On Saturday (11:00 A.M., FSN), the Miami (OH) Redhawks invade Faurot Field to take on the Missouri Tigers in the season opener for both teams.
Last year's MAC champion, Miami (OH), became the first program in major college football history to go from double digit losses (1-11 in 2009) to double digit wins (10-4 in 2010). First-year head coach Don Treadwell, who comes over from Michigan State after filling in for Mark Dantonio last season, returns 17 starters from last year's Redhawks.
Earlier this week, Coach Pinkel was asked what to expect from Miami (OH)?
"I think there's always question marks," said Coach Pinkel. "I think when you have a new staff, there's huge concerns. Because, we're not sure on either side of the ball, what we're going to see. You know, they had great success a year ago on both sides of the ball, also. They're a very experienced team coming back. They have two QBs that are very, very capable. And, that's probably an understatement. They're very fortunate. Very rarely do you have two QBs, of that experience and caliber, that have won like those guys have, on the same team. So, it's a great position for them to be in. They're playing exceptional defense. They have a lot of great players returning. They're a very, very experienced team, probably a very confident team. A team that last year won a divisional championship, won the MAC championship game, and then won their bowl game. They've got a very good head football coach, in Don Treadwell. It's going to
be a difficult game for us. I've coached in that league. When you get real good teams that come out of that league, they can beat anybody. And, this is one of those type of teams."
Last season, Missouri defeated the Redhawks by the final score of 51-13.
The Tigers jumped out in front early in that contest, after Andrew Gachkar dislodged the football from Miami (OH) WR Armond Robinson on the game's second play, and Carl Gettis scooped it up and ran it in from 19 yards out for the score.
The early advantage widened, as Missouri racked up 129 first quarter rushing yards, including TD runs of 39 yards by Kendial Lawrence and 28 yards by Henry Josey, and enjoyed a 21-0 lead at the end of the first period. The Tigers never looked back.
Missouri had a balanced attack, with 236 yards rushing on 38 carries (6.2 yds./carry), and 233 yards passing, on 17 completions out of 23 pass attempts.
The Missouri defense enjoyed an impressive day, as well, holding Miami (OH) to 2.1 yards per rushing attempt, and causing 3 turnovers, which were huge in this game, as the Tigers enjoyed a 3 to 1 turnover margin against the Redhawks.
Earlier this week, several of Missouri's players and coaches said that in watching Miami (OH) on film, that the Redhawks had really developed into a real good football team later last season, after Missouri had played against them.
Last year, albeit under a different head coach, the Redhawks ran a pro-style offense, and their QB, Zac Dysert 6'4" 212, passed for 2406 yards and 13 TDs, while completing 64.7% of his pass attempts, for a passer efficiency rating of 129.2. In 2010, Dysert missed several games due to injury, and his back-up, Austin Boucher, was similarly efficient as Dysert.
Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel talked about the Redhawk QBs.
"The kid that played against us is Zac Dysert," said Coach Pinkel. "He was second-team all-conference in that league. He really, really played well. Then, he got hurt, and their back-up (Austin Boucher) came in. He's a smaller guy, and more of a scrambling guy, from what we can see on film. He won a couple of games for them. So, you've got two guys there. They say they're starting quarterbacks, a 1-A quarterback, and a 1-B quarterback. That's a very good situation to be in."
The Redhawks return four experienced WRs, in sophomore Nick Harwell 6'1" 187 (64 receptions, 13.6 yards/reception, 6 TDs), fifth-year senior Chris Givens 6'2" 203 (26 receptions, 14.8 yards/reception, 1 TD), red-shirt junior Andy Cruse 6'4" 210 (25 receptions, 13.7 yards/reception, 2 TDs), and junior Luke Swift 6'2" 186 (2 receptions, 6.5 yards/reception), and three experienced TEs, in fifth-year senior Kendrick Bruton 6'4" 251 (10 receptions, 12.9 yards/reception, 1 TD), sophomore Dustin White 6'2" 250 (4 receptions, 7.5 yards/reception), and junior Steve Marck 6'3" 251 (2 receptions. 4.5 yards/reception).
The Redhawks primary ball-carrier appears to be sophomore RB Erik Finklea 6-1 202, who is a converted linebacker, with no career carries. Red-shirt sophomore FB Justin Semmes 6'2" 230 has previously carried the football just once.
Because the Redhawks weren't especially effective in the run game last year, they relied heavily on a short passing game. Dysert got beaten up, because their offensive line couldn't keep people off of him. If Boucher comes in, he does have the mobility to create something on the run. Some have conjectured that Coach Treadwell will want to run the football more effectively this season, but there's really no reason to think Miami (OH) will be better up front offensively, or that they'll be especially effective running the football against Missouri.
All the stars are back on a defensive front that dominated in key stretches last season. Miami(OH) finished 12th in the nation in tackles for loss and 24th in sacks. They won the MAC title because the defensive front came up big. They have size, speed and depth. The Redhawks return their top eight leading tacklers, and their top 4 interceptors, from a year ago, including fifth-year senior LB Jerrell Wedge 5'11" 220 (101 tackles, 15 TFLs), who is their best player, and junior LB Evan Harris 6'0" 221 (94 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 6 INTs). Wedge has 221 career tackles and 44 career TFLs. In addition to Wedge, there are a number of fifth-year seniors who have returned for Miami (OH) from their championship squad of a year ago.
"Looking at Miami (OH), they're really good," said Coach Pinkel. "We're not talking about some average tea. They're really, really good!"
[2010 NCAA Ranking in Brackets]
409.62 [35th]___ Total Offense___ 352.00 [81st]
156.38 [57th]___Rushing Offense__ 98.29 [113th]
28___________TDs Rushing__________ 14
253.23 [33rd]___Passing Offense__ 253.71 [32nd]
127.50 [64th]__ Passing Efficiency__ 130.02 [58th]
17___________TDs Passing__________ 19
29.85 [43rd]____Scoring Offense___ 21.57 [98th]
356.38 [47th]___ Total Defense___ 338.21 [28th]
152.92 [62nd]__ Rushing Defense__ 127.57 [25th]
12________ TDs Allowed Rushing________ 28
203.46 [37th]___Passing Defense__ 210.64 [49th]
108.45 [11th]__ Pass Effic. Defense_ 116.21 [26th]
13________ TDs Allowed Passing________ 14
16.08 [6th]_____Scoring Defense___ 23.21 [44th]
+0.85 [15th]__ Turnover Margin_ +0.79 [T-17th]
20 / 8_ ______ Fumbles/Lost_______ 17 / 9
10________ Interceptions Thrown________ 15
18________ Interceptions Gained________ 21
21.09 [78th]___Kickoff Return Avg.__ 20.54 [87th]
6.08 [91st]____ Punt Return Avg.____7.39 [68th]
39.06 [14th]___ Net Punting Avg.___34.51 [92nd]
2.85 [9th]_______Sacks By______2.50 [24th]
1.69 [46th]_____ Sacks Allowed____ 2.50 [T-91st]
29:12 [77th]___ Avg. Time of Poss.____33:00 [5th]
38.5% [72nd]___3rd Down Conv.__ 36.1% [90th]
50.0% [T-63rd]__4th Down Conv.__25.0% [115th]