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Theater of Operations, Florida Vs. Ohio State: Previewing Ohio State's Passing Attack

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This is the first of three Theater of Operations installments for the Gator Bowl match-up between the Florida Gators and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

This season, the Ohio State Buckeyes have had their fair share of ups and downs. I'm sure we all know about the "Tattoo-Five," so there really isn't a point in discussing it or that other thing at all other than to say that the former had a lot more to do with their struggles this year than the latter.

It's pretty safe to say that the Buckeyes aren't very good at passing the football. In fact, there are only four teams in the country that are worse than the Buckeyes when it comes to a passing offense. It should come as no surprise for Gator fans to see that one of the teams that rank behind the Buckeyes in total passing, are the Temple Owls. But that's another matter entirely.

The Buckeyes have used two quarterbacks this year, although only one of them has seen any action since early October. After struggling mightily against Nebraska, senior Joe Bauserman was demoted to the third string on the depth chart, and freshman Braxton Miller was handed the keys to the Buckeye offense. The results of that switch, have been mixed.

Play No. 1: Braxton Miller's 43-yard touchdown pass against Michigan:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Just a very simple play-action here by Braxton Miller (bottom blue circle). DeVier Posey (top blue circle) is just going to run a crossing route over the middle of the field.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

After the play-action occurs, the fullback (top blue circle) does a great job in getting himself into position to pick up the blitz (red circle). The running back (bottom blue circle) is going to head out into some open space so that he'll be available in case a check-down is needed.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Miller (blue circle) begins to step up into the pocket. I'm not sure if he is planning on the running with the ball, or if he thinks there is pressure coming from his blind side.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

If Miller's plan all along was to pass the ball, then he stepped up too far into the pocket (blue square) and it caused him to throw off his back foot. If his plan was to run with the ball and then he happened to see a receiver to throw the ball to, well, either way you don't want to see throws like this.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

But yeah, Miller has a stronger arm than I thought. Off his back foot, 40 yards down the field and it's a perfect throw (blue square).

Play No. 2: Braxton Miller's 7-yard touchdown pass against Penn State:


(Photo courtesy of the Big Ten Network)

Now that we've seen a strength throw from Braxton Miller, let's look at a touch throw. Jake Stoneburner (double yellow circle) is just going to run a mini fade pattern into the endzone. The man in charge of covering him is the middle linebacker (green circle) for Penn State. However, the linebacker makes the mistake of breaking off his coverage of Stoneburner to cover the wide receiver (single yellow circle) who runs a curl route at the goal line.


(Photo courtesy of the Big Ten Network)

What really makes this play happen is the fact that the running back (left yellow circle) is running out to the flat. This in turn leads to the outside linebacker for Penn State (top green circle) to take a few steps up. The middle linebacker for Penn State (bottom green circle) begins to notice that, and starts to break off his coverage on Stoneburner (right yellow circle).


(Photo courtesy of the Big Ten Network)

As Braxton Miller gets ready to throw the ball, the receiver for Ohio State is covered (green rectangle) by the outside linebacker for Penn State. However, the middle linebacker for Penn State misreads this, and breaks off his coverage at this moment.


(Photo courtesy of the Big Ten Network)

Miller does a great job of floating the ball (red circle) over three Penn State defenders (big green square) to Stoneburner (yellow square) for the touchdown. There is yet another Penn State defender (small green square) arriving on the scene, but he is too late.

Play No. 3: Braxton Miller's 38-yard touchdown pass against Purdue:


(Photo courtesy of the Big Ten Network)

The Purdue defense (green circles) is basically going to run a jailbreak blitz. Jordan Hall (yellow circle) is just going to run out and stop once he gets passed the linebackers.


(Photo courtesy of the Big Ten Network)

At this point Hall (yellow circle) is just getting passed the blitz.


(Photo courtesy of the Big Ten Network)

Hall (yellow circle) is now open, and there isn't a defender in the area. Braxton Miller is now going to be pressed to throw the ball because of the defender (green circle) who is closing in.


(Photo courtesy of the Big Ten Network)

The throw from Miller is in the exact location needed to complete the pass. The ball floats right over the outstretched hands of the lone defender in the area.

Play No. 4: Braxton Miller's 40-yard touchdown pass against Wisconsin:


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

You know what scares me most about Braxton Miller (yellow circle)? It's the fact that he can run with the football. We'll get more in-depth with Ohio State's running game tomorrow morning, but in this play, Miller is going to buy some time. A lot of time.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The dominant rush from the Nittany Lions is coming from the right side (green circles) and at this point, Braxton Miller (yellow circle) has nowhere to throw the ball.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Miller (yellow circle), first attempts to roll to his right to buy some time, but because of the defender (green circle), he is forced to begin to scramble.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Miller (yellow circle) uses his speed to avoid the rusher (green circle), which buys him just enough time to have a chance to release a throw.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Miller releases the throw (yellow square) off his back foot, while falling to his right. That's impressive.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

What's even more impressive than how Miller released the ball, is the fact that it went 40-plus yards (yellow square).

Even though the Gators secondary is young and inexperienced, the Ohio State passing game isn't what the Gators primary concern should be on. I don't think that the Ohio State passing attack could consistently beat a defense as talented as the Gators for an entire game.

I'm not saying that the Gators should dismiss the Buckeye passing attack either. They've certainly burned a few times, like Wisconsin above, but it isn't how they'll beat you either.