I stop short of labeling this as the most important game of the year, not just because I find blindly assigning importance to events that have yet to transpire if not completely abhorrent, then at the very least mind numbingly stupid. Not just that, but if you are to wake up on December 5th and survey the relative importance of this seasons games there is almost no chance that anyone will settle on the Battle for the Bell as the game of the year. This game hasn't defined UC's season in several years, it certainly doesn't like it used to. That isn't exactly reassuring to me.
- Miami is coming into this game with a 3-2 record, set against UC's 1-3 which makes this the first time since 2000 that the Redhawks have come into this game with a winning record while UC sported a losing record, UC was 3-4 while Miami was 4-3. For those that want to know history and what not UC won that game, by 30 points, in Nippert Stadium.
- My position on UC right now is thus. They have the talent and ability to beat any team remaining on the schedule, but they have enough bouts of inconsistency to lose to any of the 8 remaining teams. There are some things about Miami that do give me pause for concern. Zac Dysert is a very good quarterback who can do some damage. Their receivers are pretty decent and could produce given the soft and predictable coverage UC has shown to date.
- I expounded on this point when I previewed the Miami defense. But to continue making the point Miami doesn't play good defense, they don't produce stops in bunches they have to force turnovers to shorten the field for their offense. If they don't do that there defense is in trouble.
- Don't get too caught up on the 3-2 record for Miami. They have won three games, and a win is always a win. But UC, even at 1-3 is comfortably better than Colorado State, Kent State or Eastern Michigan who have combined to go a very impressive 2-10 with wins over Murray State and Idaho.
- Isaiah Pead should have another big game Tomorrow night. It's a home game, and his Home/Away splits are eyeopening, this year and last. Miami has good overall numbers against the run this season, but that has come against the 63rd, 65th, 85th, 111th and 120th ranked rushing attacks so their overall quality is still in doubt. Given what Pead was able to do against the Oklahoma defense you have to give the advantage to Pead and the Four Guard Offensive Line, henceforth known on this blog and on twitter as the FGOL.
- Its a good thing that Walter Stewart is adjusting to playing with his hand in the dirt. Miami runs a ton of three receiver sets, primarily because they can't run the ball at all and throwing is the only way they can move the Football with any consistency. That works out neatly for UC because the best defensive package they have is the nickle. Which means Walt at DE and Pat Lambert at the Nickle. I went over this in my defensive recap for Oklahoma, but the stats are worth mentioning again. When UC stopped trying to match personnel groupings with the Sooners and stuck with the Nickle at the midpoint of the third quarter OU had six drives, the longest of which was 44 yards and ended in J.K. Schaffer's pick and half of the six ended in three and outs.
- By the way Pat Lambert has been a pleasant surprise as a nickle back, not a Malik Bomar level pleasant surprise, but pleasant none the less.
- Drew Frey is cleared to play, which means that Chris Williams will probably be heading benchward. I am not exactly sure that is a good thing. Frey may be a vocal leader in the secondary, but I am not sure he is that much better than Chris Williams, certainly Frey isn't in coverage, and I don't think Frey has as much potential as Williams does long term. It isn't a terrible problem for a coach to have, two guys who can both play a position, but it will be interesting to see who gets the nod.
- UC Injury news, courtesy of Brian Bennett. Darrin Williams is a no go, meaning John Goebel will get the backup duties behind in addition to resuming the kinda sorta Fullback roll he played against Oklahoma. Adrian Witty is doubtful at corner which is just super with Dominique Battle out for the year. I presume Devin Drane will backup both corner spots. Lastly Ben Guidugli and Jake Rogers will both go despite nursing injuries to their Leg and Foot respectively.
- Miami has some issues with injuries as well. Up to five people who have started a game so far for the Redhawks are down or questionable for tomorrow.
- I think this game is pretty simple for UC. If they execute at the level they did against the Sooners and don't turn the ball over they should win comfortably. If they bring the execution from weeks 1-3 to Nippert Stadium this game could get very interesting and the 13 game Nippert Stadium may be in jeopardy.
Lets Go Cats!