Miami running back Lamar Miller rattled off his goals for this season without any hesitation:
Win every game.
Rush for more than 100 yards every game.
Win the ACC championship.
“That’s about it, really,” he said.
You’d think he was checking items off a grocery list instead of trying to become Miami’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Willis McGahee in 2002.
Whether he actually accomplishes that feat depends heavily upon how the carries will be shared with Mike James, who is also too talented to keep off the field, but Miller is the top playmaker in the group. He led Miami with six rushing touchdowns last season as a redshirt freshman and is poised for a breakout season. His 6.0 yards per carry average was the highest among rushers with at least 10 carries. He was also at his best against some of the best competition. Miller ran for 163 yards against Virginia Tech, a season-high for the team, and he ran for an average of 86.8 yards in ACC games -- third-best in the league.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” he said of reaching the 1,000-yard mark. “I’m just going to take it game by game, come out with a victory and help my team win games.”
With Miller and four starters returning on the offensive line, Miami’s offense has the potential to flourish in Year 1 under offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch (if, of course, they get some consistency at quarterback).
“Every day we’ve been competing, we’re bigger and stronger and in better conditioning,” Miller said. “Everyone has adjusted pretty well. [The coaching change] was a big move for some of the guys, but everybody overcame [it] and is working together to get better as a unit.”
If Miller’s performance in the spring game is any foreshadowing of what is to come, opposing ACC defenses should be concerned. Miller showcased his speed and explosiveness with touchdown runs of 70 and 64 yards. He finished the day with 10 carries for 166 yards. He is the fastest running back on the roster and the biggest home run threat.
Miller said that Storm Johnson's decision to transfer hasn’t affected the strength of the group nor has it affected the way he is mentally approaching this season. He is also well aware of the many Miami fans who are expecting big things from him this fall.
“The expectations are really high,” he said. “I just have to come out and do my assignment and just play my part.”
Miami fans are hoping to watch him do that 1,000 times over.