Zach Miller Not Easily Satisfied

Even though he was rated nationally as the best tight end prospect in the 2004 recruiting class, ASU coaches and fans are still somewhat surprised at the instant success that the former Phoenix Desert Vista high school standout is enjoying. Nevertheless, the true freshman told DevilsDigest that there is still much he can improve on.

The bye week was a mixture of good and bad for Zach Miller. His body did get a much-needed break, but he witnessed his alma mater lose to its bitter rival Mountain Pointe. "Yeah, I was pretty pissed off about that (smile)," he exclaimed. "We had a six-game winning streak, but that how it goes sometimes…I spent a lot of time relaxing, getting my legs back. I rested all the nicks and scrapes that I've got. The bye week came in a real nice time - right in the middle of the season."

Thus far in the 2004 season, Miller is third on the team with receptions (14), yards (151), and is tied for second with three touchdowns. However, the tight end hardly sounds like one who is resting on his laurels. "I'm usually pretty hard on myself, so I'll say I'm doing all right," he explained. "I'm still making a lot of freshman mistakes…stuff I know I should be doing better. I'm trying to work hard on that and play like an upperclassman – not a freshman."

"I'm doing a pretty good job blocking," Miller continued as he assed his game. "But the weakness is my technique. I'm still using the technique I learned in high school. It's just a bad habit thinking I can just run over anyone. At this level I have to have good technique and do everything right. That way I can have an edge on players that are bigger, stronger and faster than me. I'm doing a good job catching the ball, and I haven't dropped too many passes expect for one or two (smile)."

Miller stated that it was hard for him to be surprised at his play, because his expectations aren't easily fulfilled. Thus, he gives himself an "average" grade at the midway point of the season. On the other hand, he's far from astonished by his team's 5-0 start. "I'm not surprised at all, because I knew this team would be good. That's why I wanted to come here. Now everyone else is seeing it, and it feels great." He also admitted with a big smile that playing for the Sun Devils is "still a lot more fun" than playing at Desert Vista.

When asked about the match up with USC this weekend, and the challenges it presents to ASU's offense, he replied: "They got a great front four. They're all athletic and very physical players. They're a lot more talented compared to the other teams we played. Those guys fly all over the field, and can make plays from the backside. They run an NFL type defense, but it's not that different from what we're seeing. I'm gonna have to block real well this week to get the running game going."

Much has already being said about the emotions running high in the maroon and gold camp leading up to this battle of the conference's unbeaten. What kind of approach does this true freshman take in this regard? "I try not to get excited too much during the week," he commented, "and wait until Saturday to get excited. But for a game like this it's hard not to get excited because you're playing the #1 team in the country."

Miller knows that he counts on veterans such as Andrew Walter, Drew Hodgdon and others to give him invaluable advice before such a monumental contest. "They're always letting me know what's going on, especially Lee Burghgraef. He played at basically every place in the Pac-10." Even without those words of wisdom, his even keel personality and steadfast play should prevent him from buckling under the bright lights. Zach Miller may think he's average, but the ASU coaches and fans would gladly beg to differ.

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