Due to a number of reasons, the usual Maize n Preview failed to make its appearance for the Utah game. I personally take the blame for the loss. I simply did not know my power. A mistake I will not duplicate.
Maize n Preview! A Misinformed 2008 Preview of Miami (Ohio) at The University of Michigan
University: Miami University
Location: Oxford, OH
All Time Football Record: 648-374-44
Team Name: Red Hawks
Number of National Championships: 0
Number of MAC Championships: 21
Last League Championship: 2003
First Season of Football: 1881 (0-1)
Last Season: 2007 (6-7)
Head Coach: Shane Montgomery
Stadium: Fred C. Yager (30,012)
Fine Miami Blogs: Miami Hawk Talk
A (Very) Little Insight Into The Miami Redhawks
Since the departure for Indiana of the now deceased Terry Hoeppner (R.I.P) in 2004, Miami’s been through a rough ride. 2005 saw a 7-5 season which was followed by a 2-10 disaster in 2006. But last year saw Miami reach the MAC championship game, and this year Miami returns 17 starters and looks to be one of the best teams in the MAC.
Shane Montgomery ran Terry Hoeppner’s offense from ‘01-’04, including the magical 2003 season when the Redhawks put up an obscene 602 points over 14 games (averaging out to 43 points a game)! Their lowest output that season was 3 points versus Iowa then 33 against Bowling Green. The guy can coach offense. To aid him on the defensive side he brought in Jay Hood from basic obscurity as his defensive coordinator. Overall the stats were actually worse than 2006 on defense, but Miami led the MAC in scoring defense, sacks, yards per carry, yards per catch, and was second in total yards per game. Once he got his feet wet and hit the conference schedule, Hood turned out to be a decent coordinator. At least that’s what his stats say. Hood plays an aggressive defense that stacks the line and leaves a lot of man coverage available.
Numbers wise, this should be a relatively good Miami offense. While last year wasn’t pretty, the Redhawks offense put up enough points to win six games before falling in the MAC championship. This year the Redhawks have the advantage of 3 returning starters on the line and its two new starters played in 11 and 12 games, respectively last year. It’s a upperclassmen laden bunch with the only youngster being Bob Gulley, who oh-by-the-way started 3 games last year and played in all 12.
On the wings the Redhawks sport some decent receivers, though none of them are considered burners. Even so, the fastest and most dangerous of the group is Dustin Woods, a 5’11 junior who led the team in receiving yards and was second in receptions despite missing time due to injury. The other two options are Eugene Harris and Armand Robinson, both of whom hauled in 35+ passes last year. Miami likes to put a slew of receivers on the field and spread out the defense in their own little modified spread offense. Tight end Tom Crabtree is an option, but not one Miami looks too that often.
The big questions are at running back and quarterback. Daniel Raudabaugh remains the starter for Miami despite throwing three picks against Vandy. He’s tall, lanky, and slow. Hey. Wait a second. Shouldn’t he be starting for us? (I keed, I keed). Last year Raudabaugh passed for almost 2500 yards and rushed for an amazing 27 net yards. Didn’t help that he got popped for at least 22 sacks last year. He’s adequate, but throwing into Michigan’s secondary will probably be just as treacherous as throwing into Vandy’s. And if he’s anything like the 19 for 41 performance he had against Vandy, I get the feeling he could get the hook early. If he goes down, or gets yanked, another statute takes his place.
Even though there are no major injuries at any position on the offense, the Miami running game hasn’t come around. Miami lost its two top rushers to graduation and this has forced sophomore Tom Merriweather into the starting position. Merriweather only touched the ball 10 times against Vandy, but still managed a 5.9 a carry average. He’s got a little bit of speed, but won’t make you turn your head in awe. Merriweather should have a decent year in conference, but will probably fair about the same or a little bit worse against Michigan’s run defense.
Despite the heathly number of yards surrendered to an appently legit Vandy team, defense will be this year's calling card for Miami. The RedHawks possess a veteran and substantial defensive line, arguably the best linebacking corps in the MAC, and a good secondary. This group is going to make it difficult on Michigan's young offense.
The Miami defensive line returns three starters, and most critically for this game, mamoth 330 pound DT Martin Channels. If he plays anything like Utah's DT, Michigan's run game is in trouble, I just have visions of David Molk being picked up a thrown into the stands by this guy. While he's no superstar in the making, he's competent as are the rest of his line mates. The Miami D line held MAC foes to the lowest YPC in conference, and returns most of its 2 deep. Miami also has the ability to bring some pressure off the wings with two returning starters in Joe Coniglio (6.5 sacks) and Travis Craven (3.5 sacks). Sure they had trouble containing Nickson in the Vandy game, but so have a lot of teams. A less mobile target in Threet will make them look a lot more competent. They're big enough and veteran enoug to get some penetration, so control of the line of scrimage is not a definite in Michigan's favor.
