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Friday, August 9, 2013

Chris Muller: 'I was a terrible pass blocker' arriving at Rutgers

Chris Muller knew little of zone-blocking schemes and pass-blocking techniques growing up in Boyertown, Pa. Now? He's a starting right guard in a pro-style offense. (Tyler Barto)

By Tyler Barto
Twitter: Tyler_Barto

Ten plays dotted Chris Muller's playbook at Boyertown (Pa.) High School. He is now being tasked with understanding his second offensive scheme in as many years, adjusting to zone blocking and doing so as a starting right guard.

"It was pretty much all run," Muller said Wednesday during Rutgers' first two-a-day. "We didn't have a strong throwing game. We were a bunch of country kids that just knew how to put your feet in the ground and drive."

Boyertown's run-centric Wing-T offense made Muller a liability in pass protection in 2012. Offensive line coach Damian Wroblewski has improvised, offering new techniques that will protect Muller inside.

Head coach Kyle Flood said at the American media day he's taught three blocking principles — man, gap and zone — since arriving at Rutgers in 2005. Coordinator Ron Prince has focused on zone blocking, his first installation of training camp.

Muller was only asked to block down on opposing linemen or pull before arriving in Piscataway. He'll now be responsible for regularly reaching the second level of defense.

"I'm still developing every day," said Muller, a redshirt freshman. "I'm nowhere near where I need to be. I'm going to keep progressing every day, but I'm really starting to understand."

Rutgers is banking on Muller's ascent.

Incumbent Antwan Lowery, whom Muller unseated in spring practice, is out for the near future with a lower-body injury. Weight issues and inconsistency have plagued him. When he returns, Muller's development could be too far along to replace.

Lowery's absence has threatened Rutgers' depth. True freshman Dorian Miller has stepped in.

"He's young, but he's very athletic and very strong," Muller said. "He has weight under his feet. Once he gets the plays down, he'll have a lot of opportunity."

Muller credits Betim Bujari and Kaleb Johnson for help in valuing mental reps. He said he's improved his intake, keeping his body weight down. Whatever the case, Muller knows this isn't Boyertown anymore.

"We ran sweep probably 30 times a game," he said.

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