With the hire of offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, the slate was clean for Miller. Just like every offensive lineman on the team, he had a fresh start to earn a starting spot this fall. In 2013, he started the season as Michigan’s starting center. He stated U’M’s first four games. Then, well, he was relegated to the bench and finished his season playing mostly on special teams.
But with Nussmeir’s hire, a new opportunity was in front of him. Miller, who is now a redshirt junior, knew he had to get stronger in 2014 if he wanted to see the field. So – he did.
“I think a whole another off-season is a chance for you get to get bigger and stronger,” Miller said. “I couldn’t say it was another chance to learn the offense, because everyone started new in January. But like I said, it’s another chance to big and strong, which is kind of important when you play offensive line.”
Currently, Miller stands at 6-foot-4, 299-pounds and has been a solid presence in Michigan’s offensive line early on this season.
"I think as much as anything it is maturity [has stood out],” said Michigan coach Brady Hoke. “I think his maturity, how he has developed and the responsibility within this offense. I'm not going to say it's greater, but there's more emphasis on that. I think that has helped him grow as a leader but also from the football-intelligence, instinct part of it. I think that is as big of a difference.”
Being bigger and stronger, Miller took full advantage of the reps he had in practice, and now it’s translated into games.
“You know, you go through the rest of that off-season, spring ball, all the things you do in the off-season, then to fall --- that’s a lot of practice,” Miller said. “There’s a lot of reps in there. It helps you become a better player taking all those types of reps. I think I’m getting to a point where I am playing pretty consistent. I think the main contribution to that is experience.”
Despite the offensive lines early season success, Miller isn’t reading too many press clipping. He knows all too well a bad game can change the tune of his critics.
“The heat is off right now,” Miller said. “It’s going into week four. But if we don’t play well, the heat will be back on next week. I don’t know if it’s there or not there, it’s got the potential to be there. We are playing better this season. And we’re looking forward to keep that going.”
Michigan (2-1) plays host to Utah (2-0) this Saturday at 3:30 p.m.