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Ohio State's Harry Miller is facing some growing pains in move to left guard

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State offensive lineman Harry Miller (76), shown here in a preseason practice, had a tough game the last time the Buckeyes played, Nov. 7 against Rutgers.

Harry Miller faced some growing pains in Ohio State’s win over Rutgers on Nov. 7.

Making his third career start for the Buckeyes, the left guard was penalized for holding three times in the first half.

But teammates on Tuesday expressed confidence in the sophomore to bounce back in the weeks ahead, including in Saturday’s top-10 matchup with Indiana.

“It’s not an easy thing to do, to be a young guy starting,” center Josh Myers said. “You have to think about all the obstacles that are overcome for not only this time, but for a first-year starter like Harry.

“This is his first year starting, it’s a weird year, he didn’t have any games to kind of get warmed up with, our usual early-season games where we blow teams out. We jumped straight into Nebraska and onto our Big Ten schedule, which is tough.”

Against the Scarlet Knights, Miller was called for holding on occasions in which he was beat by a defensive lineman. Turned around in pass protection, he sought to slow the defender from reaching quarterback Justin Fields by grabbing them. Only it drew yellow flags.

“It was a learning curve, of course,” left tackle Thayer Munford said, “but knowing how Harry is from the two years he's been here, he's going to overcome this. I know that for sure. He's working very hard to make sure he doesn't make the same mistakes again.”

As a freshman last season, Miller was the backup center behind Myers and is still seen as the heir apparent at that position. He was the nation’s No. 2-ranked center prospect in his recruiting class of 2019.

But the departure of Jonah Jackson, who was a senior last fall, left a hole at left guard, prompting the Buckeyes’ coaching staff to plug in Miller at the position.

In his second start, at Penn State, Miller fared better, and was graded as a “champion” by the staff.

Buckeyes coach Ryan Day believes some of the unevenness from Miller as a product of inexperience. Most offensive linemen do not emerge as full-time starters until their third season with the program.

Miller is a bit of an anomaly. He is smart and a quick study, grasping a new position during the offseason months and leaving Day confident he would manage to make improvements throughout this season.

“One of the things that gives him a chance to be a really good player is his ability to learn,” Day said. “He's very, very intelligent. He learns from things that go on. So many things that you see in a game is the first time you see it.

“You can't really replicate some of the defenses that we see on game day in practice. We see our defense, and that's over and over and over again. When we go against some of these other teams that play different styles, then you have to learn from it.”

Second-half sag

Defensive end Tyler Friday said finishing games is a high priority for the Buckeyes after they were outscored in the second half of their past two wins, over Rutgers and Penn State.

“You can't fall off of us like in the past couple games,” Friday said. “That's just not acceptable, so we definitely are going to emphasize that this week, and then hopefully finish that up the rest of the season.”

The Scarlet Knights outscored Ohio State by a 24-14 margin in the final two quarters, while the Nittany Lions outscored the Buckeyes 19-17 during the second half.

In both games, Ohio State had built a comfortable margin by halftime before easing up.

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman