'Hawks land in Akron
The Miami University football team (2-2, 1-0 Mid-American Conference (MAC)) heads to Akron, Ohio to take on the University of Akron (1-3) in a MAC East conference game. The matchup marks the RedHawks' first MAC road game and the Zips MAC opener.
"It is always tougher when you're playing on the road," Head Coach Don Treadwell said. "We've got our work cut out for us. It's the next challenge up and it just happens to be another MAC game in our division as we move forward."
Akron made a splashy coaching hire in the offseason, bringing in Terry Bowden, son of coaching legend Bobby Bowden.
"The first thing that comes to mind is the change they've made in leadership," Treadwell said. "The name Bowden weighs heavy. There is so much respect for just that last name. The father, and then you look at Terry Bowden, a tremendous coach and I think if you look at his track record and I think he's won just about everywhere he's been in major fashion."
Akron has won only one game each of the past two seasons, but things have started to change under Bowden.
"Because of Bowden's influence, in my opinion, you see this team in four games really playing hard from the first quarter through the entire game," Treadwell said. "And they are executing well."
The Zips have not beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision team since 2010 when they defeated the University at Buffalo.
"They play hard," redshirt senior quarterback Zac Dysert said. "They are not the same team they have been in the past. We have to take it seriously and we have to play hard."
Dysert enters the game as the reigning MAC East Player of the Week following his four-touchdown performance against the University of Massachusetts.
"The most important thing is that we won," Dysert said. "If you focus on the team, focus on the stuff you're supposed to, the individual stuff will come."
Akron is currently ninth in the nation in passing offense, averaging nearly 341 yards per game.
"They're very explosive and it will be a great challenge for us," senior defensive back D.J. Brown said. "We're excited to play them this weekend."
Leading the Zips passing attack is senior quarterback Dalton Williams, who transferred to Akron from Stephen F. Austin this year. Williams has thrown for 1,233 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, both of which eclipse his career mark at Stephen F. Austin.
"They have a very dangerous passing attack," Treadwell said. "They've got a very good and efficient quarterback."
Williams' favorite target has been senior wide receiver Marquelo Suel, who has caught a team high 32 balls for 352 yards and three scores.
Sophomore running back Jawon Chisholm leads the Akron rushing attack, with 51 carries for 242 yards. He also has two receiving touchdowns.
Akron has struggled this year in the turnover department and is tied for 93rd in the nation in turnover margin. The RedHawks are tied for 41st and are tied for 14th in interceptions.
"Our defense has been able to force turnovers," Treadwell said. "So even though teams at times have put drives together against us, running the ball in particular, at the end of the day what matters most is number one you stop the drive. Number two, even more importantly, you force turnovers."
The Red and White are ranked 110th in total defense, but are 18th in red zone defense.
"I think we've been doing well," senior defensive lineman Austin Brown said. "But there is always room for improvement. We're not happy with that, we're just trying to get better every day."
Redshirt junior linebacker Chris Wade has stepped up his game lately, and now leads the team with 38 tackles. He is also seventh in takedowns among MAC players. Wade entered the season with 12 career tackles.
"He's been very productive," Treadwell said. "Especially in the last two games."
On the injury front, junior wide receiver Nick Harwell is doubtful for Saturday's game and could miss his third straight game, according to Treadwell. Senior defensive lineman Austin Brown is still week-to-week as he continues to nurse a back injury. He has been limited in practice the past few weeks.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at InfoCision Stadium. Fans can listen to the game at www.redhawkradio.com.
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