Head-to-head: Army vs. Miami (Ohio)

The Army Black Knights travel to Ohio to take on the Miami RedHawks on Saturday at 1 p.m. EST. Army enters the contest coming off its largest margin of victory over a Division I/FBS opponent since 1995 after defeating Tulane, 45-6. The Miami RedHawks, last year's MAC champions, enter the game with a very disappointing 0-4 record under new coach Don Treadwell.

Last week the RedHawks were shutout by Cincinnati, 27-0. This season Army has lost its two games on the road against MAC teams by a combined score of 97-47.

Miami (Ohio)
Army rushing offense
Miami (Ohio) rushing defense
Army, averaging over 368 yards rushing per game, enters this game ranked second in the nation in rushing. Last week against Tulane, the Black Knights rushed for 353 yards, averaged 5.7 yards per carry and scored five rushing touchdowns. For the third consecutive week A-back Raymond Maples set a personal single game high record for rushing yards. Maples ran 15 times for 141 yards and scored a touchdown. Over the past three weeks Maples is running to daylight, demonstrating good acceleration in the hole and is now finishing his runs to break tackles and pick up extra yards. He now looks like the exceptional running back that ArmySports.com predicted he would be. Quarterback Trent Steelman (437 rushing yards, 5.1 avg. 9 TDs) scored two touchdowns last week. Trent did an excellent job reading the defense and distributing the ball against Tulane.

B-Back Jared Hassin (246 yards, 4.6 avg. 0 TDs) is playing with a bad back. Plebe B-back Larry Dixon had six carries and ran for 30 yards and scored his first career touchdown against Tulane. C-back Malcolm Brown (303 yards, 8.7 avg. 1 TD) made a nice grab on a wayward pitch well behind him to avoid a turnover on what ended up being a touchdown drive last week. Plebe Terrence Baggett after his debut at Ball State earned the start last week at C-back. Baggett rushed four times for just five yards. He dropped a perfect pitch from Steelman that guard Frank Allen alertly recovered.

Miami is currently ranked 80th in the nation in run defense allowing 168 yards per game. It's best player up front is junior defensive tackle Austin Brown, who finished with 53 tackles, three sacks and seven tackles for loss, last season. At linebacker the RedHawks have Ryan Kennedy (18 tackles.). Kennedy made six tackles, recorded a sack and picked off a pass last week against Cincinnati. After missing the Missouri opener because of an injury, Kennedy has played very well.  
Army passing offense
Miami (Ohio) passing defense
After struggling all season with his passing accuracy, Steelman completed all three of his passes for 70 yards and a touchdown against Tulane. When Tulane opened the second half selling out on run support, Trent used a nice play action fake to throw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Davyd Brooks for his first touchdown pass of 2011. Steelman completed his last pass, a short throw off a waggle action roll-out to backup B-back Larry Dixon. For the season Steelman has completed 39.3% of his passes with a touchdown against two interceptions. Sophomore Jared McFarlin, who has caught six passes for 60 yards and a touchdown this season, is expected to return this week after sitting out last week with a concussion. Austin Barr was back in the starting lineup for the first time last week in place of Anthony Stevens.

Miami (Ohio) has two outstanding cornerbacks in sophomore Dayonne Nunley and junior D.J. Brown. The most talented defensive back is Nunley who has eight career interceptions in only 18 games. He picked off his second pass of the season against Cincinnati. Miami (Ohio) also has one of the top safety duos in the MAC conference with senior Anthony Kokal (26 tackles) and junior Pat Hinkel (24 tackles). Junior defensive end Jason Semmes (6-3, 247) is Miami's best pass rusher. He recorded six sacks last year and has posted two this season. Jason's younger brother Justin Semmes, a backup fullback for the RedHawks, was heavily recruited by Stan Brock's Army staff before signing with Miami (Ohio).
Miami (Ohio) rushing offense
Army rushing defense
Miami (Ohio) wasn't a rushing powerhouse last year when they won ten games. Without their best offensive lineman, right tackle Matt Kennedy, they are currently ranked dead last (120th) in nation in rushing. As a team they have run for just 196 yards, averaged only 1.6 yards a carry and scored four rushing touchdowns. Their leading running back is Erik Finklea who's rushed 55 times for 168 yards, averaging 3.1 yards per carry and scored one touchdown. Neither of Miami's quarterbacks are very mobile or pose a real threat to run.