The linebacking corps is pretty damn good. Two of their starters notched more than 100 tackles including Clayton Mullins's good-holy-god-are-you-kidding-me 144 tackles. Usually you're going to see numbers like this when a team's offense isn't very good, and Miami in 2007 was no exception. But still. Jeebus. That's a lot of tackles. Another reason for the high numbers is the style of Miami's D. The linebackers play close to the line and are very adept a flowing to the gaps. While they're not athletic freaks of nature like Crable was, they are effective and worth watching. One thing worth noting is the linebackers are all big dudes. As a result, though they're not slow, they're not fast or quick either. They have trouble keeping up with speedier Tight Ends and if they get out of their lanes or have to get to a corner quickly, it just ain't going to happen.
Miami's secondary is veteran as well and no stranger to man coverage. because the defense generally and agrressively plays the line of scrimage, the Redhawk's corners tend to find themselves on an island often. And to their credit they are usually up to the challenge. Where they tend to get beat is against burners and taller receivers. They're not to good at the whole PBU thing either. Corner Jeff thompson had 3 picks last year but really isn't a shutdown corner, even though that's what he has to be in this defense. The quality drops off considerably after him, even though the top three corners return. The safeties are good, but more along the lines of additional linebackers and run supporters than ball hawkers. One thing that's also apparent is the secondary's difficulty with containing shifty runners, as Nickson who's got some move's but ain't Pat White bounced around for 166. It's hard to get a read on how this group will fare against Michigan simply because there's not enough data this season. Nickson only threw 16 passes, completing 9 of them for 91 yards. How thesecondary will match up on Saturday is somewhat of a crap shoot but one that seems to favor Michigan.
Miami Special Teams
They exist. Just barely. Place kicker Nate Parseghian was 13 for 20 last year. Not a particularly strong or accurate leg. Why, God, couldn't he have played for Utah? Punting? Jacob Richardson's got a decent leg, but doesn't strike fear into the masses they way the Zoltan does (from his space throne, of course).
After re-watching the Utah game and going through Brian's UFR, I am less convinced today than I was on Tuesday that the line will be sufficient to keep Michigan afloat this year. One of the main reasons is the interior of the offensive line. Some of the push Utah got was downright scary. What also makes me a tad nervous is the fact Miami ran up almost as many yards as Vandy did (340 to 360) and managed as many first downs. Just like Utah, Miami's primary means of moving the football was through the air (244 yards in the air). If the Redhawks don't toss three interceptions or waste their downs recovering their own footballs, it might have been a different game.
That said, Michigan should wins this game by two touchdowns. Quarterback play makes or breaks a football team (see: Carolina, South). What's important to realize is Michigan's pass defense is far better than Vanderbilt's (first half against Utah be damned), and Utah's offensive line and running backs aren't nearly as good as Utah's either. So defensively, Michigan has a tremendous edge over Miami's skill position players on offense, and frankly a big advantage on the line.
When Michigan's offense is on the field, I have to admit I'm nervous about the running game. The interior line was adequate from time to time, but there were some glaring problems with maintaining the interior of the line during running plays. And honestly its not like Ortmann or Schilling set the world on fire either. Michigan has to get a better push or the running game isn't going anywhere.
What will help this, surprisingly, is the retun of Kevin Grady. A skull crunching fullback was one of the more practical and entertaining elements of Rodriguez' offense in West Virginia. Grady possesses both the size and the speed to be a big factor in Michigan's running game. While I'm sure he'll be used to kill incoming linebackers, an up the gut hand off or two is certainly in the play book this weekend. Grady's presence should help provide some blocking and easy some of the pressure the line is facing.
Strangely, I feel pretty good about the passing game this week. Even though Michigan is missing its traditional Gazel bounding down the sidelines toward the endzone, Michigan's receivers are better than Miami's corners and safeties. Look for Rodriguez to spread the catches around and get Threet and/or Sheridan some easy throws early to settle them down. Threet is slated to start. If he struggles, on comes Sheridan. But if Threet remains master of his domain, I think rodriguez has to let him complete the game simply for the experience with a rested Notre Dame team waiting a week away.
I think Threet grabs the QB position by the throat this week and doesn't let go. Grady and Brandon Minor get on Track. Junior Hemmingway pulls in another sweet TD and Toney Clemons emerges. The defense breaks someone in half, then doles out pieces of a beaten an broken Raudabaugh to fans as party favors.
Michigan wins 31 - 13.