Miami of Ohio Football Predictions
Miami of Ohio took a big step back last season. After winning the MAC Championship in 2010, the Redhawks would stumble to a 4-8 finish in ’11. They went 3-5 in conference play, and lost their final three games of the season by a combined 13 points against some quality competition. It clearly wasn’t a great debut for first-year head coach Don Treadwell.
However, Treadwell and the Redhawks will have a chance to redeem themselves in 2012 as they are one of the most experienced teams in the conference. Miami has 16 starters and 49 lettermen returning this year. Here is a preview of their offense and defense, as well as my prediction on where they finish in the MAC East division.
Miami averaged 21.3 points and 373 total yards per game last season. They didn’t capitalize on their respectable yardage total due to being -4 in turnover differential on the season, a year after going +11 in that department in 2010. With nine returning starters on offense, this has a chance to be one of the best units in the MAC.
Senior QB Zac Dysert returns after completing 65.8 percent of his passes for 3,513 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season. Dysert only needs 2,329 yards to break Ben Roethlisberger’s school record for passing yards in a career. He’ll surely accomplish that feat provided he stays healthy.
The Redhawks averaged a measly 74 rushing yards per game and 2.4/carry last year. Their top two rushers were Erik Finklea (328 yards, 3.6/carry, four TD) and Justin Semmes (170, 4.1/carry, two TD). Semmes was only able to play in two games due to injury, but he returns healthy this season and is expected to be their featured back. Finklea returns as well.
The receiving corps welcomes back first-team All-MAC WR Nick Harwell (97 receptions, 1,425 yards, nine TD), who is arguably the top guy at his position in the entire conference. The Redhawks do lose Chris Givens (60, 695, five TD), but they bring back sophomore WR Dawan Scott (20, 424, two TD) and senior WR Andy Cruse (43, 391, four TD). This will be one of the MAC’s best units.
Miami was #119 in the FBS in sacks allowed (47) in 2011. With four starters and 88 career starts returning along the offensive line, this unit will be much improved. However, they lose their best lineman in second-team All-MAC RG Brandon Brooks, who was taken in the third round by the Houston Texans. Senior C Joseph Williams, sophomore LG Marcus Matthews, sophomore RT Zach Lewis and senior LT Brad Bednar all resume their starting roles.
The defense played too well last season for the team to finish with only four wins. The Redhawks gave up 22.9 points and 364 total yards per game in 2011. With seven returning starters on this side of the ball, Miami could come close to matching last year’s numbers. They lose their top three tacklers, though.
Miami has a good opportunity to post their best numbers against the run since 2004 with a veteran defensive line that returns three starters. They are senior DE Jason Semmes (42 tackles, 5 for loss, 4.5 sacks), senior DT Austin Brown (33 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 3 sacks) and senior DT Mike Johns (23 tackles, 6.5 for loss). Junior DE Wes Williams is also back after taking a medical redshirt last year due to injury.
The linebacker corps is the biggest concern with the loss of its #2 and #3 tacklers in Jemell Wedge (84 tackles, 4 for loss) and Ryan Kennedy (75 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 3 sacks). Senior Pat Hinkel (70 tackles, one INT) moves from SS to SLB to help fill one of the voids. Also back is senior MLB Evan Harris (40 tackles, 3 for loss) and senior WLB Jaytee Swanson (30 tackles, 4 for loss, one INT).
The Redhawks were excellent against the pass last season as they allowed 58.1 percent completions and 195 passing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks. With six of their top eight back in the secondary, this unit should be able to match last year’s impressive numbers. They lose their top tackler in SS Anthony Kokal (91 tackles, 5 for loss, one INT), but first-team All-MAC CB Dayonne Nunley (58 tackles, 8 for loss, 13 pass break-ups, three INT) and senior CB DJ Brown (30 tackles, four pass break-ups) return to lead the secondary.
MAC East Prediction – 2nd Place
The Redhawks are certainly a sleeper to win the MAC East this season. They could easily wind up having a chance to capture their second conference title in three years at season’s end. Treadwell returns one of the most talented and experienced rosters in the MAC. The schedule sets up very well also considering Miami avoids three of the best teams in the West in Western Michigan, Northern Illinois and Toledo. The Redhawks also get Ohio at home, which is my pick to win the East.
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- Bettors World sees Miami of Ohio as having a letdown this season.