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Tigers shift focus to kickers
Tiger kicker David Miller sends one flying in last season's game against the Beach High Bulldogs. Miller, a sophomore, is expected to lead the Tigers as the lone starting kicker and punter this year. - photo by By Patty Leon / Coastal Courier
While most of the attention is focused on skill positions like the quarterback, wide receivers and running backs the Tigers are shifting their focus on special teams, namely their kickers, or lack thereof.
Place kicker David Miller returns after starting on varsity last season as a freshman. This year the sophomore also is expected to punt.
"We have Miller as the main punter but we are looking at other people that can come in if anything does happen. Someone who can go in and muscle the ball if need be," Tiger kicking coach Greg Cooke said. "He's never punted before, this is his first year and Statesboro and the early games will be a good test before the region games."
Cooke said you can't tell how well a kicker will perform until he’s in a game but says he expects Miller will do fine.
"It's like a quarterback," he said. "You just can't tell until you are in a live game how they will handle the ball and pressure. We have some time to work out the kinks, but he will be fine."
Cooke said Miller did everything he needed to do over the off-season and increased his strength tremendously by hitting the weights.
"Punting-wise it's 100 times better than last year," he said describing Millers' practice punt improvements over the summer. "Distance, height and being calm while waiting for the snap, it's all improved. He has the ability and concentration and he is a lot stronger. He started last season due to his accuracy so that wasn't the problem as much as strength was but this year he came out stronger. We have the ability we just have to go out live."
But knowing there is always a plan B Cooke said they are looking for someone to back Miller up, especially in the punting.
"We have some athletes that can step in and do what Magaw did last year, which was put the ball exactly where we want and get it off in the clutch and tight spots," he said about last year's quarterback and punter Josh Magaw. "It may not be pretty but that is what we are working with."
Cooke said the future looks bright for Tiger kickers as they are developing a few freshmen whose kicking abilities he described as promising.
Miller is accustomed to placekicking as he started along side senior kicker Joey Lliso last season.
Lliso joined the United Sates Army Military Academy football team as a walk on place-kicker this season at West Point. Miller will carry the Tigers in his place.
"He can go out to the 30-yardlinbe and hit them," Cooke said. "He has leg strength and accuracy when it comes to kicking.
The coach is set to groom his own kicker as he and his wife Molly welcomed their baby boy, Benjamin Edwin Cooke, to their family. He was born on July 12 weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

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