The Miami RedHawk football team beat Robert Morris University (RMU) 31-14 Saturday. Here’s two takeaways from Miami’s first win of the season.
Aveon Smith can play
After star quarterback Brett Gabbert went down last week with a shoulder injury, redshirt first-year Aevon Smith took over the starting job for the RedHawks. He performed well, finishing 14/22 in completions, with 155 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Smith said he was satisfied with his performance in his first career start.
“It was a pretty surreal moment, I'm not gonna lie,” Smith said. “It's been three years since I've actually stepped on the field and competed.”
He touched off his excellent night with an arching pass to wide receiver Mac Hippenhammer for a 19-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The RedHawks offense was still able to function well despite Gabbert’s absence, as they amassed 408 total yards. Coach Chuck Martin said the team played well without their star quarterback.
“Anything we didn’t do well tonight had nothing to do with Brett Gabbert,” Martin said. “There's plenty of things we didn’t do as well as we liked tonight, and it's not gonna have anything to do with number five not playing.”
Martin said the team still wishes Gabbert was healthy, but he knew Smith was talented enough to play. He said he loved Smith’s confidence because he wasn’t sure if he’d freeze up in the big moment.
“You know when the lights go on,” Martin said.
Young defense steps up
After allowing 37 points to Kentucky last week, Miami’s defense readjusted to hold RMU to just 14 points (and only seven allowed by the first string). This included forcing seven three-and-outs.
The RedHawks defense botched the second play of the game by allowing a 79-yard gain to RMU wide receiver Dylan Smith. The Colonials put home the first touchdown of the game three plays later. Martin said the first defensive drive was a disaster.
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“You don't do your job, you're not where you're supposed to, they're gonna make you pay,” he said. “Doesn't matter who you play.”
After that play, the RedHawks defense shut RMU down.
Sophomore defensive back John Saunders Jr. helped keep the Colonials at bay with an interception in the second quarter and an incredible diving play to break up a deep completion in the third.
Saunders said he should have intercepted the ball instead.
“It felt good, but I can't let them get behind me like that, y'know?” Saunders said. “I should've been on top of him so I could have been able to intercept that one. If I was in a better position I wouldn't have had to dive.”
Smith and Saunders will look to continue their good performances next Saturday against Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium.