Caleb Miller's curly locks are longer than they were when this picture was taken at the season's outset.
A FIRESIDE CHAT WITH CALEB MILLER
By Nathan Striegler
On the field he's known for his ferocious hitting, sound tackling, and intense leadership. Off the field he's known for his laid-back personality, a great sense of humor, and his curiously curly blond hair. He's Arkansas' redshirt sophomore Caleb Miller, and he's entrenched as one of the starting outside linebackers. He spends most of his time chasing down quarterbacks and tailbacks behind the line of scrimmage. I managed to chase him down for a little Q & A.
Nathan Striegler: First of all, congratulations on a fantastic win Saturday night. How much does this mean to the team to get such a hard fought victory on the road against a very tough opponent?
Caleb Miller: It means a whole lot. It's a big booster. All of us basically said if we win the South Carolina game it's a new season. We believed and still do believe that we can win out. We knew it would be a hard game but Coach Nutt prepared us well. We went out and took a piece of their turf to get our minds right for the game, and to show them that they weren't going to just run over us.
NS: How was the defense able to hold Eli Manning and the explosive Rebel offense in-check for the majority of regulation?
CM: We had a good scheme against them. It stuffed the run pretty well. I think it was just everybody playing hard and knowing we were going to get the win.
NS: What was going through your mind as the overtime periods began to pile up?
CM: I didn't even know it was seven. I thought someone was kidding when they said it was seven overtimes. I knew it had been a long time, but you don't think about it. It just gets frustrating and keeps dragging on.
NS: Do you think conditioning was the main determining factor in winning the game?
CM: I think it helped. But the biggest factor was the team changing mentally, having confidence, playing together and believing that we weren't going to leave without our win.
NS: How satisfying is it for the defense to have a chance at one play to put the game away?
CM: I like that situation. All you have to say is "I'm going to do my job," and if everybody does that, there's no way they can score.
NS: How much has this team changed since the beginning of the year?
CM: Almost 180 degrees. We knew we were a good team. Things didn't happen the way we wanted them to at the beginning, but at some point, like I said with the South Carolina game, you had to have a turning point. It's hard to have confidence when you don't have experience. Once you've beaten somebody you start to get that confidence.
NS: What do you feel is the strength of this defense?
CM: When we are on the same page and play together, they can't get anything on us.
NS: What do you consider to be your individual strengths?
CM: You'd have to ask somebody else about that.
NS: In your first two years here you were able to learn from outstanding linebackers like Quentin Caver and J.J. Jones. Describe the impact these players had on you.
CM: They showed me how to act and how to carry yourself. They were good respectful guys. On the field they were good players. Especially Q (Quentin Caver). I watched him more than anybody else because of the way he played the game and his intensity.
NS: How much does it mean to the defense to see the offense moving the ball down the field, controlling the clock, and putting points on the board?
CM: That means a lot. It gives you more space to work with and its not as much pressure. It makes it easier for us to go out and dominate instead of trying to just stop them. It boosts the whole team's confidence.
NS: You starred at tailback as well as linebacker in high school. Do you ever wish you could play in the backfield again?
CM: Heck no. I'm slow, I'm white, and I don't have moves. Defense is more fun for me anyway. I'd rather hit somebody than try to run away from them.
NS: Who has been the most influential person in your life?
CM: I've had a lot of influential people. Probably my family, but especially my parents.
NS: If you could sit down and talk with any football player for an hour, who would it be?
CM: Joe Montana.