Saturday’s Miami RedHawks loss to Eastern Illinois was particularly frustrating, according to MU head coach Chuck Martin, who is spending this week preparing for a tough rematch against Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers thrashed Miami behind one of the nation’s top passers last year. Although Brandon Doughty is gone, WKU appears to be primed for another good season in 2016.
First, MU must regroup a little – mentally, if nothing else. It wasn’t so much losing to an FCS team at home, because the school that produced quarterbacks Tony Romo and Jimmy Garropalo seems headed for a good season. The rub, according to Martin, is that Miami did just about everything a team needs to do to win a contest – except for penalties.”It’s one of the harder losses I’ve ever been a part of,” he said.
“You’re searching, as you watch that tape, how . . .
Miami did hold advantages in total yards (402-316) and time of possession (35:37-24:23). All of EIU’s damage came at the end of each half -- seven points with 57 ticks left before intermission (following MU’s only turnover) and 14 points from the 3:57 mark of the fourth period.
Particularly toward the end, Martin noted, his squad lost some of its aggressiveness. “We got back on our heels,” he said. “You just need to keep playing like you did for three quarters. … (EIU) didn’t do anything different.”
Unlike at Iowa a week earlier, Miami’s penalties – particularly late – also contributed by stymieing the RedHawks offense and keeping the Panthers moving. Ultimately, both teams finished with 22 first downs
Eastern Illinois managed to hang around – and eventually win -- largely due to the efforts of quarterback Mitch Kimble. He avoided pressure to get sacked only once and completed 21 of 36 for 174 yards and a touchdown. His 49 net yards rushing led EIU (142 yards total) and provided some key gains on the scoring drives.
“He was the type of guy that would find the open hold and just hit it,” Miami linebacker Paul Moses said after Saturday’s contest.
As for MU, the RedHawks came for the second half determined to run and, while they didn’t break anything long, did move the football. It chewed up a lot of clock, and resulted in limited possessions and mixed results.
EIU then went 80 yards in less than four minutes for one TD. Miami needed another time-consuming drive to finish off EIU, but a pair of penalties on its first snap suddenly had the RedHawks looking at 1st and 23. They were forced to punt from deep in their own end and the Panthers covered 51 yards in 1:39 for what proved to be the winning score.
● Western Kentucky dominated Miami 56-14 last season in Bowling Green. MU struggled on both sides of the ball.
- Defensively, the RedHawks had no answer for quarterback Brandon Doughty and his receiving corps, Doughty, a seventh round draft choice of the Miami Dolphins, put up huge numbers all year long and was among the top passers in NCAA FBS play. Doughty tossed five TDs in the first half alone as WKU ran up a 49-7 lead by intermission. Dughty added one more before calling it a day and the Hilltopers prevailed by a 56-14 final.
- Offensively, the RedHawks used two quarterbacks. One graduated, one is out with an injury. True freshman Billy Bahl, who took over starting duties during the second half of the season, had one of his toughest days against WKU. He completed 4 (of 11) to his fellow RedHawks and three (via interceptions) to the Hiltoppers.
● Bahl settled down some later in 2015 – at least as far as turnovers were concerned. After throwing seen picks in two mid-season contests, he tossed three interceptions (and six TDs) over the final five outings.
Still just a sophomore, Bahl has progressed. He had four touchdown passes and one interception (last week) through the first two weeks.
● Junior Mike White has stepped into the quarterback position nicely after sitting out 2015 due to NCAA transfer regulations. He spent the previous two starting for the University of South .Florida. White completed 25 of 31 passes (80.6%) for 517 yards with three TDs in the Hilltoppers opener against Rice. WKU, a Conference USA member, fell to Alabama this past weekend. White completed 10 of 24 (41.7%) for 135 yards with one interception in the loss. Just over half of the yardage came on one play.
● Senior receiver Taywon Taylor (6-1, 195) has 14 catches for 286 yards through two contests. He is, however, still looking for his first receiving TD after totaling 17 (along with 1,467 yards on 86 catches) in 2015.
● Speaking of receivers, Miami will be without sophomore Chris Hudson for the remainder of the year. He was injured early Saturday when he was hit trailing a play near the Miami bench.
● It may be a game-time decision on the availability of another Miami receiver. Rokeem Williams had a team-high eight receptions for 188 yards and one TD through two weeks. He was injured Saturday but did have one TD. Martin said the receiving unit has been one of those groups where Miami has been trying to build some depth in recent years, so others will likely be seeing increased practice reps and possible game opportunities.
Jones fought off a cut block and rose to block the pass. His off-balance momentum carried his hands into the quarterback’s head area. “He wasn’t even trying to hit the quarterback on the play,” Martin said. “It was a bizarre play … but it does (technically) meet the elements (even though) there was no intent there (to hit he quarterback.”
● Alonzo Smith leads Miami rushing, which is averaging 155 ypg so far. Going back two years, MU averaged 97.5 ypg via rushes. Of course, transfer QB Andrew Hendrix had a big year passing n 2014, but part of that was related to Miami’s difficulty running the ball. Smith has recorded 40 carries for 156 yards and one touchdown in 2016.
● MU sophomore wideout James Gardner owns three touchdowns so far. He had two against Iowa and got another Saturday against EIU.