The Bucs newest star might not even be a player; it might just be a coach. Keith Millard, who’s quickly becoming known for his rapid-fire takes and quote-ability around the Bay area sat down for an interview Thursday with the Ron and Ian Show on WDAE-AM 620, The Sports Animal. Millard who’s a very engaging, high octane, fiery type has players gravitating towards him in a similar fashion reminiscent of receivers coach Eric Yarber and QB coach Alex Van Pelt, from last season.
When the duo helped instill confidence, bravado and swagger into their respective units – as they were able to squeeze maximum results from inexperienced players.
Millard, unlike the dynamic duo from 2010, who many were unsure of, burst on the scene with flair and charisma. It doesn’t stop there – with an impressive resume to boot, the former All-Pro man-beast of a defensive tackle, holds the single season sack record for defensive tackles with 18, in 1989. He finished his pro career with 58 sacks.
As a coach he helped turn around the pass rushing fortunes of both the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders. The average number of sacks the Broncos defensive linemen collectively captured per season under the tutelage of Millard was 25. During his stint as the Raiders defensive line coach the Raiders defensive linemen collectively averaged 28 sacks per season.
Helping Millard convey his message to the youngry foot soldiers at his disposal is the fact he’s helped guide such stars as Warren Sapp, who from the age of 33-35 had 17 sacks. Derrick Burgess, had his best three year span under Millard’s guidance with 36 sacks. Bertrand Berry, a castoff from the Colts increased his sack numbers by nearly 5 sacks per season with Millard teachings and finished with 21 sacks over his three-year stint with the Broncos. Chris Clemons, who had never had more then 3 sacks in any season prior to working with Millard, in his only season with the Raiders, finished that season with 8 sacks.
Now Millard’s got the task of taking, a bunch of raw talented highly regarded prospects and molding them into a well oiled machine and after one week of training camp the waxing poetic defensive line coach who very seldom minces words embarked on a journey that had him seeing a monumental star of yesteryear. When asked what he thought of rookie Da’Quan Bowers?
“Oh, man. He’s a brute. You remember Reggie [White]. That’s what I think of when I think of him. Big strong 285-pound guy…Unbelievable explosion out of his stance,” Millard told WDAE 620. “When he gets in his stance we call him hidden dragon crouching tiger. I mean he is down there low. Just got to clean up his technique and his lines a little bit, how he’s gettin’ off and staying on his lines. You know, getting him to use a little more footwork.”
That’s high praise comparing Bowers to the legend of Reggie White. But Millard should know having marveled at White from a birds eye view – playing against teams White was a part of 7-times throughout his career.
Millard the original Tampa 2 defensive tackle – the standard for which players such as John Randle and Sapp our linked too and become known best for their pass rushing abilities often infer that Millard was the originator and the blueprint for which others often emulated.
A workaholic and tactician in teaching the art of pass rushing Millard’s focus is now on resurrecting a once feared and dominant pass rush in Tampa. Before arming Bowers with proper fundamentals and technique to counter would be blockers. His first priority has been making sure Bowers is healthy and available for the season.
“He likes to go right down the middle of people. He likes to blow people up. You gotta’ have a little bit of changeup in there. You know what I’m talking about Ian. But he’s coming along great. We’re trying to get him healthy at the same time, you know, so we’re a little bit slower on bringing him along as far as the technique and things of that nature. We’re making sure he’s assignment sound. But we don’t want to push him too much and not be able to have him for the season. We want him for the season.”