Minutemen storm Miami for homecoming battle
The Miami University football team (1-2) opens Mid-American Conference (MAC) play Saturday against the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Minutemen (0-3).
"It is huge; the conference race starts this weekend," redshirt senior defensive lineman Jason Semmes said. "We have to get this first win under our belt."
The Red and White no longer have to deal with perennial powerhouses like the Ohio State University and Boise State University as they start MAC play, with a trip to rival University of Cincinnati remaining on the non-conference schedule.
"It has prepared us for tough environments, tough situations and for facing a lot of adversity," senior wide receiver Andy Cruse said of the tough non-conference schedule. "Those things are good [because] they prepare us for tough conference games like this one and the rest of them."
The RedHawks are heavy favorites as UMass has only scored 19 total points this season, albeit against very difficult opponents.
"I really believe their record, probably much like us, does not reflect or indicate their ability," Head Coach Don Treadwell said. "They have played some top tier programs themselves."
The Minuteman are in their first season of Division I college football and have been outscored 145 to 19 in games against the University of Connecticut, Indiana University and the University of Michigan. They have one offensive touchdown all season.
"They're a talented team and they've played some talented teams," Semmes said, "We know we're going to get their best shot."
Former Michigan running back and redshirt senior Michael Cox is the team's leading rusher with 113 yards on the year. True freshman Mike Wegzyn is the Minutemen's starting quarterback. He has 348 yards on the year with one pick and no touchdowns. He also accounted for the team's only offensive touchdown on a run.
"They've got a really tough, strong, big running back in there," Treadwell said. "I believe their quarterback is very efficient. He plays very smart within their scheme."
Despite the seeming advantage the RedHawks have, the team says it will not take the game lightly.
University of Notre Dame transfer and redshirt senior Deion Walker is Massachusetts' top receiving threat, with 87 yards on the year.
With his performance against Boise State, redshirt senior quarterback Zac Dysert moved into 10th place all time in passing yards in the MAC. He is now just over 1,500 yards short of passing Ben Roethlisberger as Miami's all-time leader.
Andy Cruse has caught 26 balls on the season, good for third in the NCAA. Cruse is only three catches short of the leading receivers.
Junior wide out Nick Harwell will likely miss the game due to a leg injury he sustained last week at practice. Sophomore wide receiver David Frazier will continue to start in his place, after catching three balls for 63 yards in the loss to Boise.
Senior defensive lineman Austin Brown's status for the game is up in the air after missing last week's game with a back injury. However, he has been practicing at times during the past week.
Senior linebacker Pat Hinkel is one of only 11 players with at least three picks this season. He is the only RedHawk with an interception on the year.
The game against UMass marks homecoming for Red and White.
"It's a shot of adrenaline," Treadwell said. "Just knowing the significance of it being homecoming, but we always want to play well at home."
Kickoff is set for noon at Yager Stadium, with a Paul Brown statue at the Cradle of Coaches Plaza set to be unveiled before the game. Fans can listen to the game on WMSR at www.redhawkradio.com.
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