Appalachian State's running game has increased its production each week of the season thus far. This improved play has come despite the loss of its starting running back, Rod Chisholm, who could return to the field this Saturday against Chattanooga.
Whether he does or not, though, the Mountaineers have moved the ball on the ground. Last week, Steven Miller rushed for a career high 167 yards and three touchdowns on just 21 carries.
His production has improved and a big reason for it has been increased patience with the ball and a willingness to wait for his running lanes to open before looking to create. The result has obviously made the coaching staff happy and excited about what he can do going forward through the remainder of the season.
"Steven is doing a great job with his reads and being patient," offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford said. "He's making the guys up front better with his ability to run the ball."
While Ledford deflected praise to Miller for ASU's ability to run the ball better as of late, the senior running back does the exact opposite.
He points to his young offensive line and what they have been able to do in terms of giving him an opportunity to move the ball with little resistance. In fact, Miller did not lose a single yard on the ground last week, which he gives complete credit to the offensive line for.
"The biggest thing is our offensive line has become more aggressive as they figure out more of what they are doing," Miller said. "Without them playing like they have I wouldn't be doing half of the things I'm doing now. Those guys are opening the holes for me and are a big part of my success."
Offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield and running backs coach Chris Foster have made it a point to work with Miller and encourage him to be patient once he has the ball in his hands which will ultimately help him make the correct reads.
He's been improving in that regard and as far he's concerned the coaches should not have to remind him of those facts. Miller says he knows what he should be doing and he's working hard to continue improving in every way that he can.
"Coach Foster is always on me about being more patient and running with authority," he said. "But other than that I don't talk to him about it. He coaches me up, but I know what I have to do and I watch film, realize the mistakes I made and improve from there."
Miller and the ASU running game will have to be at its best on Saturday, as Chattanooga enters the game with the third ranked rush defense in the SoCon and the 29th nationally, allowing just 106 yards per game.
The Mountaineers may have Rod Chisholm back in the lineup, however, he will be playing with a club on his hand, making it very difficult for him to be much of an impact guy. Chisholm has been at practice dressed in shorts and a helmet, but has spent most of his work conditioning on the sidelines.