I am deeply, deeply conflicted about this game. More so than usual, and it has nothing to do with what will transpire between the chalk. You see I am one of the few Bearcat fans who has nothing bad to say about Don Treadwell, I know the man and his family very well. And I want for him to be a success at Miami, but I obviously don't want UC to lose. So this game is going to be 11 different kinds of awkward for me personally.
As for the game itself there is something at stake for both teams. For UC the stakes are a little bit more existential than they are for Miami. UC has a chance to win for a 6th consecutive game in the series. That doesn't sound like much, but in the long, long history of this series no team has ever won 6 straight. A win puts UC at 4-1 with a ton of momentum heading into the bye and the Big East schedule. For Miami the season hangs on a knives edge. They are 0-3 now and starting 0-4 and 0-1 in the MAC would basically end any shot at a bowl game. Miami is a desperate, hungry team playing at home. That can be a combustible and dangerous combination. So what exactly are the Redhawks bringing to the fight.
The offense that Miami will bring into this contest won't resemble the offense that Tread ran for Dantionio here at UC. Gone for the most part is the two TE's and FB run, run, pass, punt offense that sort of defined those UC teams. Treadwell doesn't call the game on offense, his offensive coordinator is John Klacik, formerly the headcoch of Lock Haven. The offense is surprisingly pass heavy this year, running on just 40 per cent of all offensive snaps. It could be a chicken and the egg thing, where they can't run so they don't try to, but it could be that the system calls for Miami to put it up 40 times a game.
Zac Dysert is the man at QB, though in a rare turn for a they do have a proven and capable backup in Austin Boucher. Boucher of course led Miami to their dramatic MAC championship over Northern Illinois. But back to Dysert. He is completing 61 per cent of his passes and has 784 yards to his credit, but the bad news is that he has thrown at least 1 INT in each game and is averaging a paltry 6.2 yards per attempt and has a QB rating of 113.06.
The go to target is Nick Harwell who has amassed 301 yards in just two games since missing the season opener against Missouri. He is a guy that has to be watched on every play. The other main target is Chris Givens who is back for what seems like his 20th year. No other receiver is averaging more than 5 catches a game
As stated above Miami can't run, here is the proof of their inability to run. On the season Miami has run for 199 yards, that's 40 less than UC averages per game. 119th in rushing yards, 118th in rushing per game, 119th in yards per attempt, and 84th in rushing TD's. The blame for this terrible output falls partially on the backs. But the offensive lines culpability in the performance can't be escaped. The offensive line isn't good, they have given up 10 sacks in three game and rank 114th nationally in sacks allowed per game.
The story of the defense for Miami is pretty much identical to the story of the offense. Good in the pass game, really bad in the run. The Redhawks have surrendered 525 yards of rushing in just three games. But what's worse the Redhawks have surrendered 100 yard rushers in back to back games.
The line backing core was supposed to be a strength of the team. But injuries and rumored extra curricular activities sidelined regular starters like Jerrell Wedge. Miami started a true freshman in Tyler Tucker and Jaytee Swanson a junior who earned his first start against BG.
The secondary is kinda weird. On one hand the raw stats are good, 12th in passing yards allowed, but ob the other hand they rank 94th in pass efficiency defense. The basic gist is that teams spend far more time running against Maimi than throwing. The stats bear that out because while the run defense has faced an average of 40 attempts per game the secondary faces just 23 attempts per game. From what I can tell no one who pays attention to Miami has any confidence in the secondary.
Miami has some issues in the kicking game. That is the most polite of all possible ways to say that. Currently the Redhawks rank 93rd on Phil Steeles ranking of special teams. They do cover kickoffs well, but the rest of the group is a mess, particularly field goals and PAT's where two have been blocked in the last two games.
The Final Word
Miami is simultaneously over matched and dangerous. There is little chance for them to slow down the Bearcat offense which is rolling along in fine style. But they have enough play makers on offense to keep things interesting. The teams that perform best offensively against UC are the ones that throw the ball well. Miami is decidedly in that particular column