Get to know an opponent: Miami (OH)
The Bulls take on the defending MAC champs in Buffalo Tuesday night
Following a comfortable 49-30 victory over Northern Illinois (0-1), UB football (1-0) will return to Buffalo to face Miami (OH) (1-0) Tuesday night.
The defending MAC champions started the season on the right foot, with a wild 38-31 victory over Ball State.
After a chaotic contest where Miami quarterback Brett Gabbert was injured in the second quarter, backup A.J. Mayer came in relief throwing three touchdowns and leading the RedHawks to victory.
The back-and-forth game ended when linebacker Ryan McWood intercepted a pass from Ball State quarterback Drew Pitt, leading to a Zach Kahn touchdown run with just 10 seconds remaining to seal the victory for the RedHawks.
Heading into week two, UB carries a momentum of their own following a dominant victory over Northern Illinois where the Bulls scored three defensive touchdowns.
Tuesday night’s matchup against Miami finds the Bulls facing a more experienced team than last week, a team that created problems for the Bulls last year.
UB fell to Miami in last year’s contest losing 34-20 in Oxford, OH.
Over the past six seasons, games between Buffalo and Miami have been competitive with the average margin of victory being within 10 points.
With both teams off to a good start, Tuesday night’s MAC East showdown should be exciting under the bright lights of UB Stadium.
Here’s what to expect from the RedHawks Tuesday night on ESPN:
Coach: Chuck Martin, 105-52, seventh season at Miami (OH).
After a 1-3 start, the RedHawks finished the 2019 season with an 8-6 record. Miami’s 6-2 conference record earned them a spot in the MAC Championship Game, where they defeated Central Michigan 26-21.
Quarterback Brett Gabbert impressed in his first season for the RedHawks. As the first true freshman quarterback to start a season opener in program history, Gabbert threw for 2,411 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019, winning MAC Freshman of the Year.
Gabbert built a strong rapport with his receivers last season, connecting especially well with Jack Sorenson. Sorenson led Miami with 44 receptions for 568 yards and four touchdown receptions.
Jaylon Bester led the Redhawks offense with a team-high 741 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.
The RedHawks had nine All-MAC selections in 2019, with just three returning this season.
After great careers with the RedHawks, defensive tackle Doug Costin and kicker Samuel Sloman are both playing in the NFL. Costin plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Sloman is currently a free agent after being cut by the Los Angeles Rams. All-MAC selections including linebacker Myles Reid, punter Kyle Kramer, and running back/punt returner Maurice Thomas graduated following the 2019 season.
After initially opting out of the 2020 season to prepare for the NFL Draft, 2019 first-team All-MAC selection Tommy Doyle elected to return to Miami for his senior season. Starting in 13 games at left tackle last season, Doyle has proven to be a pillar of consistency on the offensive line.
All-MAC defenders Kameron Butler and Emmanuel Rugamba return for Miami this season. Butler started in all 14 games and recorded 5.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss, becoming a force on the defensive line. Rugamba finished his 2019 season with 85 tackles, eight pass breakups and one interception. The Illinois native also won MAC Championship Defensive Player of the Game following the RedHawks 2019 conference title victory in Detroit.
Despite winning the conference title, Miami ranked near the bottom in all offensive categories last season. The RedHawks finished ninth in the conference with 24.1 points per game and 11th in yards per game, averaging just 309.1 yards per contest.
Miami’s defense carried them to victory in 2019, allowing opponents to score 28.1 points per game––fifth-best in the MAC. The defense also impressed with 38 sacks and 11 interceptions.
Injuries were a huge theme in Miami’s 38-31 victory over Ball State.
Gabbert left the game with a head injury and was relieved by Mayer, who threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns helping Miami win in week one.
If Gabbert isn’t cleared, Mayer will start his first collegiate game against UB Tuesday night.
The running back position proved to be no different for the RedHawks.
Jaylon Bester and Tyre Shelton, Miami’s two top running backs, both didn’t play in week one due to injury. Third-string back Davion Johnson left the game with an injury, leaving the RedHawks with the bottom of their depth chart to work with. Backup running back Zach Kahn scored two touchdowns for Miami, stepping up for the defending conference champions.
Redshirt freshman tight end Jack Coldiron emerged as a red-zone target for the RedHawks, catching two touchdown passes against Ball State, including a one-handed grab giving Miami the lead in the third quarter.
The impressive victory highlighted Miami’s resilience and depth; qualities that can serve the RedHawks well in an ever-changing COVID environment.
Facing an injury-riddled Miami team and the home-field advantage, it’s crucial for the Bulls to execute on Tuesday night.
In a six-game season, every game is put under a magnifying glass. One poor performance can be the difference between staying home or a trip to Detroit.
But they must proceed with caution. Miami is not only talented but also extremely well-coached under veteran Chuck Martin. The RedHawks pose threats on both sides of the ball and will give UB a more legitimate challenge after facing the inexperienced Northern Illinois squad. With last season’s loss to Miami in mind, the Bulls must capitalize on the home-field advantage and RedHawks’ injury woes.
Anthony DeCicco is the Senior Sports Editor and can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @DeCicco42.