ANNAPOLIS — Navy's Trey Miller invested plenty of time this spring improving his footwork and reading defenses, standard areas of emphasis for a quarterback.
He also concentrated on finding his voice, or at least making it a bit louder.
"Coaches told me I'm doing a better job of talking a little bit more, but I still need to be a little more vocal ... ," Miller said last week. "I'm a quiet guy. I think I talk a little, but obviously it's not [as much]. I just need to work on being more of a voice."
It is a significant point of emphasis considering that barring injury, Miller will start when the Midshipmen open the season Sept. 1 against Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland.
While spring games hardly are reliable barometers, Miller offered a glimpse Saturday of what he will provide Navy as he takes over for graduating starter Kriss Proctor. Miller was 7 of 9 for 104 yards passing while rushing for two touchdowns in Saturday's scrimmage.
Miller already proved himself throughout the previous four weeks, and it was telling when coach Ken Niumatalolo needed only three practices late last month to give Miller a noncontact jersey.
The junior is the only quarterback on the roster with game experience after Jarvis Cummings' move to linebacker, and he made his first (and, to date, only) career start in October against Notre Dame. He still must make plenty of progress, a reality both he and coaches acknowledge.
"The good thing about it is he understands what he has to work on," offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper said. "He's very hard on himself, and all spring long he was on himself big-time. That's a good thing. He knows he's not there yet."
Saturday was one of his better days. While Miller will provide the Mids with a greater threat in the passing game than Proctor, he still is picking up nuances of the program's triple-option offense.
Playing against a team of mostly reserves Saturday, Miller frequently made good reads while leading his team to a pair of touchdown drives in six possessions.
"He hasn't been perfect, but I've been pleased with Trey," Niumatalolo said. "He has his good days and his bad days, but he's trying his best. I'm really encouraged by him."
Miller has reason to be upbeat as well. He received plenty of practice work as Proctor's backup throughout last season, but a spring as the unquestioned started provided ample opportunity to improve while working closely with Jasper.
"It just gave me a chance to get reps and actually be out there on the field playing," Miller said. "I got a chance to watch a lot of film, and I'll continue to do that to get better for the first game."
After a three-week military cruise, Miller anticipates he will spend nearly all summer at the academy taking classes and preparing for next season.
That, of course, will including making sure he is heard when camp begins in more than three months.
"He's a quiet kid, but at the same time, being the quarterback of a football team you have to have some kind of voice," Jasper said. "He's not the team captain or anything like that, but everything starts with you. You're the quarterback. I want him to have a constant voice out there."
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Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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