Many have speculated that Milligan's back injury would keep him off the field this season. Milligan says he's playing. "I'm holding up pretty good," said Milligan. "They are cautious that I will be ready for the first game so they don't want me to blow it out in practice but I think I'll be good to go for Washington State."
The Irish trainers have been limiting what he can do but he has shown up to play every day in fall practice so far. "I've been trying to go as much as I can. They limit what they will let me do as they don't want me to over work it but I've been doing what I can and getting in there and trying to mix it up."
Milligan said the offensive line looked good in the last scrimmage but they can improve. "There is always room for improvement in what we did. We had a good day - we did a lot of good things. Some things we didn't do well and we need to build on and correct those things. I think it was a good start, we have a week to play and it's just a building block for us. A live game will be good experience for us and that in turn will give us more focus for Washington State."
The starters didn't see as much time in the scrimmage and Milligan thinks that decision will help them build some much needed depth. "The first team had their plays and they made an effort to get the second guys in there to make sure they get that kind of experience and know what they had to get done. I think that was good for them. The coaches know that we can play so it was an opportunity to check out the other guys towards the end of practice, to see that they can play and so they can get their reps. They showed they can move the ball down the field too."
The offensive line as a whole is starting to come together according to Milligan. He thinks they've built a strong bond among the whole unit. "I definitely think we are coming together more. There is more of an attitude where we come together and help each other out. If there are any questions to be answered they will come to us to try and help them out. That is good--we have a good core going into game week."
Depth will be a concern but Milligan says they have guys they are confident in. "We definitely have some depth. They are trying to get a lot of guys some experience, some playing time so they can step in if any of the o-line go down."
Milligan says the offensive line is very close to becoming a strength for the offense. He says the starters feel confident with the plays and are executing at a high level--the reserves still struggle at time. "Maybe for the younger guys but the other guys have picked it up pretty well. We've had very few busts in terms of assignment, like knowing where to go in certain plays. It's harder for the younger guys, it's overwhelming for them in the beginning. Us older guys have a solid base so it's just a little more added to it, it's not too complicated but the younger guys may have a little trouble with it."
"I think we are pretty close," said Milligan. "We just have to make sure everyone is healthy and get ourselves in the mindset of game because practice is practice but game is a totally different thing. Once everyone is on that same page I think we will be good to go."
The Irish running backs struggled with blitz pickup last year. Milligan says he's seen an improvement by the backs in picking up the blitz this year. "I've seem more of that, backs usually going the right way on the best pick up so we've got more time in the pocket for Carlyle for him to do what he needs to do. That should help us out a lot. They seem to be getting to their assignments and making the play."
Pass protection is important but Milligan says it all starts with the running game. "One of our main goals is to open up the holes, we have some guys out there who can run. If we can get the holes open they will hit them. That's what we have to do, to sustain blocks and keep them open because there are a lot of cut back lanes. We can do that so the backs can hit the hole hard."
So what is a good year for Sean Milligan? "A good year for me would be winning every game, being a dominant player out there and a National Championship."