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In the Trenches with Josh Miller
Release: 10/11/2002
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Oct. 11, 2002

Josh Miller may look like a gentle giant off the field, where his shyness becomes evident, but between the sidelines the sophomore defensive tackle has established himself as an aggressive force bent on wrecking opposing offenses. In just his first year as a starter, Miller leads all Husky defensive linemen with 16 tackles, and has added one sack and three-and-a-half tackle for-loss. GoHuskies.com used the lure of Philly cheestesteaks to get the usually-shy Miller to open up about his Jekyll and Hyde demeanor, his 'Simpsons'-related nickname, and his love for defensive line coach Randy Hart.

GoHuskies.com: You look like a big teddy bear. What changes on game day?
Josh Miller: "I1m the quiet guy. I just go over all the situations in my head, and what I1m going to do."

GH: Defensive line coach Randy Hart has a legendary temper, and I've heard he saves some of his best material for you. What is it like working with him?
Miller: "I don't think he's picking on me. When I'm out there, I just think if he's yelling at me it's like a side view. I see that he's yelling, but I'm trying to get every piece of what he's yelling about in my head so I can learn. I don't think he's yelling at me; it's just his coaching style. When he yells, he's trying to coach me. I don't take it personally, I take it positively and listen to him coach me to find out what I'm doing wrong. (laughing) It does make me mad a lot of the time, though."

GH: When you first came in did you think, "Whoa, what's this guy all about?"
Miller: "Yeah, it was a big change for me because my coach in high school was a big calm guy. When he would coach me up he would tell me the move I had to do, with the technique I had to do, and with which foot I had to step. When I came in here, he came in yelling at me, OeYou've got to do this! You've got to move this way! You've got to put your foot this way!' He would tell me when he would yell at me, and at the beginning I didn't understand what he was trying to tell me because he would yelling. I was thinking negatively, like, OeThis guy's yelling at me because he doesn't like me.' It took me a while to understand that all the times he was yelling at me, he was trying to coach me."

GH: Washington switched from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 this year, adding an extra defensive lineman. Which is harder for you?
Miller: "Hmmm. It all depends. What's hardest, probably, is when we run a 5-2 and it's a pass, or when we run a 3-4 and they run. On the 3-4 in the run you have two gaps to cover, and when you're out there it seems like a wider view. In reality you have your linebackers backing you up. From my standpoint of making plays and wanting to make plays, it makes me feel like it's going to be harder for me to make a play."

GH: You came in playing d-line from the get go, do you ever entertain the notion of changing sides and lining up as a wide receiver?
Miller: "I'm happy with playing d-line. My fantasy is to one day, in this stadium, catch a football and run for a touchdown. If anything, I want to score a defensive touchdown."

GH: When you guys are doing one-on-one's during practice, who is the toughest offensive lineman to get around?
Miller: "I don't ever go against Khalif [Barnes], he's the best. Dan Dicks is pretty hard to get around, too, because he has a wider base."

GH: When you play on the FieldTurf, the little pieces of rubber fly up everywhere. Teams that have played on it before have complained about getting those tiny pieces in their eyes. Is that ever a problem for you, like after you tackle someone?
Miller: "For me it's not a problem. I don't pay attention to it. I'm too tired to pay attention to little things like that. It's a problem after practice, though, when you're in the locker room getting dressed and you feel all these little black balls all over your body falling off. That's a problem. The turf is great. The only disadvantage is that it lacks that smell of freshly-cut grass."

GH: Freshly-cut grass? Why is that such a big deal?
Miller: "When we went to the Holiday Bowl, and the Rose Bowl, whenever we came out to practice it smelled like freshly-cut grass. That reminds me of home."

GH: You're on the line with Tank [Terry Johnson], and word on the team is he's kind of a slob. What do you think his worst habit is?
Miller: "Habit? Like what he does? I really don't know what his worst habit is. I don't pay attention. I try to block that part out."

GH: Probably a wise move. Well, Terry is known as "Tank," and Kai Ellis is referred to as "The Creature." Do you have a nickname yet?
Miller: "No. Well, a lot of people call me Milhouse; Khalif Barnes made it up for me because I used to wear glasses all the time and I was the one who kept to himself, like Milhouse on OeThe Simpsons.' So Khalif called me Milhouse and Larry Tripplett thought it was the funniest thing. From then on they started calling me that."

GH: That's probably something you don't want coming up on ESPN or anything?
Miller: "I don't know. It doesn't bother me at all, if they wanted to do it wouldn't bother me. It's just a little weird to me."

GH: So is there any nickname beside Milhouse that you would like? What if I started calling you "The Angry Teddy Bear?"
Miller: (laughing) "NO! That is not acceptable!"

contributing to gohuskies.com Steve Hitchcock

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