Sometime back in the summer, there was a published prediction that at some point this year someone in the Arkansas receiving group would jump into the single-game charts in the media guide.
Forgive me, but I didn't think it would be Lucas Miller. He's not someone I had in mind to fit like a glove in Bobby Petrino's feed-the-stud system.
The rail-thin, 6-3, 201-pound junior from Huntington and Greenwood High fooled everyone Saturday at Scott Field. He was the toughest Razorback in a 31-28 loss to Mississippi State. Miller went deep, he bounced off linebackers, made catches despite no calls on interference and he hauled in the bomb that has been missing from the Arkansas passing attack.
In short, Miller was the main man to make redshirt freshman Nathan Dick look good in his first career start. Those two hooked up 10 times for 201 yards.
That's better than James Shibest, Anthony Lucas, Chuck Dicus or Marcus Monk ever did in an Arkansas uniform. It was only the second time a Razorback went over 200 yards in a game, just behind Mike Reppond's 204 against Rice in 1971.
Bobby Petrino made it simple afterwards when Miller's name was mentioned.
"He had a good game," Petrino said. "He practiced well, he reads defenses well. He reads the middle of the field. And, he's a very good competitor. He gets ready to practice and he works hard in the training room to be ready to play."
Miller said it was just a matter of understanding the game plan and taking advantage of some holes in an otherwise tough defense.
"We had an extra week to work and our coaches stressed getting into the film room," Miller said.
"It played out just like the coaches told us it would as far as their defense. Nathan stepped up and made some nice throws, some big passes. That was nice to see.
"We saw a lot of things we could manipulate, but we didn't win and that's the overall goal."
The toughness has always been there with Miller. He was the same at Greenwood when he caught 58 passes his senior year. He also played free safety and lettered in basketball, soccer, and baseball.
Watching spring ball with Greenwood coach Rick Jones, there was the tidbit Miller was practicing with a cracked pelvis. Instead of taking three weeks off to recover, Miller decided to limp through practice and live through the pain in hopes of turning the heads of his new coaches.
"He's a tough kid," wideout coach Paul Petrino said. "He's been getting better every week. We thought the ‘W' receiver would be open down the middle of the field some."
Nathan Dick said the game plan featured Miller. He'd gone to Miller late in the South Carolina game, too.
"We've been working on some of that for two weeks," Dick said, noting the 87-yard strike on the Hogs' second possession. "The coverage was to the other side of the field so Lucas was probably going to be open.
"We had Lucas open on the backside, a lot of one-on-one coverage and he took advantage of that. I feel like Lucas runs some great routes. I do have confidence going to him."
Miller liked what he saw of Dick from the very start.
"He composed himself well in the huddle," Miller said. "He showed some fire in the huddle."
Perhaps, but the man with the most fire seemed to be Miller. He got knocked sideways on one catch, catching the full blow of the safety. But he got the first down anyway. He hauled in a 30-yarder at the end of the third quarter, taking a hit from the safety before the ball arrived. He had position for another heave on a deep out route, but another possible interference wasn't called and that set up Dick's only interception.
Too bad the defense didn't have some of Miller's fire. The lack of toughness in stopping the run -- and the lack of depth at linebacker when Wendel Davis hurt his leg -- will be what most remember about the loss.
Defensive coordinator Willy Robinson ran out of ways to say his group didn't tackle.
When Davis went to the locker room in the first half, Jerry Franklin had to move from weakside to middle linebacker with little-used Elston Forte moving to weakside. That seemed to be where big Anthony Dixon rumbled the most on his 179-yard day.
"Elston was a little rusty to say the least," Robinson said. "We had repped that look. Those runs, we just didn't fit it right. It was base coverage in the 13th week and we didn't fit it."
Robinson was done with his interview, stepping away from the microphones when someone threw out frustration as a summation.
"Yeah," Robinson muttered, "with a capital F."
Miller Performs Like a Stud
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