Dec. 1, 2013
By: Brian Rice
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Defensive linemen at the University of Tennessee have long been measured by how they stack up to some of the greats in Vol history. Corey Miller's final night in orange and white will be remembered along some of those great players and great performances.
On Tennessee's final defensive play of the night, Miller broke Reggie White's single-game sack record, finishing the night with 4.5 sacks after pulling down Maxwell Smith just shy of his end zone to end the game with a sack-fumble, the final exclamation point in the Vols victory.
"To be able to break an individual's record like Reggie White, that's something very, very, very special," head coach Butch Jones said. "A mentality to get the the quarterback, that 63 mentality that we talk about. There's a lot of sacks that are opportunity sacks, the other defensive end doing his job, and forcing the quarterback to push the pocket. I thought it was a great team effort up front."
Miller was excited about the record, but it wasn't something he set out to do in the game. He didn't know it was close going into the final drive. In fact, he didn't know at all until he walked into the locker room to the congratulations of his teammates.
"I'm speechless about it," Miller said about the record, adding that breaking a mark set by someone like White, whose number 92 stands retired above the field at Neyland Stadium made it even more special. "You never think that something like that to happen, especially in the last game of your career. I went back to some of the guys that were able to help me like A.J. (Johnson) with the pass rush that helped free me up."
Not only did the play give Miller the record, it effectively ended the game. Miller hit Smith high, forcing a fumble that was recovered by fellow senior John Probst at the UK 3-yard line. A pair of kneel downs later, the Volunteers had their first road win since 2010. Miller credited Johnson with creating the play.
"The was A.J'.s play," Miller said. "We called a certain play where he comes down and picks the center and I just had to step to the left and wrap up. I shook his hand after the play."
Johnson said the impact Miller made lifted the whole defense.
"He was just making plays, getting to the quarterback. That helped our defense tremendously," Johnson said. "Sacks change the whole game. I'm just so happy for him to go out in his final game and breaking Reggie White's record."
The record on the final play of his career was special, but it didn't ease the emotion that he felt walking off the field for the final time as a Volunteer.
"The sack record didn't change it a bit," he said of his emotions after the clock ran out. "The only thing that was on my mind was that I was sad that my career at Tennessee was over. I had maybe a two-second cry, but Marlon Walls pulled me aside and I was able to enjoy the rest of the time with my guys."