Isaac Miller was thrust into the spotlight a little too abruptly for the jitters to get the best of him.
There were nerves, of course. Miller admits he always has them to a certain extent. Yet when he took over Colorado's left tackle spot shortly into the Buffaloes' 37-3 win Saturday, the Longmont native turned in his most significant playing time since he was a senior at Silver Creek High School in 2014.
"It's been about four years since I've played in a game, so it was good to get my feet wet a little bit and play again," Miller said. "A lot to work on. I can't get complacent with it. At the end of the day, we got a win. That's what matters. It's a team sport. The scoreboard said 37-3, so I'm happy about that. I will get my part fixed, and everyone else out there will get their part fixed and we'll just keep rolling."
The dozen or so miles between Silver Creek and Folsom Field is contrary to the long and winding road Miller took before making his first appearance on CU's home turf. Miller redshirted as a true freshman two seasons ago and spent last year on the sideline as well due to a knee injury.
Just a few weeks ago Miller was the third player listed on CU's depth chart at left tackle. But with incumbent starter Jeromy Irwin suspended for the first two games, and junior Josh Kaiser struggling in the opener against Colorado State and again early Saturday against Texas State, Miller finally joined the fray.
"I'm going to be nervous regardless. A lot of people say if you're nervous it means you care," Miller said. "Once you get that first play under your belt you just feel better and you just play football. I've been playing this game for a long time, since I was a little kid. It may get a little faster, but it's still just the sport of football."
Head coach Mike MacIntyre lauded Miller's work off the bench on Saturday, but it could prove to be a one-week cameo for the Silver Creek alum. After the game CU's coach said Irwin and George Frazier — two co-captains suspended for a violation of team rules through the first two games — would be reinstated this week ahead of next week's home date against Northern Colorado.
"We found another guy that can play tackle today in Isaac Miller," MacIntyre said. "He played really well, which we've been waiting on him to come on and he's been hurt.
"(Irwin's suspension) disrupted our offense a little bit. And then having George out has disrupted our offense when we play with a tight end. When we get those guys back I think that definitely will help our offense. When you lose a left tackle for a game or two games that is a really good player and he'll be back — him and George will be back this week — so we're excited about having those guys back. I think that will definitely help our offense."