By: chalifour.eric | 5/5/12, 1:00 PM EDT
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You can read the entire Miami (OH) Redhawks preview in Athlon Sports' 2012 National magazine, available for purchase now at the Athlon Sports store.
#99 Miami (Ohio)
MAC East PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Don Treadwell, 4-8 (1 year) | OFF. COORDINATOR: John Klacik | DEF. COORDINATOR: Jay Peterson
The RedHawks go into the 2012 season hoping to find enough of a running game to balance the prolific passing attack led by fifth-year senior quarterback Zac Dysert. Five different players started at tailback last season, and none of them clicked, leaving Miami with a rushing game that ranked last in the nation. As a result, opposing defenses were able to tee off on Dysert and the RedHawks allowed more sacks than any other team in the conference. Three starters are back on the offensive line — but that might not be a good thing.
When Dysert has time, he has the luxury of targeting electrifying junior wide receiver Nick Harwell, who can stretch the field as well as any pass-catcher in the country. Last season, Harwell ranked second in the nation with 129.6 receiving yards per game. Fifth-year senior Andy Cruse gives Dysert a dependable possession receiver.
Second-year coach Don Treadwell, a former Miami wide receiver, is hoping that a year of exposure to new systems will help the RedHawks be more effective. Moving senior Matt Kennedy from tackle to tight end also might help.
A quick, physical and experienced line and a shutdown secondary will bookend an inexperienced linebacker corps and help Miami maintain or even improve on its solid defensive effort of a year ago. Three starters return on the line, led by senior tackle Austin Brown. Two fifth-year seniors, tackle Mike Johns and end Jason Semmes, also return and will be joined by classmate Luke Kelly, who’s being moved from linebacker to end.
The return of cornerback Dayonne Nunley — who has nine interceptions in two seasons — and safety Pat Hinkel will help Miami weather the graduation loss of safety Anthony Kokal. Senior D.J. Brown will be pushed at the other corner by Chrishawn Dupuy, who’s returning to the secondary after being tried last season at tailback. Sophomore Orne Bey, another disappointment at tailback, is also an option at corner.
To describe Miami’s kicking game as disappointing would be generous. Mason Krysinski missed four of his six field goal attempts, including a 22-yard try in a 24–21 home loss to Western Michigan. Zac Murphy averaged 39.1 yards per punt, eighth in the conference and an exact match of his average from the previous season. RedHawks coaches hope a year of experience will help both players.
Miami’s kickoff and punt returns were similarly unimpressive last season. Nunley is the most experienced kickoff returner. Harwell can handle punts, but the coaches would like to see somebody else step in to limit his exposure on special teams.
Treadwell, the former Michigan State offensive coordinator who briefly served as the Spartans’ head coach when Mark Dantonio had a heart attack, is counting on a large group of seniors not only to lend experience on the field, but also to school the younger RedHawks in the Miami tradition, of which he is very fond. It won’t make a difference if Miami can’t put together some type of sustained rushing attack that would give Dysert some much-needed space and limit the number of minutes the defense has to spend on the field.
The RedHawks defense will face enough punishment in their opener at Ohio State in what will be Urban Meyer’s ballyhooed debut as the Buckeyes’ coach. Visits to Boise State and Cincinnati won’t be helpful going into the meat of Miami’s MAC schedule.