Last week, we previewed Michigan’s first opponent of the season, who we also feel is the easiest opponent on the schedule, Appalachian State. Today, it’s time to take a look at the second-easiest, although the difference in “toughness” between Appalachian State and today’s featured opponent, Miami (Ohio), is very minimal. Miami got the nod over ASU because the Redhawks are already an FBS team.
|Sept. 6||Eastern Kentucky|
|Sept. 13||at Michigan|
|Sept. 20||at Cincinnati|
|Sept. 27||at Buffalo|
|Oct. 11||at Akron|
|Oct. 18||at Northern Illinois|
|Oct. 25||Kent State|
|Nov. 1||Western Michigan|
|Nov. 15||at Central Michigan|
After a surprising 10-4 record in 2010, Miami hired former Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell and he went 8-21 the next two-and-a-half seasons. He was fired on Oct. 6 last season after starting 0-5. Interim head coach Mike Bath didn’t fare any better as the Redhawks failed to win a game all season. Following the season, Miami turned to another offensive coordinator from one of Michigan’s rivals, this time hiring Notre Dame’s Chuck Martin.
Martin coached Notre Dame’s defensive backs in 2010 and 2011 before moving to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach the past two seasons, but it was his head coaching success before that which gives hope to those in Oxford, Ohio. From 2004 to 2009, Martin guided Grand Valley State to a 74-7 record and two Division II national championships. From 2005-07, GVSU won 40 straight games before falling in the playoff semifinal.
The flip side of the argument is that Martin inherited a powerhouse at GVSU from Brian Kelly, who had gone 118-35-2 there since 1991, including 41-2 the three years prior to handing the reigns to Martin. Miami is in a much different position, having achieved just one winning season in the past eight years. If there’s anything Martin can point to for hope, it’s the fact that that one winning season — the 10-4, 2010 campaign — came a year after the Redhawks went just 1-11.
But this is a massive undertaking. Miami scored 10 points or fewer in seven of 12 games last season and didn’t score more than 17. They also gave up more than 40 points in seven of 12 games. They tied for last nationally in scoring offense (9.8 points per game) and ranked 107th in scoring defense (35.7 ppg). With 15 starters returning, Martin will at least have some experience on his hands, but any improvement in 2014 will be minimal at best.
|Position||Name, Yr.||Ht, Wt||2013 Stats|
|QB||Andrew Hendrix||6’2″, 226||2-14 for 56 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT (at ND)|
|RB||Spencer Treadwell||5’10″, 205||171 yds (3.1 avg), 1 TD|
|WR||Dawan Scott||6’1″, 191||28 rec. for 425 yds, 2 TD|
|WR||David Frazier||6’0″, 175||28 rec. for 302 yds, 2 TD|
|WR||Alvonta Jenkins||6’0″, 204||12 rec. for 141 yds|
|TE||Alex Welch||6’4″, 251||(at ND)|
|LT||Jeff Tanner||6’4″, 296||10 starts (11 career starts)|
|LG||Trevan Brown||6’4″, 291||10 starts (19 career starts)|
|C||Marcus Matthews||6’3″, 325||3 starts (22 career starts)|
|RG||Brandyn Cook||6’3″, 301||6 starts (7 career starts)|
|RT||Zach Lewis||6’6″, 276||11 starts (28 career starts)|
The offense is the biggest challenge. Not only did it average just 9.8 points, but it ranked second-to-last nationally in yards per game (225.8), 116th in rush offense (101.6 ypg), 121st in pass offense (124.3 ypg), second-to-last in third-down conversions (24.6 percent), and last in red zone conversions (63.2 percent). The good news is eight starters return. But that’s about the only good news and Martin has decreed that no one’s job is safe.
Two quarterbacks who got some action last season are back, but the main starter, Austin Boucher, is gone. His replacement, Austin Gearing, who took over as a freshman and completed just 24-of-54 passes for 188 yards (just 7.8 yards per completion), no touchdowns, and three interceptions. He was also sacked nearly as many times (16) as he completed a pass. Gearing was, however, an effective runner, leading the team with 478 yards on the ground. Sophomore Drew Kummer was slightly more effective in the passing game, going 18-for-48 for 267 yards and a touchdown. But Martin can’t feel confident heading into 2014 with them as his only options.
