Sunday, September 4, 2011
Kansas coach Turner Gill talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 42-24 victory over McNeese State on Sept. 3, 2011.
Finally, Kansas linebacker Steven Johnson was able to see some other defense try to tackle KU freshman running back Darrian Miller.
In practice, Johnson admits it hasn’t been easy.
“It’s just like, ‘How is he getting extra yards?’ because his legs never stop moving,” Johnson said following KU’s 42-24 victory over McNeese State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium. “He’s a good running back, and he’s only going to make our offense better.”
Miller was one of a few true freshmen who showed potential in their first collegiate game Saturday, when he rushed 13 times for 63 yards — an average of 4.8 yards per carry.
“I think he has a combo as a running back,” KU receiver Kale Pick said. “He can run over people and make people miss at the same time. He’s does a really good job at spinning and breaking tackles. He has that double threat.”
Miller also showed consistency.
Each of his first four carries — and seven of his nine in the first half — went for at least five yards.
Most of those were on inside runs. KU coach Turner Gill said the freshman didn’t get many opportunities Saturday to use his speed on the edge.
Miller’s longest run of 12 late in the second quarter helped set up a Tony Pierson 13-yard rushing touchdown.
“(Darrian’s) just a big-play threat, another one of those,” KU tight end Tim Biere said. “You know he can find a little bit of space and wiggle through there and break some tackles and take it to the house. That’s good to have.”
Miller, who was not available for postgame interviews, came to KU as a highly touted running back out of Blue Springs (Mo.) High.
The 5-foot-10, 181-pounder was ranked a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and also the top player in Missouri for the class of 2011.
He was KU’s second running back to get into Saturday’s game, coming in during the Jayhawks’ second series following sophomore James Sims.
Pick said he’d been impressed by Miller since the first days of spring practices, when the back broke away for a few long runs during a scrimmage.
“He showed us what he could do and made people miss and made some big runs,” Pick said. “Now you guys are starting to see what he can do on game day.”
Johnson said the linebackers have already had discussions about Miller in practice, talking about how he’s a player that has to be wrapped up to be taken down.
“I’ve been telling people that he is slippery,” Johnson said. “Darrian’s going to be really good.”