Syracuse senior center John Miller was a surprise during the spring as he rose to become the favorite to start at center in the season opener against Villanova. CuseNation.com caught up with the offensive lineman to discuss his rise, training camp and expectations for the offensive line as a whole.
On his improvement in the spring: “Definitely my offseason program. I definitely made it a point to put in the extra work and extra time. Watching film, getting in the weight room, getting in shape. Making sure I could really by the guy that coaches counted upon. Whether it’s the sixth man, backup, starter or two deep type thing, I wanted to be the player I can be for my senior season.”
On running out of the tunnel as a starter: “It doesn’t stop there. I would definitely be excited. It’s something I’ve dreamed about. It’s a childhood dream to play division football let alone be a starter. That’s just the next step. Come out of the tunnel healthy and continue to help us try to get a championship.”
On differences between coach Perles and coach Adam: “Coach Perles was teaching us zone schemes and gap schemes, kind of basic. I think coach Adam gets more into the basics and the nitty-gritty. Coach got on me today. He said ‘my job is to teach you the first two steps and then it’s about your God-given ability.’ He just really focuses on having a great first step, having good hand placement and having your eyes in the gap. Whatever it takes to get you in the right position and that’s when you can use your strength and your power to continue from there.”
On training camp: “I definitely have to keep improving. You make a goal for yourself each day and that’s what you tell yourself in the morning. What I want to focus on. You go into the meeting and watch the film to see if I met them goals or not and go from there. We don’t really have any bench marks as far as grading I guess you could say. But when you watch the film you want the running back to break free, you don’t want him to get touched. You don’t want any sacks on the quarterback or things like that. That’s how the team is graded. But myself personally, I set goals for myself every day.”
On the fast-paced offense: “Definitely you want to be in better shape. In junior college I ran the same style of offense. Spread offense, on the ball, fast-paced kind of thing. I’m kind of used to it in that sense. Just getting your body ready is the key. You want to be leaner, you want to be running a little bit more and having more wind. Because you want to catch the defensive linemen in the wrong technique or not having his hand in the dirt. That all is part of our system and key to us having success. Us being in shape and being able to go 7, 8, 9, 10 play drives quick definitely helps our game and makes us explosive on that side of the ball.”
On the offensive line as a whole: “We’re definitely progressing. There’s no such thing as perfection. We’re definitely improving. Ivan is finally getting back into camp mode. He wasn’t with us in the spring so he’s knocking a little bit of the rust off and he’s doing better. Mike Lasker is competing with him and we have us four on the interior. Hickey is perfecting his technique and what not. I think as a group, we’re just battling in there. We’re all brothers. We’re all trying to compete. We’re all trying to play obviously. We’re just trying to find the most consistent five and we’ll go from there as a unit.”