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Football notebook: Miami, tied for division lead, reaches quasi-bye

<p>Junior quarterback Brett Gabbert has a chance to prove himself against an SEC defense this weekend</p>

Junior quarterback Brett Gabbert has a chance to prove himself against an SEC defense this weekend

Well, the stage is set.

Miami just has to wait a few days than normal before battling the Ohio Bobcats for sole first place in the Mid-American Conference’s East Division. 

With the impending arrival of their midweek schedule, the RedHawks receive what essentially amounts to a shorter bye week. They won’t play this Saturday. They and the Bobcats will wait until their Wednesday, Nov. 6 matchup to take the field again.

In their last regular-season Saturday game of the year, the RedHawks finished strong. Miami squeezed out a 23-16 road victory in the pouring rain and made head coach Chuck Martin proud.

“As proud a group as I’ve been around, probably, in my whole coaching career,” Martin said, “with just how they are, and how tough they are, and how much they prepare, and how much they care about each other and how they play through everything. Grinding out a close, tough victory was awesome.”

Miami has had to grind through a lot this season. 

The RedHawks fought through a 1-3 non-conference schedule, which CBS Sports ranked as the second-hardest slate in the country. Out of the four teams they played, three of them are ranked in the top 20 in this week’s Associated Press polls.

They’ve battled injuries all season and continued to do so last Saturday. Martin relied on true freshmen Brett Gabbert, Lonnie Phelps, Ivan Pace Jr., Caleb Shaffer, Rusty Feth and Austin Ertl to make plays against the Golden Flashes.

Miami was also missing freshman wide receiver James Maye, its big-play threat for the past month, and redshirt junior offensive lineman Danny Godlevske, a multi-year starting lineman and a player Martin has put in the conversation for being the team’s best.

Redshirt junior wideout Jack Sorenson returned to the lineup after a two-game absence, but he wasn’t all the way back to true form. He caught two balls for 26 yards.

“He was ready to play,” Martin said. “But his legs, he looks like he hasn’t run in two months, which he hasn’t run in two months. He was a poor man’s version of Jack Sorenson. He’ll keep getting his legs better and get back.”

With an extra few days to recover, Martin is hoping his team is healthier when it plays the Bobcats.

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“Obviously, the 10 days gives you an opportunity,” Martin said. “We don’t know with Danny [Godlevske], we don’t know with [redshirt junior tight end Andrew] Homer yet. I think Jack [Sorenson]’s going to be running a lot better 10 days from now … I think James [Maye] should be fine in 10 days. I hope so. I hope they’re all back.”

And when the RedHawks take the field at Ohio, they be playing their sixth road game of their nine total games this season.

Adversity, to say the least.

Martin said his team will get some time off this week.

Deservedly so.