Orange Bowl DCs know opposing quarterbacks like they know their own

OSU's Luke Fickell on Tajh Boyd: 'We know he's got all the ability to make plays - I mean, we recruited him, too'

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (5) and running back Carlos Hyde (AP Photo)

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (5) and running back Carlos Hyde (AP Photo)

Brent Venables knows a thing or two about Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller.

And Buckeyes defensive coordinator Luke Fickell has a pretty good idea of what his team is getting into when it faces Tajh Boyd.

Boyd, says Fickell, could play for Ohio State, and Venables sees plenty of Clemson-tailored attributes when he studies Miller. Their own quarterbacks give the Orange Bowl's defensive coordinators their best practice look at the challenge ahead on Friday night.

"As far as what (Boyd) can do, I think our guys have got a pretty good idea," Fickell said. "We face a guy that's similar on a daily basis. So we know the threats of both the arm and the legs.

"We know he's got all the ability to make (plays) - I mean, we recruited him, too. We know exactly who he is and what he is and have watched him."

In evaluating OSU's Miller, Venables sees Boyd-like skills with an added element of speed.

"Miller's got a great blend of size and uncanny speed," Venables said. "We've seen some athletic quarterbacks this year, but none with the speed that he has. With his size and strength, he can run through trash. Like a running back, he's got eyes in the back of his head. He sees guys from all angles, and he's just got an uncanny ability in the pocket to feel pressure."

Venables said that playing solid, mistake-free defense is no guarantee that Miller won't make big plays.

'They've got a ton of designed quarterback run plays, and sometimes one of the worst things you can do is cover guys down the field because then he's going to pull it down," Venables said. "I say that in jest, but he's got a great supporting cast on top of great ability. And he's got a huge arm. So he can throw the ball 60, 65, 70 yards without much of an effort.

"Those things combined with the style of offense and the systematic approach that they have, it's all centered around that quarterback and that running back (Carlos Hyde) to get things going."

Venables doesn't expect Ohio State to change its offense for the Orange Bowl, and Fickell says the Buckeyes' best defensive plan for Boyd and the Tigers is play their game and get better in their fundamentals.

"I don't know that you ever really go away from what it is that you do," Fickell said. "You evaluate them and try to think of the things that you can do to give yourself a better chance. But the reality is you got to do what you do, and you've got to continue to get better at those kinds of things.

"Sometimes when you have this much time, you start evaluating and trying to find too many things and put your guys in situations where you're trying to be perfect at every little thing. The reality is what it comes down to is guys going out there and playing ball, playing fast, understanding what they're going to do.

"Clemson has had a month too. I'm sure you're going to see a few new wrinkles and some different things. It's going to have to be that ability, in that tempo and in that pace, for our guys to look up, to get a good picture of what's going on, and then to react and play."

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