Miami (0-1, 0-0 MAC)
Yager Stadium, 3:30 p.m.
The Miami RedHawks were impressive, if not victorious, against Marshall in last Saturday’s opener. That won’t exactly cut it for new head coach Chuck Martin moving forward, but Martin is looking for improvement on a daily basis. A shot of confidence wouldn’t hurt either.
Coming off a year in which the RedHawks’ offense was barely showed a pulse, Miami showed significant signs of being able to move the football. Most of it came from the arm and legs of Notre Dame transfer quarterback Andrew Hendrix, who knows Martin’s system like he knows his way home to nearby Cincinnati.
Marshall was a stiff test for a RedHawks team that – deep down – wasn’t sure if it could compete. After a slow start, Hendrix and MU played much better in the second half. How well? Well enough to get some confidence heading into this week.
The RedHawks need a win to break a 17-game losing streak. They also need a win to boost their confidence heading into road games at Michigan and Cincinnati over the next two weeks.
The Colonels are a Football Championship Subdivision team coming off a .500 season (6-6, 4-4 OVC) in 2013. They opened 2014 with a 29-10 win over Robert Morris. It was 23-3 late in the third quarter, and the two teams traded touchdowns in the final stanza.
EKU held substantial advantages in a variety of stats, outgaining the hosts 624-250 overall. Most of the damage came via the ground game as Eastern Kentucky rolled up 407 yards rushing.
Dy’Shawn Mobley, a transfer from Kentucky, joined what was already a veteran backfield. He had an immediate impact, rushing 25 times for 142 yards (5.7 ypc). Senior quarterback Jared McClain showed his running skills with 90 yards on eight carries, scoring one TD and averaging 11.3 ypc. JJ Jude chipped in 84 yards on 13 rushes.
McClain completed 11 of 17 passes for 134 yards with no TDs or interceptions. Bennie Coney, a 6-2, 215-pound redshirt sophomore transfer from Cincinnati, could also see action. He completed 6 of 13 for 83 yards and one touchdown last week. However, he also threw three interceptions.
Channing Fugate led receivers with three catches for 58 yards and one TD. Devin Borders, a 6-5 receiver who was OVC Freshman of the Year in 2013, had three catches for 48 yards.
David Frazier continued a fine fall with six catches for 109 yards against Marshall. He is expected to be a key weapon in the RedHawks 3014 offense. Dawann Scott registered five caches for 42 yards and a TD while Rokeem Williams pulled in three passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. Alex Welch, also a Notre Dame transfer, had four receptions, including a touchdown. In all, five receivers had at least three catches.
Whether or not MU can develop a running game is one of the questions for 2014 and there was not a definitive answer coming out of the Marshall performance.
Marshall stacked the box at times, and Miami struggled mightily in the redzone, in part, because it couldn’t move the Herd.
Hendrix showed he could be a running threat himself, but MU would like to see less of that and more of other backfield members moving the chains. Spencer Treadwell carried nine times for 47 yards to lead the way against Marshall.
Linebacker Kent Kern paced the defense with 13 total stops, including seven solos and two sacks. DL J’Terious Jones also had two sacks among his five solos and three assists.
Junior Kaleb Patterson is a potent weapon as a kicker, and Martin indicated that in the past he has been more apt to take points on fourth down situations. He is, however, still identifying is squad’s performance on game day and also trying to establish an identity – especially in non-conference play.
Going forward, Patterson is likely to see plenty of work, and he has the leg to make MU a threat from distance. His kicks last year included field goals of 51 versus Bowling Green and 52 against Akron.