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Miller shows why coaches like him

A star was born at Cougar Stadium on Saturday. And not a moment too soon.

BYU coaches have said true-freshman quarterback Drew Miller is something special, and in the Cougars' 31-10 win over TCU, he showed why.Miller led BYU on four impressive touchdown drives in the second half, after a touchdown-less first half. By intermission, mired in a 3-3 deadlock with the Horned Frogs, BYU had scored only one TD in the previous eight quarters.

In relief of starter Paul Shoemaker, Miller completed 16 of 26 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns. Miller believes the offense has finally turned the corner.

"This is a boost to our confidence," he said. "Now we know what we're capable of, that we can put points on the board and put points up quick.

"We came together as a team," he added. "The offense was congratulating the defense, and the defense was congratulating the offense. That's what it's all about."

Coach LaVell Edwards isn't surprised by what he sees out of the 6-foot-1, Lakewood, Wash., native. "I've said all along it is just a matter of time for Drew," said Edwards. "He has a very good presence out there. He's a take-charge guy. Players respond to him."

By the way, in case you were wondering, "There's no change in the quarterback situation," Edwards stated. "We still need both of them (Shoemaker and Miller)."

Shoemaker suffered a slight tear of his MCL as well as an ankle sprain against TCU and is questionable for next Saturday's game at UTEP.

Miller's not fretting about who will receive the starting nod in El Paso. "I'm going to work hard and let coaches decide," he said. Backing up Shoemaker and Miller is walk-on Shane Barlow, a freshman from Golden, Colo., who wasn't even around for fall camp. Barlow took the snaps in BYU's final two possessions against TCU.

To put Miller's dazzling performance in perspective, only three true freshmen have thrown a touchdown pass for BYU in the past 20 years: Jim McMahon in 1977, Kevin Feterik in 1996 (in mop-up duty) and now Miller. Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer did not play as a true freshman.

"I'd be really impressed if a freshman came in and started at quarterback," former BYU quarterback Steve Young once said. "It takes at least two years to be really comfortable with the offense. You could play before that, but you'd be in a cloud."

Right now, Miller, who up until a couple of weeks ago was redshirting, is on cloud nine.

SENIORITY: BYU's young gun had plenty of help from a trio of veterans on Saturday.

In the second half, BYU turned almost exclusively to three senior starters - running backs Brian McKenzie and Dustin Johnson and receiver Ben Cahoon. In a three-drive, three-TD third quarter, each made clutch plays.

Drive 1: A 17-yard Cahoon catch was followed by a 36-yard jaunt by Johnson to the TCU 2. From there, McKenzie skirted into the end zone.

Drive 2: A 25-yard catch by Cahoon on third down and three moved BYU to the TCU 21.

Drive 3: Cahoon came up with a 41-yard grab on third-and-25. Later, McKenzie carried for seven yards on third-and-four.

"It's good to be able to mix up the run and the pass and get productivity out of it," Edwards said.

INJURY UPDATE: Offensive left tackle John Tait missed much of the TCU game with a hamstring pull and is questionable for next week. Redshirt freshman Ben Archibald replaced Tait in the lineup.

BEAR-HUNTING: Edwards chalked up career win No. 233 last weekend, passing legendary Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant for career victories at one school. To catch the Bear in all-time victories, Edwards, who stands at No. 9 overall, would need 90 more wins. Beating UTEP would move him into an eighth-place tie with former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler at 234.

QUOTABLE: Edwards, when asked about how much "creative license" is afforded freshman return specialist Jaron Dabney, who is known for his no-fear approach to fielding punts: "Not as much as he takes."