Get to Know an Opponent: Miami (OH)

The Bulls take on the RedHawks in Oxford Saturday

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Following an impressive 38-22 victory over Temple, the Bulls will travel to Yager Stadium in Oxford, OH to take on Miami University Saturday.

In their final non-conference game, the RedHawks were pummeled by No. 5 Ohio State, 76-5. Miami (OH) enters conference play with a 1-3 record, after dropping contests to No. 14 Iowa, Cincinnati and No. 5 Ohio State.

The 2019 Mid-American Conference Football Media Preseason Poll projected the RedHawks to finish second in the East Division, so they are a capable opponent for the Bulls. Over the first four weeks of the season, the Bulls have shown flashes of brilliance and signs of concern.

Buffalo is 2-2 entering MAC play following wins over Robert Morris and Temple and losses to Penn State and Liberty. The Bulls will have to figure things out — especially under center, where redshirt freshman Matt Myers has been particularly inconsistent.

“We’re our biggest competition,” said safety Joey Banks, who had a pick-six and six tackles in a surprising victory over Temple last week. “I keep saying it: If we can get as close to perfect as we can, we should win every single game.”

Here’s what to expect when the Bulls take on the RedHawks on ESPNU:

COACH: Chuck Martin, 23-42, sixth season at Miami

LOOKING BACK

The 2018 RedHawks found themselves in the same predicament as the 2017 Bulls: bowl eligible, without a bowl invite. The RedHawks went 6-6, with all their wins coming against conference foes. In an October game against Buffalo, they came back from a 14-point third-quarter deficit, before falling late in regulation.

Quarterback Gus Ragland was named third-team All-MAC after completing 60.9% of his passes for 2,547 yards and 17 touchdowns. He had a career-high three rushing touchdowns against Buffalo, where he nearly orchestrated an improbable comeback. He found an unlikely spark with Kenny Young, who posted 367 rushing yards and 384 receiving yards on the season.

The RedHawks recorded 28.1 points per game in 2018, ranking No. 75 in Division I-A. They had trouble on the ground, where running back Alonzo Smith led the team with 746 yards on 141 carries. On a positive note, Danny Godlevske and Jordan Rigg were both named third-team All-MAC in recognition of their strong play on the offensive line.

On the other side of the ball, linebacker Brad Koenig was named first-team All-MAC after recording 101 tackles, five sacks, three interceptions and four forced fumbles. He was complemented by defensive end Doug Costin, who was named second-team All-MAC after posting 52 tackles and six sacks.

The RedHawks defense allowed 25.5 points per game, ranking No. 53 in Division I-A. In October, they allowed Buffalo quarterback Tyree Jackson to earn six touchdowns — three through the air and three on the ground. Bulls wide receiver Anthony Johnson had a season-high three scores as well. The Bulls won the game, 51-42.


Courtesy of Jugal Jain | The Miami Student

Miami (OH) football team storms the field.


LOOKING FORWARD

The RedHawks’ lone win came against Tennessee Tech in week two. Outside of that, they have struggled to keep any of their games close.

Quarterback Brett Gabbert, brother of Tampa Bay Buccaneers signal-caller Blaine Gabbert, has thrown for just 529 yards and two touchdowns in four games. He is only a freshman, so his struggles were expected. But the RedHawks will need to work to have a chance against Buffalo Saturday afternoon.

The RedHawks have yet to excel at key skill positions. Running backs Tyre Shelton, Maurice Thomas and Davion Johnson have gotten the bulk of the carries, but are all averaging fewer than 4.5 yards per attempt. Leading receivers Jalen Walker and Dominique Robinson have been limited to a combined 219 yards and zero touchdowns.

Heading into the season, the RedHawks had nine players named to the Athlon Sports MAC Football 2019 All-Conference Team, including kicker Sam Sloman, punter Kyle Kramer and return specialist Maurice Thomas. If the RedHawks can capitalize on special teams, they should be able to steal a few points and keep the game interesting.

BOTTOM LINE

Coming off a shocking victory over Temple, the Bulls enter conference play with an opportunity to put some distance between themselves and their MAC foes. But Miami (OH) is a formidable challenger, one that struggled due to an onerous non-conference slate but was still projected to finish second in their division. Expect the Bulls to rely on Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks. Taking advantage of the No. 102-ranked RedHawks run defense will be a key to the Bulls’ success.

Sports desk can be reached at sports@ubspectrum.com.