Enter Andrew Hendrix. The senior followed Martin to Oxford as a grad-year transfer and instantly became the most talented quarterback on the roster, even if his Notre Dame career never panned out. In 16 games over the last three seasons in South Bend, Hendrix completed 25-of-58 (43.1 percent) for 360 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also added 203 rushing yards and a touchdown on 6.2 yards per carry. While his numbers aren’t much better than those of Gearing or Kummer, Hendrix has the advantage of already being familiar with Martin’s system. That may be enough to give him the starting nod, at least by the time Miami comes to Ann Arbor.
The top two rushers on Miami’s roster last season were not running backs. Behind Gearing was receiver Dawan Scott, who rushed 37 times for 231 yards (6.2 yards per carry). The top running back was Spencer Treadwell who gained just 171 yards on 56 carries (3.1 ypc) and scored one touchdown. Grant Niemiec was the only other back to top 100 yards, with 114 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries as a true freshman. Unless Martin finds luck with a newcomer or gets significant improvement from Treadwell or Niemiec, it’s probably a safe bet to assume Hendrix or Gearing will lead the team in rushing this fall.
Scott is one player who might be in for a decent season. He lead the team with 425 receiving yards on 28 catches (15.2 ypc) and two touchdowns, following a 2012 campaign in which he caught 57 passes for 851 yards and seven scores. On the other side is his former high school teammate, David Frazier, who also caught 28 passes last season, but for just 302 yards and two touchdowns. If the two can get in sync with Hendrix or Gearing, Miami could have a halfway decent passing attack. Add in Notre Dame transfer, senior tight end Alex Welch, and there is some talent there. Although Welch caught just one pass while in South Bend, he’s the highest-rated pass-catcher on the roster.
The offensive line is an experienced bunch with 99 career starts combined, but that doesn’t mean much given its struggles last season. If you thought Michigan’s line was bad last season, Miami can assure you that it can be worse. The Redhawks allowed 49 sacks — one every five passing downs — in addition to ranking 116th nationally in rushing. With no four- or five-star talent to step in, Martin will hope to find his best five in fall camp.
|Position||Name, Yr.||Ht, Wt||2013 Stats|
|DE||Bryson Albright||6’5″, 224||55 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 5 sacks|
|DT||Mwanza Wamulumba||6’3″, 281||24 tackles, 0.5 TFL|
|DT||Jimmy Rousher||6’2″, 283||23 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 FR|
|DE||J’Terius Brown||6’3″, 245||26 tackles, 6 TFL, 3 sacks|
|OLB||Josh Dooley||6’0″, 227||87 tackles, 2 TFL, 3 PBU, 1 FR|
|MLB||Kent Kern||6’1″, 229||98 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 PBU|
|OLB||Tyler Tucker||6’2″, 220||50 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 PBU|
|CB||Heath Harding||5’10″, 178||56 tackles, 3 TFL, 4 PBU, 3 INT|
|CB||Lo Wood||5’11″, 185||10 tackles, 1 TFL (at ND)|
|FS||Brison Burris||5’11″, 190||75 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 4 PBU, 1 INT|
|SS||Jay Mastin||6’2″, 214||62 tackles, 1 TFL, 3 PBU, 1 INT|
Miami’s defense fared slightly better than its offense in 2013, but not by much. It ranked 115th nationally in total defense (484.3 ypg), 113th in rush defense (223.3 ypg), and 105th in pass defense (260.9 ypg). The Redhawks allowed third down conversions at a rate of 48.2 percent, good for 121st nationally, and sacked the quarterback just 13 times all season, tied for 118th nationally.
