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One-on-One with the Pirates
, August 29, 2011

By Ron Cherubini

Q&A with Matt Milner

By Ron Cherubini
All rights reserved.

When Matt Milner came into the East Carolina program, he was noted as a workman-like defensive end, a bit bigger, but with a similar motor to former undersized but highly effective end Zack Slate. Milner, quiet and focused, went to work and to the surprise of many, battled his way to the top of the defensive end depth chart heading into the 2010 campaign. After a few weeks into the season, however, with the depth chart obliterated by injuries, the redshirt freshman Milner and his true freshman counterpart Darrell Johnson, found themselves playing every snap, virtually, in every game. There was no back-up, really.

But Milner, who is known to be an academic standout as well, used the experience – albeit grueling physically – as a learning experience and one that sets the noticeably bulkier DE up for what should be a solid 2011 campaign. He is a playmaker from the end position and he is convinced that he and his teammates will make enough plays this year to drag the ECU defense up from the national cellar and make a difference in the season.

Matt was kind enough to sit down for a chat with Bonesville to share his insights on the upcoming season.

Matt Milner (98) in action last season (ECU SID photo)

One-on-One with Matt Milner

Q: Not only were you thrust into the starting role at DE, you ended playing 80-90 snaps a game. Were you surprised when you found yourself atop the depth chart in your first active season a year ago?

A: You know, it was a long season… it was a tough season having to take most of the snaps last year. Our bodies definitely felt it. But, coming into this season, we know what we did last season, what to expect, and we know how to better prepare ourselves for this season. Working this camp, we are all coming into this camp in great, great shape and all of us are ready for this season to begin.

Q: The off-season brought word of a change to the 3-4. Can you share your thoughts on this switch and what it means for you?

A: It is a little bit of a change in technique from what we are used to playing but the mentality of the defense is that we are all going to get to the ball. No missed tackles. A little change of technique, but the mentality has not changed. We are taking it to the offensive line every snap and we are not going to take anything for granted this season.

Q: A lot of coaches and players say that once a player gets that first season on the field in real games behind them, things start to become second nature, slow down some. Are you seeing that yourself in your play?

A: Having last season under the belt with all of the snaps we took in there, I feel like it was a really great learning year. Now I can apply what I have seen and learned in games to this season to pick my game up. It sets things up for this year knowing better what to expect.

Q: Are you seeing improvement around you in terms of the guys who were thrown into it last season? Do you see the impact of Coach Jeff Connors program?

A: Everybody, when we were called up at the end of practice today, it is just very noticeable how much bigger we are… how much muscle we have all put on with Coach (Jeff) Connors. We can all still run and move and we are actually quicker, too. It really is impressive to see how much quicker and stronger we are this season.

Q: What player on this team do you most respect and why?

A: Everybody has their role on this team. People step up at different times and everybody knows what they have got to do out here. There are times when someone you didn’t really think about will step up and make a play. That is what this defense is about… stepping up and making the plays. So, I have to say that I respect each guy out here on our defense too much to say just one.

Q: What player on this offense would you hate to have to play defense against?

A: You know, our O-line, they give us a really great look during our team drills. Any one of those guys… they really work their butts off and they are going to be a great part of this offense this year.

Q: Antonio Allison was moved out to DE and you are getting your first look a John Lattimore. What are your thoughts of the state of the position right now?

A: I definitely like what I am seeing. Last year, we were really thin at the D-end position. This year, switching things around, we have a lot of healthy people out here. A lot of great players and we are all working each other every day at practice. It is a different situation this year and it is noticeable.

E-mail Ron Cherubini

Ron Cherubini Archives

08/29/2011 02:34 AM


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