This is the eighth part in a series of football season preview articles by campus correspondent Luke Swanson, taking a closer look at some of the opponents UConn will be facing this season.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”
– Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”
UConn football might not have a hundred games this year, and they may want to fear the result of some of them, but Sun Tzu’s message nonetheless rings clear. For my UConn football preview series I’m going to focus on, in my opinion, the best or most interesting player on each team the Huskies face in the 2017 season.
In football, the treatment of the offensive line is paradoxical. The offensive line is easily the most important unit on the team and arguably do the most work, but they ride unnoticed unless fans look to discredit a running back’s skill or look to scrutinize them when they make a mistake.
In Tulsa, you’ll find that no one player on offense got all the recognition for how good their offense was last year. That’s mostly because the best overall unit on the team was the offensive line, which allowed Phil Montgomery’s offense to ride as high as it did.
The Golden Hurricanes ranked fourth in the NCAA for rushing offense and eighth in overall offense last year, all on the backs of an offensive line that included three different All-AAC linemen.
Junior center Chandler Miller was the best of the group, earning All-AAC first-team honors last year. Miller is also on the watch list for the 2017 Rimington Trophy, awarded to the best center in college football, and the Outland Trophy, awarded to the best interior lineman in the country.
Miller stands a stout 6’2” and weighs 290 lbs, which is pretty unremarkable for a lineman, but what makes him so good is his near-perfect form and quick feet.
In this touchdown run, he checks to see if the left guard needs any help, then meets the blitzing linebacker head-on, opening a gaping hole for D’Angelo Brewer to run through.
Tulsa’s games last year were full of tape like this. Just great form that goes unnoticed, but yields huge results.
Usually, a guard or tackle pulls on a play because they have the opportunity to time up the count and leave right as the ball is snapped. Centers don’t do this often because they have to concentrate on actually snapping the ball, so it makes perfect sense that Miller can do it with ease.
In this play, Miller executes the rare center pull perfectly, blasting through the hole shoulders square and sealing off the linebacker, opening a lane for Brewer to run through.
The entire Tulsa offensive line is going to be tough for UConn to handle, but if any team is equipped to handle it, it’s the Huskies. They return four seniors on the defensive line and six of the front seven, and they’ll need all of that experience to slow down Miller and the rest of the Golden Hurricane’s fearsome big men.
Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.