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By LARRY VAUGHT
Junior left tackle Darrian Miller, who has played in 24 games and made 14 starts, is being counted on to anchor UK’s revamped offensive line this season. Miller was ranked as one of the nation’s top 20 offensive tackles by Scout.com coming out of Bryan Station High School and played all 12 games as a true freshman, including two starts. This year he’s adjusting to a new offense and new position coach in John Schlarman during spring practice and offered these insights on how the adjustment is going.
Question: What has working with new offensive line coach John Schlarman been like?
Miller: “Intense to say the least. Focuses a lot on tempo and finish. Pretty intense.”
Question: What is the biggest difference between Schlarman and Mike Summers, your former line coach?
Miller: “Coach Summers was definitely in your face. Coach Schlarman does that a little bit more than coach Summers did. Coach Summers when he got disappointed, he would kind of quiet down. I don’t know why necessarily, but coach Schlarman will let you know when you do something wrong immediately.”
Question: Is this system radically different for an offensive lineman to learn?
Miller: “No, it’s not hard. I have pretty much down except for the few minor adjustments we have to make for the different blitzes and stuff that we see. But for the most part, I have it down.”
Question: Does it seem kind of amazing how you have gone from a guy hoping to play two years ago to the offensive line anchor?
Miller: “It does quick. When I came in, I really wasn’t expecting to play at all. Now starting and having that type of responsibility is kind of different. It’s not overwhelming. I don’t get overwhelmed very easy, but it has been something I have had to adjust to.”
Question: Have you changed more as a person or player in your time at UK?
Miller: “A little bit of both, but I think I have changed more as a person. When I was a freshman, I was quite irresponsible. Now I stay pretty focused all the time.”
Question: Are you even more comfortable with interviews now than two years ago?
Miller: “You get used to it and now I am a team leader, too.”
Question: How good could this offense be?
Miller: “I think it could be very good. The hurry-up, defenses won’t be able to handle that. Our offensive line can barely handle that. We still have to get used to that hurry-up and coaches have said we are not going as fast as we need to be going. As soon as everyone actually picks up the offense and gets it down, we will be moving a lot faster than we are now.”
Question: Does an offensive lineman condition different or more for this offense?
Miller: “Most of our conditioning comes from practice. During practice we are always up tempo. Get here fast, do this fast. It’s always very tempo oriented and that is where you get most of your conditioning in.”
Question: How physical will this offense be?
Miller: “It is pretty physical. You have to anchor down at times, especially in pass rush. We pass a lot and when a team passes a lot the defensive ends tend to key on that and rush up the field harder than they normally would. We have to be physical in the rush and pass.”
Question: How is it going without Matt Smith to anchor the line at center like he did the last two years for you?
Miller: “Besides high snaps, they are doing okay. They need to get their snaps down. Another thing is that they don’t necessarily get the calls out fast enough, so you actually have to know your assignment and the other players around you assignments. You kind of have to figure stuff out for yourself sometimes, but they will get a better understanding as we go.”