Seven starters return on the defense, but the best player from last year’s defense, cornerback Dayonne Nunley, is gone. The three-time first-team All-MAC performer lead the team with 58 solo tackles and finished second in total tackles (88) and was the only Redhawk with double-digit pass breakups (13). He also recorded an interception and 2.5 tackles-for-loss. He was a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable secondary.
The good news for Martin is that he has another Notre Dame transfer, Lo Wood, who brings three years of experience — though not starting experience — with him. He played in 33 games, recording 20 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, and one interception. He’ll join an experienced secondary even without Nunley. Sophomore Heath Harding is the other corner. He recorded 56 tackles, three for loss, and lead the team with three interceptions last season. Seniors Chrishawn Dupuy and Jarrell Jones will also be in the battle to start. Both of last year’s starting safeties, senior Brison Burris and sophomore Jay Mastin, return. They combined for 137 tackles, 1.5 for loss, two interceptions, and seven pass breakups. Another guy, redshirt sophomore Marshall Taylor, could factor in. He redshirted last season after starting five of the last seven games as a true freshman in 2012 and recording 40 tackles.
The defensive line lost a pair of starters, end Wes Williams and tackle Austin Brown, but does still have some talent returning. Junior end Bryson Albright lead the team with 11.5 tackles-for-loss and five sacks. The other end, J’Terius Brown recorded six tackles-for-loss and three sacks, though he started just one game. The interior, made up of senior Mwanza Wamulumba and sophomore Jimmy Rousher, combined for 47 tackles, 3.5 for loss, and one sack. But the theme across the line is size, or a lack thereof. Albright and Brown average just 234 pounds, while Wamulumba and Rousher average just 282. Miami will need to get bigger up front if it wants to slow down opposing offenses.
There is some talent at linebacker in a trio of juniors, Josh Dooley, Kent Kern, and Tyler Tucker. Dooley ranked third on the team last season with 87 tackles and had two for loss, in addition to three pass breakups. Kern, the middle linebacker, was the team’s leading tackler with 98 tackles, five of which went for loss. Tucker added 50 tackles, 2.5 for loss. They do have to replace Chris Wade’s 79 tackles and nine tackles-for-loss.
|Position||Name, Yr.||Ht, Wt||2013 Stats|
|PK||Kaleb Patterson||5’10″, 172||7-11 FG, long 52|
|P||Drew Kummer||6’3″, 207||27.3 avg, 1 in-20|
|KR||Fred McRae||5’10″, 175||11 ret, 20.5 avg.|
|PR||Fred McRae||5’10″, 175||12 ret, 9.2 avg.|
Field goal kicker Kaleb Patterson is back after making 7-of-11 tries with a long of 52 in 2013. Punter Zac Murphy, who averaged 46.6 yards per punt, needs to be replaced and that job will likely fall to junior quarterback Drew Kummer, who punted three times last season for just 27.3 yards per. There’s a chance that Patterson could assume both duties.
In the return game, redshirt sophomore receiver Fred McRae showed potential last season, averaging 9.2 yards per punt return, although Miami’s defense didn’t force many teams to punt. He also averaged 20.5 yards per kick return.
With so much area for improvement, it’s going to take some time to rebuild. The non-conference schedule is somewhat favorable with Michigan being the only guaranteed loss. Marshall beat Miami 52-14 last season and should be even better, but Eastern Kentucky and Cincinnati should both be winnable games. That doesn’t mean Miami will win those, but it’s better than facing other power conference teams. Martin should hope for baby steps this fall, a couple of wins to start building towards the future.
What it means for Michigan
Martin is familiar with the Wolverines, but it wasn’t the Notre Dame offense that Michigan has had trouble with. It was the defense that shut Michigan down in 2012. That won’t happen in this one as Michigan’s offense will get to continue to test its running game against a an undersized line. Michigan will either be coming off its first loss of the season or a big road win at Notre Dame. In that same scenario last year, Michigan struggled with a bad — but not this bad — Akron team. The players admitted that they bought into the hype after the thrilling Under the Lights II win over the Irish and got comfortable, but don’t expect that to happen again. Michigan will roll the Redhawks like they should have done the Zips.