MU revs up for road trip to Illiniois
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2013 00:09
After starting the season 0-3, the Miami University football team is looking for a spark of inspiration against Big Ten Conference opponent the University of Illinois.
The Miami defense and special teams units are coming off its best outing of the year, with redshirt senior punter Zac Murphy and senior cornerback Dayonne Nunley earning Mid-American Conference recognition for their performances against the University of Cincinnati. The defense allowed a season-low 359 yards of total offense to the Bearcats, and according to head coach Don Treadwell, that’s a sign of better things to come for his young team.
“That’s evidenced in their performance that the defense has made some positive strides,” Treadwell said. “It’s not that they’re doing anything new, it’s more or less giving those young men time to develop and see the system, because again – no practice can simulate game speed and tempo. The focus of each week is to continue to see the improvement as we go.”
Sophomore linebackers Kent Kern and Josh Dooley, junior defensive back Chrishawn Dupuy, and sophomore defensive lineman Bryson Albright all recorded career-high tackle numbers this past weekend, but it was Kern that was the biggest standout of the linebacker corps. He had 15 tackles and was the most disruptive player in the box all game. Kern said he hopes he and his defensive cronies can continue to make strides and plays.
“We needed the experience,” Kern said of the defense’s first few weeks. “Some guys were maybe a little shell-shocked in the first game, but it’s definitely getting better and better and we’re learning more and more. Experience is the biggest factor.”
Miami’s offense is still a question mark though. The offense has averaged less yardage each week the season has progressed, but that doesn’t stop redshirt senior quarterback and captain Austin Boucher and company from growing from it and moving forward.
“With that being a rival game, it hurt a lot,” Boucher said of the loss to UC last weekend. “Especially knowing how the rest of the team played, the offense didn’t do its job to our best capability. We learned from it. This was a great game for us in the sense of knowing what we need to get better at. Knowing that, at 0-3 is when adversity hits, and that’s when, as a team, you stay stronger than ever.”
Miami will need that attitude heading into play the 2-1 Fighting Illini on enemy turf. The Illini maintain a stellar passing attack led by redshirt senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase who has completed 63 passes for 884 yards and seven touchdowns, while having only two of his attempts intercepted. Illinois also trounced the same Cincinnati team that Miami lost to, beating them by a score of 45-17 on Sept. 7.
Treadwell said the Illinois game will present a tough challenge.
“They put up a lot of points, and they’ve got a tremendous amount of skill,” Treadwell said. “They’ve got a dual threat quarterback, so they’ve got kind of a split package. And on defense they’ve got great team speed, so it’s another great challenge. Here we go, into our third BCS game. We’ll line up, suit up, and be the best we can.”
Kickoff is scheduled for noon Saturday in Champaign, Ill.