Here’s the deal: Miami RedHawk football is usually pretty damn competitive. Not so long ago, the late Terry Hoeppner was putting teams on the field capable of scaring the daylights out of Ohio State and actually beating teams like North Carolina.
But things have gotten away from the program the last few years. Miami has dropped 10 or more games in three out of the last four seasons. Before this current spate of bad play, the program had exactly one 10-loss season in its entire history.
Mike Haywood’s first year in leading Miami was as a study in frustration. The team didn’t even score a point until the third game of the season and notched its only victory with a 31-24 decision over Toledo on Halloween.
Along the way, a bunch of freshmen saw playing time as Haywood took a tear it down and built it up from the ground approach to things. So a ton of sophomores will start this year for Miami, while more than a few true freshmen and first-year players are sprinkled among the depth chart.
With that much youth in the mix, plenty of mistakes will still be made. But there is some depth and experience at wide receiver, where seniors Armand Robinson and Jamal Rogers are better than competent and Chris Givens returns after being on the shelf most of last season with an injury.
The job of getting the ball to them will be in the hands of Zac Dysert, the redshirt sophomore quarterback who took his lumps in 2009. Given the carnage around him, his 12 TD’s vs. 16 picks last season didn’t represent a terrible performance, especially when you consider the fact that he was sacked 51 times. In the win over Toledo he was a sterling 31-of-51 for 344 yards and no interceptions.
Why Miami is in the bottom 10: This thing will get turned around once these youngsters grow up a little and get some confidence. However the schedule won’t allow that to happen during the first half of the season. Trips to Florida, Missouri and Cincinnati will be absolutely brutal. Also, three out of Miami’s final four games will be on the road.
How Miami can avoid the bottom 10: Eastern Michigan visits Oxford in the second game of the year and represents a fantastic opportunity for Miami to even up its record following the trip to Florida. The confidence boost from an early win would be great, but more importantly, the RedHawks absolutely have to run the ball better. They were 119th nationally in rushing a season ago.