Brit Miller is a senior linebacker from Decatur, Illinois who has taken the role of team leader on defense. In the Illini's first game of the season against the Missouri Tigers, it didn't seem like anyone wanted to tackle, but Miller has been solid all season long. His performance is especially important given that tackling appears to be a weakness for this year's team.
"I watch game film, see what mistakes I make and try to improve on them each week," Miller said in an earlier interview.
So what has Miller done this year? He leads the Big Ten in tackles, averaging 12 tackles a game. It's still early but it appears he could run away in that category this year. Not only does Miller lead the Big Ten in tackles, but he ranks third in the county, behind only Derrick Richardson of New Mexico State and Frantz Joseph from Florida Atlantic. Richardson leads the entire country, averaging 19 tackles a game. The next closest person to Miller in the Big Ten is Anthony Heygood of Purdue, who averages nine tackles a game.
This Saturday Illinois takes on Penn State, and the Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten in scoring at a clip of 52.8 points per game. Their passing game is averaging 265 yards a game and the Penn State rushing attack checks in with an average of 273 yards a game.
"We know how good Penn State is," Miller stated. "They have a mobile quarterback in Daryll Clark. He's very mobile; we have to make sure we put pressure on him."
The Illini enter this contest as a 14-point underdog. Miller and his teammates love the idea of being underdogs, and look forward to the challenge that awaits them on Saturday. The entire football team has a different swagger to them this week. The players seem to have that extra step, and it all started on Monday. "Whenever there is excitement at 6 a.m. Monday for the lift, you know guys are looking forward to it," Miller said.
With the emergence of Miller, it's possible that by the end of Saturday's game, the real "Linebacker U" could be determined. For years there's been a quiet argument as to which school has the best linebackers - Illinois or Penn State? Both have great history, but none of the Nittany Lions has touched former Illini great Dick Butkus.