Army changed its defensive lineup last week up with A.J. Mackey lining up more over the guard instead of playing nose tackle and covering both A gaps. Andrew Rodriguez moved from whip linebacker to quick end. Zach Watts flipped from quick end to defensive end on the other side and replaced his brother. Nate Combs started at whip linebacker. Plebe Geoffrey Bacon didn't start but saw his first extensive playing time at linebacker leading the Black Knights in tackles with nine. Bacon demonstrated the speed and ability to read and react quickly that made him the defensive MVP at USMAPS last year. Rover co-captain Steve Erzinger leads the team with 56 tackles and two sacks.
Miami (Ohio) passing offense
Army passing defense
Miami junior quarterback Zac Dysert has started all four games completing 97 of 159 passing attempts (61%) for 1,036 yards. Dysert has thrown two touchdowns but has been picked off five times. Last year Dysert (2,406 passing yards, 64.7% pct., 13 TDs, 12 INTs) started the first ten games of the season before suffering a season ending injury. His backup at quarterback is sophomore Austin Boucher. Boucher (1,120 passing yards, 63.5% pct., 6 TDs, 3 INTs in 2010) led Miami to four straight wins, including the MAC Championship Game against Northern Illinois and the win over Middle Tennessee in the bowl game last year after replacing the injured Dysert. Boucher saw his first action this season last week and completed both his passes against Cincinnati If Dysert continues to struggle I wouldn't be surprised to see Treadwell turn to Boucher. Miami runs a three receiver, one back offense with a tight end. Their best receiver is sophomore Nick Harwell, who caught 64 passes for 871 yards and six touchdowns in 2010. This year Harwell leads the RedHawks with 26 catches for 450 yards while averaging 17.3 yards per catch. Senior Chris Givens has made 16 catches for 185 yards and has scored a touchdown. Miami's offensive line has struggled to protect the quarterback this year allowing 15 sacks for a loss of 71 yards. They've really missed their best offensive lineman right tackle Matt Kennedy the last three games. Kennedy has been out with an injured left foot. Last week against Cincinnati, Miami (Ohio) gave up four sacks and was 3-of-17 on third downs conversions. Dysert threw two interceptions and was sacked six times the week before against Bowling Green.

After the disaster against Ball State, the Army staff made changes to the Double Eagle flex defense to adapt it to some of its player. The Black Knights played a lot of cover 4 during the game which is the "nickel defense" with five defensive backs. They still used the flex, stunts and twists up front but they had AJ Mackey line up more over the guard. Army's flex front overwhelmed Tulane recording 5 sacks for a loss of 35 yards. Plebe Colin Linkul who hadn't played since being injured in the opener posted two key sacks. Linkul is a direct admit with a tremendous upside. Kyler Martin (3 tackles, 1 sack) showed why he's a hurdler on the track team when he leaped over a blocker to sack Griffin. Clayton Keller and Jacob Drozd both recorded their first sacks of their Army careers. Boundary cornerback Josh Jackson (3 tackles, 1 int.)was terrific in coverage and returned an interception 36 yards setting up an easy Army touchdown. Miami (Ohio) has the worse running attack in the nation and struggles to protect the passer so expect the same defensive look from Army.
Special Teams
Miami (Ohio) special teams have been a mess. Kicker Mason Krysinski is just 4 of 6 on extra points and 2 of 4 on field goal attempts. The RedHawks had punts blocked against Minnesota and Bowling Green. Last week punter Zac Murphy and safety Anthony Kokal split the duties. They punted 11 times for only a 33.1 yard average. To make matter worse a center snap sailed over Kokal's head and was returned by Cincinnati for a touchdown. Nick Harwell has averaged only four yards per punt return. Dayonne Nunley is a threat on kickoff returns averaging 26.4 per return including a 72 yard return this year. Miami's coverage teams have had trouble covering kicks as they have allowed 11.8 per punt return.

Army's kicking game had its best game last week. Army finally made a field goal as Alex Carlton hit one from 23 yards. Chris Boldt boomed a 64-yard punt and averaged 55 yards on his two attempts. Josh Jackson had no room on his three punt returns last week. He is currently averaging only 3.3 yards per return. Scott Williams (21.6 yards per KR) has done a nice job since assuming the kick return duties. Army's coverage teams have been outstanding this season.
This is Don Treadwell's first head coaching job. He holds the job once held by coaching greats like Woody Hayes, Sid Gillman, Bo Schembechler and Ara Parseghian.

Teadwell was offensive coordinator at Michigan State and Cincinnati much of the last decade. So far this season his team has struggled in almost every phase. Under Treadwell, the RedHawks honestly do not appear to be a very well prepared team after the first month of the season. Miami has better talent than they shown but have been plagued by poor special teams play, too many penalties and have been unable to run block or protect the quarterback well.

Rich Ellerson and his staff did a terrific job making changes, moving players and promoting freshmen after the miserable showing against Ball State. The Cover 4 scheme especially helped field cornerback Lamar Johnson Harris, who has struggled this year, underneath and in the flats. Ian Shields rushing offense keeps rolling along and was finally able to get the passing game to click. Talented plebes like Colin Linkul, Geoffrey Bacon, and Jacob Drozd continue to get the opportunity to play on Saturday if they produce on the practice field. Before Rich Ellerson became head coach that was rarely the case at West Point.
The RedHawks played well against Missouri and Minnesota in the first two weeks. Since then they have lost its two home games. They were shutout by Cincinnati last week. This team has some talent. They won 10 games and the MAC championship last year. They are desperate for a victory. Miami has one of the best but somewhat unrecognized football histories in the nation. Miami (Ohio) all time Division I record is 661-339 and they rank 24th all-time in college wins. Army's young defense hasn't traveled well. Against their two previous MAC opponents they have allowed a whopping average of over 48 points per game.

PREDICTION: Army, 38-17. There are a few reasons Miami of Ohio enters this game as a 2 ½ point favorite. They do have some talent and the young Black Knights defense has been lit up by two other MAC quarterbacks. In looking at the film, Miami doesn't appear to be well coached. Defensive coordinators Chris Smeland and Payam Saadat have historically had great success attacking against teams that struggle protecting the quarterback like last week against Tulane. Army should be able to run all day on Miami and new double eagle flex Cover 4 look seems made to order against a team with no running game that can't pass protect.

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