SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — “Being able to talk to him over these months that I’ve known him, I’ve really gotten close to him because I’m similar to him in a lot of ways…and I can say there isn’t a better guy to come in and continue a great tradition at Texas.”
As Texas finishes up preparation for the Fiesta Bowl, Roy Miller talks with Inside Texas about how the Horns are going to stop the Ohio State running attack, how this team became so close, his relationship with Will Muschamp, his thoughts on his coordinator being named coach in waiting and more.
Q: How does going up against Terrelle Pryor compare to going up against Vince Young, since you’ve gone up against him in practice? Do you think it’s a similar sort of thing to prepare for?
Roy Miller: Yeah, he has the same mobility as Vince Young. He can run around you and stuff like that, but to compare somebody to Vince Young I think is unfair. He’s a young guy. I don’t know how Vince Young was his (true freshman) year, but Terrelle Pryor’s doing very, very well for a freshman. He doesn’t play like a freshman. We know he’s a threat and we know we have to contain him somehow and try to stop him.
Q: The toughest part of defending a guy like that is probably the broken play, where he can just make things happen on his own. How do you plan on containing him?
Miller: We’ve got guys like (Brian) Orakpo and Sergio (Kindle) on the the D-line trying to get the guy. I think ‘Rak might run the same speed as Pryor. I’m not sure, but I know ‘Rak is real fast and I know Sergio may even be a slight bit faster than ‘Rak. ‘Rak can probably run a 4.5 and that’s very comforting to me.
Q: Speaking of Orakpo, he, along with yourself, has become a hugely influential leader on this team. At what point did the defense know that he was going to be running the show?
Miller: Last spring, during spring training, ‘Rak and a lot of guys realized that for us to be successful in the Big 12, we would have to take charge of this team because people don’t realize that before this year we were picked to lose every game. Even you guys probably voted us down…
Q: Yeah, I had y’all at 9-3…
Miller: Exactly. Nobody believed that we’d make it this far. At the time we had to really go back to the basics. I remember that ‘Rak got into a little physical…uh…argument, a physical argument with somebody because they weren’t doing the right thing and that kind of set the tone for things and that kind of let guys know that this is a different senior class and we’re taking charge of things. We took control of the team, ‘Rak led it, and guys were scared to do the wrong thing. And they wanted to be cool like Orakpo. They wanted to follow ‘Rak because a lot of guys on our team think he’s real cool and they want to do what he does. When you’ve got a guy like that doing the right things, it changes things for everybody.
Q: Why was there some resistance initially from some guys to being on the same page as the team?
Miller: A lot of times you have difficulty trying to lead guys because some guys don’t want to seem like they’re doing the main stream thing. “It’s not cool to do the same thing.” But now everybody’s doing, you know, what everybody’s doing and it’s such a good thing to be around guys that aren’t afraid to stand out because of the good things that they do. Guys like Orakpo, (Ryan) Palmer and a lot of guys here who don’t get the credit today are very much a part of that. Coach (Will) Muschamp, also.
Q: It does seem like attitude is the difference with this team. I remember in preseason I had predicted 9-3 for y’all and then I go out and watch the first day of practice in August. After the first day of practice I come back and change it to 10-2 and say, “Folks, this team is better than you think. They’re running around, hitting people. There’s something different here from what I’ve seen in the past.” Y’all showed that your first day in practice. Where did that begin?
Miller: I want to say it began Holiday Bowl practice. We were just going at it. We were sick of everybody saying we’re soft. The leaders on the team took control of that. Coach (Mack) Brown sat the team down and he gave us a real good butt-chewing about the things we were doing wrong. He said he wasn’t taking it anymore and from there it trickled down. We all felt that same way and I’ve never seen Coach Brown that upset. You’ve got to understand that the pride of our school was on the line. We’d won 10 games for so many years and that was on the line. Coach Brown, he snapped and went off on us and we realized then we had to change. Coach Brown then did a great job of bringing Coach Muschamp in. Coach Muschamp has done a great job of bringing a different mentality to our team. You know, a hard hat, blue collar mentality and we all feed off that. For Coach Muschamp is “Bring your lunch pail every day, we’re going to work.”
Q: So when he was named the coach-in-waiting, that was well received?
Miller: I couldn’t think of a better guy. He has so much energy, he prides himself on hard work, on coming to work every day. He told me one day, “Either you wake up and you’re ready to go or you’re just a punk.” So when I heard that I was like, “Man, this guy really means it.” And being able to talk to him over these months that I’ve known him, I’ve really gotten close to him because I’m similar to him in a lot of ways. His story and being able to coach in the NFL, he told me the best thing for him was to be able to see guys get cut, see that it’s real life and you can lose your job, things can happen that can change your life. He said that was one of the best lessons that he’s learned and I guess he really cherishes every moment. He wakes up every day and guys are sitting around frowning and he’s like “Hey!,” trying to get guys riled up. He has so much energy. You see him dancing with us once there’s a big play and that’s just the mentality he brings to this team and I can say there isn’t a better guy to come in and continue a great tradition at Texas.
Q: Did the decision seem out of the blue to y’all?
Miller: Yeah. You know, we hear Coach Brown talk all the time about if he wasn’t there or he had a heart attack, we’d still play, but I guess Coach Brown is getting a little bit older and he realizes that one day he’ll be gone and I think it’s a great thing to hire somebody from within because you keep a lot of the same traditions, you keep everything going. You never miss a beat. It was a great choice for Coach Brown to do that and Coach Muschamp is a great coach. I’m glad that he’s staying. We were hoping that he wouldn’t leave and go off somewhere else. We’re glad he’ll be here because there’s no other coach I’ve had as much fun playing for or had as much respect for as Coach Muschamp.
Q: You’ve mentioned that you’d like to see Lamarr Houston at fullback next season (see the Jan. 2 edition of the Inside Scoop)…
Miller: Yes, and he’s got great hands too. You’d definitely get an upgrade because I didn’t have any hands this year.
Q: Yeah, there was that drop against OU. But (Derek) Lokey got a pass in the Holiday Bowl last year. Do you think you’ve gotten back in good enough graces with the coaches to get one against Ohio State?
Miller: I hope not. I’ve told them I don’t want to be remembered as the guy who had no hands. I played the whole game as a D-tackle and because I dropped one pass it was like I didn’t play in the game as a D-tackle. It’s crazy. But who knows? You might see a sweep, you might see a fullback dive.
Q: Fullback pass, maybe?
Miller: Nah. No, no, no.
Note: The conversation between Miller and Inside Texas occurred at a press availability out in Arizona. A couple of other reporters approached during the conversation and asked a couple of the questions in the transcription.