The game started off with a successful Redhawk drive. It would be their only touchdown of the game. But damn, they sure looked good doing it.
Star junior quarterback Brett Gabbert was surgical on the first series. A third-and-ten dime to redshirt-senior receiver Mac Hippenhammer extended the drive, and then Gabbert shoved his head into the pile on fourth and short a little bit later to convert another crucial first. Redshirt-junior running back Tyre Shelton found the end zone on a 22-yard rush to score Miami’s only touchdown of the game.
It was the only time all game the RedHawks really got going on offense.
With about three minutes remaining in the game, Gabbert went down awkwardly under a Kentucky defensive lineman and was shaken up. He walked off under his own power, but the prognosis from head coach Chuck Martin wasn’t promising.
“We lose Brett,” Martin said in his Monday press conference. “He’s going to be out for a while. We don’t have a timetable yet but he’s not going to play for a while.”
Martin believes Sam Vaughan, the redshirt sophomore starting left tackle, is out for the year after an injury suffered Saturday. Starting tight end Jack Coldiron was also injured during the game, but according to Martin he’ll miss the next game against Robert Morris then be week-to-week.
From the first drive, an inexperienced Miami defense made life hard on Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, who is projected by some to be a top ten pick in this year’s NFL draft.
Miami’s pass rush cupboard got picked bare by the transfer portal and NFL draft this year. Ivan Pace Jr., Kam Butler and Lonnie Phelps all went to bigger schools. Dominique Robinson and Sterling Weatherford went to the big show. Altogether, that’s 27 of Miami’s 38 sacks from last year.
Despite this, and Kentucky’s experienced offensive line, Miami’s defense was consistently in the backfield on Saturday night. The guys that were expected to step up did: sixth-year Ryan Mcwood chipped in 11 tackles and half of a sack, and power five transfers Ty Wise and Corey Suttle each pulled Levis down too.
Redshirt first-year defensive back Eli Blakely, who only saw action in three games in 2021, looked like a potential future core piece for this RedHawk defense, exploding for nine tackles and an interception.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
OK, so what now?
Miami played well against Kentucky. The results of Saturday’s game should have been heartening for RedHawk fans, but when you lose your starting quarterback, all bets are off.
It’ll likely be Aveon Smith under center for Miami for the foreseeable future. The 6-1, 203 lb redshirt-freshman is three for five in passing attempts on his career for 16 yards. He’s also recorded 52 yards on nine rushing attempts as a RedHawk.
Smith and the ’Hawks hit the field again Saturday, Sept. 10 at Yager Stadium for a 6 p.m. kickoff against Robert Morris.