Cradle of Coaches: The Miami University RedHawks much like Eastern Michigan University are in search of its first conference win of the season. EMU travels to Oxford, Ohio this weekend to take on the RedHawks and their second year head coach Chuck Martin. Martin has a 3-18 record since taking over the program and currently stands with a 1-8 record this season, identical to Chris Creighton at EMU.
Martin coached at Division II power Grand Valley State University, and was an assistant at the University of Notre Dame before accepting the job at Miami. The “Cradle of Coaches” was the nickname given to the football program for the great success stories of the many head coaches and assistant coaches that have been through the Miami football program. Coaches like John Pont, Woody Hayes, John Harbaugh, Bo Schembechler, Paul Brown, Bill Narduzzi, Jim Tressel, Sean Payton, Joe Novak, EMU’s own Jay Peterson and so many more have come out of Miami at some-point in their careers.
Straight Outta High School: Miami is loaded with young talent: both inheriting young talent and recruiting talent. Martin took an interesting approach to the job. He gathered an exceptional recruiting class in his first year, giving the recruits the opportunity to get early playing time. These are the guys that will be the future of the program, and experience is key to that.
“You can tell that he’s done a really good job recruiting and they’re playing early,” said EMU coach Chris Creighton. “A young group withstands some of the losses better than a more veteran group. They’re young and hungry and getting better and know that they’re going to have four years to play.”
Young Offense Finding Identity, Slowly Leaving the Underclassman Carriage: Miami’s offense is the youngest in the conference. Nine games into the season you begin to see the growth and development of what the young players are capable of. The pieces start to fit together a little better week by week, as the underclassman become wiser and more knowledgeable of the game. This is the time they begin to leave the underclassman carriage to become driven leaders and make statements about who they truly are and how far they’ve come.
Miami had a tight quarterback competition earlier in the season with three guys competing for the starting job. Senior, Drew Kummer, and freshman Billy Bahl and Gus Ragland looked to take control of the spot. Bahl has started the last four weeks for Miami, but has played in multiple games this season. He has a 41.5 percent completion percentage, while compiling 931-yards and four touchdowns, and has the opportunity to surpass 1,000-passing yards on the season against EMU this weekend.
The RedHawks will look to use the air attack as and advantage against the EMU secondary. They have the ability to spread the ball out evenly to all their receivers. Sophomore, Sam Martin leads the team with 26-receptions, 508-yards and a pair of touchdowns this season. Miami doesn’t limit themselves to a single target though, having others like junior, Jared Murphy, freshman Rokeem Williams, sophomore Chris Hudson, and sophomore Ryan Smith. The five combined account for 1,511 of the receiving yards this season.
“They’re throwing the ball a little more than the opponents we’ve seen lately. Its not as balanced,” said EMU defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin.
Much like the receiver position, Miami has youth at running back. They are still looking for an identity at the position not having the greatest success on the ground. They have looked to multiple backs but have yet to see a RB reach 100-yards rushing in a game.
One Play Changes Everything on Defense: Coming off a close 29-24 loss to Buffalo, Miami did a lot of good things defensively. The RedHawks held Buffalo to just 124-yards on the ground and made their presence felt in the backfield. Martin stresses to his team that one play defensively can change the outcome and momentum of a game, and that they need to play every down as if something big will happen.
The defensive line and linebackers try to put lots of pressure on the quarterback when throwing the ball, and do a good job at getting to the ball carrier down in the backfield. That pressure worked last week as early in the game Miami got to the Buffalo QB, forcing an interception that was returned 76-yards for a touchdown.
The defense is led by senior linebacker, Kent Kern, who has 74-tackles, 11 of which were for a loss of yards. Paul Moses also one of the leading tacklers compiling 59-tackles, and has three sacks on the season.
Miami won’t be the greatest defense EMU has seen this season, but a vastly improved defense from the start of the year. Miami gives up an average of 444.3-yards per game, while allowing 38-points per game.
Close Calls: Miami’s lone win was against Presbyterian College in week one, 26-7. The RedHawks have been in some close games, with Cincinnati, Kent State and Buffalo this season but fallen just short in all three. EMU and Miami have common losses to Western Michigan and Northern Illinois, by somewhat similar margins.
The second year head coaches, with matching records will clash this Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. with the game being streamed live on ESPN3.com.