CLEMSON - Justin Miller is the only true freshman expected to play for
Clemson this season.
Perhaps it's as much for his off-field demeanor as his on-field talents.
Miller recorded his second interception of the season in Saturday's 30-7
victory over Ball State. He also recorded three tackles in his role as backup
But it was uncommon maturity displayed with the media during the postgame
routine that was as eye-catching as anything he did on the field.
"(We heard) it wasn't supposed to be a close game, we were supposed to come
out here and blow them out," Miller said. "But we can't get caught up in the
hype of the media, or whatever. We just have to come out and play our game."
If there was a tendency to take the Cardinals lightly, it was squashed almost
from the opening whistle.
Ball State drove 77 yards on the game's opening possession and scored on a
three-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Talmadge Hill to Ryan Hahaj. The
Cardinals moved the ball at will on the drive, alternating Hill's short
passing with power runs from tailback Marcus Merriweather.
"They came out on that first series and let us know they could beat us if we
didn't get ready to play," Miller said.
Fortunately for Clemson, the defense got its act together.
Ball State finished with just 220 total yards and committed four turnovers,
two fumbles and two interceptions. One of the pickoffs came courtesy of a
ball Miller batted to himself in deep coverage on a Cardinals' receiver in
the third quarter.
The turnover led to Clemson points, and Miller said that is the operating
theme for the Tigers' defense in 2002.
"We want to score on offense, but we want to score on defense, too," he said.
"Forcing four turnovers is great. We're trying to be one of the best defenses
in the country at forcing turnovers.
"This was a starting point today."