Miller Time: Sophomore Adds Muscle to NT

Members of the sports media tend to roll their eyes when Texas coaches dodge incessant questions about depth-chart by speaking of co-starters. But the moniker is truly applicable at NT. Junior Derek Lokey will likely open with the Ones against North Texas, but will also share snaps with super-sophomore Roy Miller.

"I expect us to rotate a lot," Roy Miller said. "That's what we've been doing all month and all spring. We really believe in each other and trust each other. If the other guy is playing, I'm cheering him on just like he's cheering me on when I'm playing. We've got good depth. We've got a lot of good players."

In fact, Texas boasts an abundance of depth along its D-line not seen in coach Mack Brown's nine-year tenure. The defensive front lost a pair of DTs in Larry Dibbles and All-American Rod Wright. Yet, pigskin pundits predict Texas' front four will be the stoutest in recent memory thanks to three-deep personnel at DE, All-American candidate Frank Okam at DT, and a pair of scrappy NTs in Lokey and Miller shoring up the interior.

Miller has been likened, in both stature and potential, to former Longhorn standout Casey Hampton. The only Five-Star commit in Texas' 2005 recruiting class, Miller saw action in 10 games as a true freshman, notching 10 tackles, three QB pressures and one PBU on the season.

"He has really come on as a very aggressive player and has a great first step," Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik said of Miller. "He's a young guy who's still in the learning process. He didn't play a lot last year, but the times that he did play really carries over to experience. He played in the Rose Bowl championship game. He's got to keep coming on and progressing to where we'd like him to go. He can really help our defense."

Between spring football and August camp, Miller scheduled weekly sessions with strength-and-conditioning coach Jeff 'Mad Dog' Madden.

"That got me real strong," Miller said. "A lot of good things happened this summer, so I feel very confident in that way. Therefore, I can just go out there and do what I've got to do."

Part of what Miller, and fellow D-linemen, have 'got to do' this season is get a stronger push from the defensive front so sacks won't result primarily from blitzing linebackers. Texas tallied 34 sacks last season, with DE Brian Robison leading the way with seven. But Texas has not had a double-digit sack leader since Tony Brackens racked-up 10 in 1995.

"It's definitely the goal to get that push," Miller continued. "We've been working hard on that. When you train, that's always in the back of your mind to get the pass rush. We definitely feel like all of our hard work is going to pay off. We're very competitive, so we don't ever like to lose at anything. We like to come off the ball as hard as we can. Our coach really stresses that competitive drive. We want to come off the ball as hard and as fast as we can."

Okam slid from NT to DT this past spring where he should be harder to double-team in Chizik's three-technique. Head coach Mack Brown has long said that the slightly-undersized Miller and Lokey have the body-types that make it difficult for offensive linemen to gain leverage against them.

"The nose tackle, in the three-technique, has to be able to take the double-teams on and fight 'em," Miller told Inside Texas. "You've got to fight like crazy. In the three-technique, you've got to have a better step and you've got to be able to run fast, long and hard. And you've definitely got to have a good pass rush."

Players report back to Austin on Sunday evening following a weekend break. Texas' first press conference of the 2006 regular season is set for Monday morning.

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