Citadel position report: It's (Aaron) Miller time at quarterback

After sharing time the last three seasons, Aaron Miller will start at quarterback for The Citadel this season. (Russ Pace/The Citadel)

The difference is subtle, but meaningful. In post-practice sprints, it's Aaron Miller who leads the backs and receivers, rep after rep. It's Miller who urges a lineman to step it up. It's Miller who claps a sideline visitor on the back.

It's Miller's turn to lead The Citadel football team as the starting quarterback, and by all accounts the senior from Clover is filling the role quite nicely.

"We had that discussion, where it's finally his time," said offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brent Thompson. "He's been waiting three years for this, and he's the only one now."

For the last three years, the 6-0, 220-pound Miller shared time with Ben Dupree, who finished his career with 2,679 rushing yards, fifth on The Citadel's career list. But Miller's playing time actually diminished last season as the Bulldogs' triple-option offense came to depend more and more on Dupree's ability to make something out of nothing.

Miller carried the ball 84 times as a freshman in 2011 and 81 times as a sophomore, scoring five touchdowns each season. But last year, he ran the ball only 51 times, scoring just once.

"Last year, Aaron came into games in some tough situations," Thompson said. "He's got great game experience, but he's never been the full-time leader of an offense. That's the role he's developing into right now."

Thompson and head coach Mike Houston, who tried to recruit Miller while they were at Lenoir-Rhyne, believe he's a better passer than last year's numbers would indicate. Often throwing in obvious passing situations, Miller hit 52.1 percent of his throws for 407 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

"Aaron throws it extremely well for a triple-option quarterback," Thompson said. "Our passing game has picked up a little, and as we see that he can throw the ball accurately, we can add some things there."

Miller won't be the home-run hitter that the smaller Dupree was, but Thompson said he can keep the chains moving.

"He's a strong runner and we think he's going to grind out some pretty good yards for us," he said.

The real intrigue in fall camp came in the race for backup quarterback, where freshman Dominique Allen emerged as the No. 2 QB. Redshirt freshman Cam Jackson was moved to slotback rather than waste him at third-team QB.

Allen, 6-0 and 220 pounds, played a year in the triple-option offense at the Air Force Academy Prep School, and ran the same offense at Richmond Hill High School near Savannah.

"He's a bit more polished because he's played in the offense, and he's in the mold of an Aaron Miller," Thompson said. He's a big, thick guy and a good runner and operator of the offense. He'll get better and better as the year goes on."

Junior QB Dane Anderson might see action in mop-up situations as Citadel coaches try to preserve a redshirt season for Allen. But if something happens when the game's on the line, expect to see Allen in the fray.

"If possible, we'll redshirt (Allen)," Thompson said. "But with this offense, you probably need two or three quarterbacks at any moment. If we can get through the year and redshirt him, that'd be great. Otherwise, we'll try to win as many games as we can."

Other QBs on the roster include freshman Shon Belton and redshirt freshman QB Boeing Brown, who's been running the scout-team offense.

Previously in this series:

. Offensive line

. Slotbacks

. B-backs

. Wide receivers

Next: Defensive Line