Scouting Miami (OH) Defense and Special Teams

Miami University in Ohio (not Miami of Ohio, I was admonished by an alumnus) had a very difficult season last year, allowing 34.2 points per game. While the total offense of their opponents (377 yards/game) is not all that bad, giving up almost six yards per play certainly qualifies.

They only held one opponent under 24 points all year and dropped their first two games last year to Kentucky and Boise State and lost by a combined score of 90-0.

*************************************************************

The biggest issue for the RedHawks on defense is the inability to stop the run. Last year opponents averaged 187 yards on the ground and almost five yards a carry. Miami opponents ran for 30 TDs in just 12 games.

The defensive front is not all that strong as those numbers clearly suggest with DT Austin Brown the best of the bunch. Not only do they struggle to stop the run, the RedHawks managed just 14 QB sacks all year and forced only a dozen turnovers.

The best player on the defense, and the only one on the team with more than two sacks last year, is MLB Jerrel Wedge. He likes to shoot gaps on running plays in addition to rushing the passer. Wedge ended up with 18.5 tackles for loss last season while the next best total on the team was five. Evan Harris, who had 61 tackles, last year is the next best LB.

The secondary returns for Miami but the lack of foot speed is a glaring problem. They do make a lot of tackles back there, but that's as much an indictment of the front seven as an accomplishment for the back row. Miami intercepted just six passes a year ago while surrendering 21 TD throws. Senior Brandon Stephens is probably the best returning cover guy sine he's the only one on the team with more than one pick last year (2). But they may decide to play younger guys who have better speed in freshman Dayonne Nunley and sophomore D.J. Brown. Safeties Anthony Kokal and Jordan Gafford are solid tacklers --- in part because they get a lot of chances but they are easy to go over the top on.

All in all this is a weak defense in terms of what the Florida Gators are going to see down the line. What's important for the Gators is that they execute at a high level and involve a variety of weapons.

*************************************************************

As for special teams, they have a new punter, but place kicker Trevor Cook returns. He was 7-of-12 last year including a 55-yarder but had two blocked. Overall, the RedHawks blocked two kicks, but they had seven blocked.

The return game has not been a strength. Miami only had one punt return more than 20 yards last year and the longest kickoff return went for 30. Look for newcomers to try and take those assignments, though I wonder if the punt returner will get a chance. They did a pretty decent job on coverage, allowing 11.4 on punts returns and 22.1 on kick offs, however Miami did give up a return for TD in both areas.

*************************************************************

Most publications and websites that rank such things have the RedHawks in the bottom 10 of all major college football programs. I can't argue with that assessment. The one thing they do well is throw the football around, and if Florida is too slow with the pass rush and too soft on coverage, the RedHawks could well have some success in that area. Otherwise this is an extended scrimmage with lots of witnesses. It gives Florida a chance to work on some of the shortcomings that hurt the team last year, notably failure in the red zone. They Gators also need to show their willingness to utilize as many weapons as possible to eliminate the predictability of the attack, particularly in short yardage situations.


Fightin Gators Top Stories