The Redhawks have found themselves in a fairly lengthy losing streak as of late. What is the general thoughts and feelings regarding this streak amongst the fan base?
Well, there's been a chronic case of apathy in regards to fan support for Miami's football program in the past few years. As a recent grad and past beat writer for the student paper in Oxford, I can say with certainty that hardly any students show up that don't have to be there, if any. It's pretty sad, but having a team that's won eight games in the past three years doesn't help. It's just not engrained in the student culture and most of the fans that show up are alumni and locals. That being said, there has been a resurgent interest this year with the new Tailgate Town and the stands are starting to look a little more full than they were the past few seasons. Instead of "well, we lost another game - what else is new?" you're starting to hear more encouraging talk, and two close games in which Miami threw for a couple hundred yards each is a reassuring sign. More than anything, folks just want a competitive team that can steal a few games at this point, and I think head coach Chuck Martin is a guy that can deliver that - possibly more.
Michigan will be coming into this game wounded by Notre Dame, talk about how Miami can come into this game and take advantage of that?
Missing guys like Morgan and Taylor hurts, but I don't think that Miami can match up against the Maize and Blue's starters and a few second string players here and there won't take much wind out of Michigan's sails. Add in the fact that UofM is coming off that rough 31-0 shutout in South Bend and chances are it's going to be a long afternoon for the Redhawks. The only way that Miami can make it a game is if they pick on that secondary the way that Golson and the Irish did.
How will Miami scout Michigan? The type of play between the first game against Appalachian State and Notre Dame appeared to be kind of polar opposites.
Coach Martin made it clear that Miami was going to focus on their own game tape versus EKU more than anything this week (6 turnovers merits that kind of response), but he did mention in his Monday press conference that he had been in touch with Brian Kelly's staff and had watched most of the game live, as well as a few times on tape. Martin added that Notre Dame did an excellent job of exploiting some of Michigan's weak points and that he hopes to do something somewhat similar, but he's more concerned about his own team's weaknesses and trying to right those before their trip to the Big House.
How does having Chuck Martin aid the Redhawks against Michigan? He is someone who is very familiar with the Wolverines.
You're right, Martin's experience as offensive coordinator with the Irish will be the Redhawks' only real weapon going up against this angry pack of Wolverines on Saturday. Miami's still climbing out of the cellar from last year's 0-12 season, so Martin is most concerned about weekly improvement and doing little things right, not trying come out and beat Michigan. I think that attitude and his poise and experience playing in huge games such as this one will calm a lot of his players down, especially the younger guys who haven't played in front of such a rambunctious and intimidating venue.
Talk about some playmakers on both sides of the ball, is there anyone on roster that could challenge Michigan?
Well Notre Dame transfer Andrew Hendrix has been an immediate impact player for the 'Hawks at quarterback thus far. His 677 passing yards rank him 11th in the FBS and he's tacked on four touchdowns in two games, a radical departure from last year, which ended seeing Miami throw just eight TD's and gain a meager 1491 yards through the air. He and fellow transfer and tight end Alex Welch have some chemistry and have already hooked up for a touchdown this year, so that's a nice combo in the red zone. Other than those two, Redhawk receivers Dawan Scott and David Frazier are the two marquee guys flanking the line, and both possess deep-threat and acrobatic catch abilities. But that doesn't mean they're the only wide outs Hendrix will target; Jared Murphy and Rokeem Williams have both hauled in TD catches in the first two weeks, and the latter has 204 yards on the year.
Any true freshman (or even redshirts) that could see some playing time that Michigan fans should look out for?
The guy that stands out to me who is fun to watch is fifth-year cornerback Quinten Rollins. Though not a freshman, this year marks Q's first season on the gridiron since high school. He was a four-year starter at point guard for the basketball team and finished his career second all-time in steals for Miami with more than 200. He didn't like his chances at the professional level on the court, so he used his fifth year of eligibility that the NCAA gives their athletes in a secondary sport and gave Martin a call. After three days of practicing with the team he had earned a spot as the top DB, and currently has Miami's only INT of the season (and boy, was it a highlight reel catch - I wish I could find a clip of it for you). It's a cool story for a great kid, and though he was shaking off the rust in his first two games I think he's finally finding his stride - who knows? He could impress enough to get a shot at the next level when this is all over.
Staying true to our name, we're all about the local beer scene. Do you have any favorite local beers that you could share to us?
Ah, I love this about your blog and this might be the toughest question you've asked. I grew up just down the road from Oxford in Cincinnati, and the craft beer industry has exploded onto the scene in the past couple of years. One of the the most popular and fastest growing breweries is Rhinegeist, known for their hoppy and sessionable beer selection that packs quite a potent punch ("Truth" is arguably their best, a 7.2%, 75 IBU india pale ale with a dry, peachy/passionfruit finish). Seeing as how I'm more of a lager/ale/stout kind of guy, my favorite craft company might be Rivertown, whose brewery is within walking distance of my house and a 15 minute drive north of the city. Their Hop Bomber and Oktoberfest brews have found their way into stores all over Southwest Ohio - even in Oxford - but Rivertown is truly at their best as the months get colder. Their Winter Ale sports an 8.2 ABU with notes of caramel and cinnamon, and has quickly become my go-to beverage after a long night of reporting late-season football or hockey.