RedHawks look to rebound in 2012 season
Published: Sunday, July 1, 2012
Updated: Sunday, July 1, 2012 21:07
After a less than stellar year, the Miami University Football team hopes to get back to a bowl game and challenge for a Mid-American Conference (MAC) Title.
The team struggled, posting a 4-8 record (3-5 in the MAC) in Head Coach Don Treadwell’s first year. The RedHawks look to return to their 2010 form, when they went 10-4 overall and 7-1 in the MAC.
“I think we are working hard in the summer and trying to keep everyone accountable,” senior safety Pat Hinkel said. “It’s more of an attitude thing and trying to out-work the other person competing for the starting job.”
The Red and White are projected to have 18 returning starters, none bigger than senior quarterback Zac Dysert and junior wide receiver Nick Harwell. The ’Hawks ranked 14th in the nation last year in passing offense and should replicate a similar number this year. Dysert threw for 3,513 yards last year and had 23 passing touchdowns while rushing for four more.
Harwell is the NCAA’s leading returner in receiving yards with 1,425 on 97 receptions. Harwell was second in the nation with 129.6 yards per game. Harwell is arguably the best player no one outside of Oxford has heard of and Dysert and Harwell form one of the best duos in college football.
Despite the high octane passing offense, the RedHawks were 75th in the NCAA in total offense because of their running game, or lack thereof. The RedHawks finished dead last in rushing offense, having only 668 yards rushing all year; 68 individual rushers had more yards than the entire Red and White offense last year.
Five different players started at tailback, none finding any sustained success. The team might be forced to rely on three incoming freshman at the position. To make matters worse, the team will be without massive offensive guard Brandon Brooks, who was the Houston Texans’ third round pick in the NFL Draft.
The RedHawks will be working with a new defensive coordinator this year as Jay Peterson is promoted to the position from linebackers coach. The Red and White had the nation’s 25th-ranked passing defense, led by junior cornerback Dayonne Nunley and his three picks.
The team also returns three senior starters on the defensive line, with senior defensive lineman Austin Brown returning as well as returning sack leader, redshirt senior defensive lineman Jason Semmes.
“Our D-line has been awesome [in practice] and I think it is one of our strengths for this year.” Hinkel said.
However, the team lost starting linebackers Jerrell Wedge and Ryan Kennedy to graduation. To help offset the losses at the position, Hinkel said he is moving down from safety. Hinkel is the team’s leading returning tackler with 70 tackles.
The RedHawks have a tough non-conference schedule this year, starting with the season opener at the Ohio State University (OSU) in Urban Meyer’s first game as OSU head coach. They also travel to Boise State University and to rival University of Cincinnati.
However, the Red and White drew a favorable MAC schedule, compared to last year. They play last year’s MAC East Champion Ohio University and Kent State University at home. Their four in-conference road games are against Bowling Green State University, Central Michigan University, the University at Buffalo and the University of Akron. Those teams went a combined 12-36 last year. The team also managed to avoid Western Michigan University, the University of Toledo and Northern Illinois University. Those three perennial MAC West leaders went a combined 27-13 last year.
The team will play five of their first seven games on the road but will play two of their final three at home. Ideally, a MAC East Title will be on the line in those games.