Head coach Don Treadwell has big shoes to fill.
By: Athlon Sports | 6/3/11, 4:51 PM EDT
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MAC East PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Don Treadwell, First Season | OFF. COORDINATOR: John Klacik | DEF. COORDINATOR: Pete Rekstis
Don Treadwell considers himself blessed with the presence of two high-caliber quarterbacks on his first roster as Miami’s coach. Junior Zac Dysert played well enough in the RedHawks’ first 10 games last season to be named second-team all-conference, but when he missed the rest of the season with a lacerated spleen, then-redshirt freshman Austin Boucher stepped in and led Miami to four consecutive wins, including the MAC Championship Game and the GoDaddy.com Bowl. That set up a spirited competition for the starting job that is expected to go deep into summer camp.
Dysert is more of a dual-threat, and he averaged more passing yards per game than Boucher, who finished with a slightly better efficiency rating.
Whoever wins the job will work behind a talented and experienced offensive line that features returning starters in center Brad Bednar, left guard Brandon Brooks and tackles Josh Harvey and Matt Kennedy. He also will throw to a productive group of wide receivers. Sophomore Nick Harwell didn’t hit the starting lineup until midway through last season, but he wasted no time reminding observers of the explosive Ryne Robinson.
Treadwell’s main concern is finding a running back, especially after Tracy Woods left the team after spring practice. Woods was expected to start this year, after backing up Thomas Merriweather last season.
Nine starters, including the top eight tacklers, return to a speedy and aggressive Miami defense. Upholding the tradition of a strong linebacking corps, senior middle man Jerrell Wedge set the pace last season with 101 tackles, including a team-high 15 for a loss, while junior Evan Harris logged a team-high 48 solo tackles and tied cornerback Dayonne Nunley for the team lead with six interceptions. Injury-plagued senior Ryan Kennedy could push the starters if he stays healthy. Kennedy had 8.5 tackles for a loss in only six games last season.
Nunley, who started five games at cornerback and five as the nickel back, moves into a full-time role at corner opposite D.J. Brown. The RedHawks lost veteran strong safety Jordan Gafford, last year’s defensive quarterback, to graduation. Junior Pat Hinkel, the returning starter at free safety, will help plug the leadership gap.
The linebackers and defensive backs weren’t Miami’s only disruptive forces. Junior end Jason Semmes led the RedHawks with six sacks. Semmes and junior tackle Austin Brown are the anchors of a deep, talented and experienced defensive line.
Placekicker Trevor Cook overcame his inconsistency to be named first-team all-conference last season, his last at Miami. Sophomore Mason Krysinski gets the first crack at replacing him. Dependable sophomore Zac Murphy returns as the punter.
Treadwell, a former Miami walk-on wide receiver who became a team captain, has big shoes to fill. His predecessor, Mike Haywood, oversaw the most dramatic improvement from one season to the next in college football history, going from 11 losses in 2009 to 10 wins last season.
Treadwell, who filled in last season as Michigan State’s coach while Mark Dantonio recovered from his heart attack, faces the pressure of not only replacing a successful coach, but also doing it with a roster loaded with depth, talent and experience. In other words, if the RedHawks struggle, guess who will be blamed?