and play with great effort and do the best we can to keep him in [the pocket]," O'Brien said. "We have to make sure that we understand our rules, our scramble rules when he gets out."

Miller has rushed for 335 yards thus far this season, averaging 4.5 yards per carry, which is a slim margin ahead of Zach Zwinak's average of 4.3 yards per carry.

The dual-threat quarterback is not an unfamiliar concept to Penn State as the Nittany Lions took on Michigan's speedy Devin Gardner earlier in the year.

Penn State struggled to contain Gardner as the quarterback busted out for a career-high 121 yards in a 43-40 losing effort.

After the game, C.J. Olaniyan said the defensive line knew their job was to get pressure on the quarterback, which they did as the defense got to Gardner including a strip sack from Olaniyan, in order to make it easier for the linebackers and defensive backs.

"Whenever you rush, you have to have awareness and be alert that whenever the pocket is closing, he's going to try to get out of the pocket," Olaniyan said of Gardner.

Obeng-Agyapong said Miller reminds him of Gardner and both the Michigan and Ohio State offenses are explosive.

The other side to Miller's dual-threat capability is his passing and he has raised his completion percentage over 10 percent from last year.

O'Brien said Miller is throwing the ball well and he is an accurate passer.

"He obviously understands coverage, and he's just doing a really, really good job of running that offense in all facets of that offense," O'Brien said. "It's a very difficult challenge."

 
 
 

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