Defense carried much of the day Saturday as the Miami RedHawks wrapped up spring practice with a finale at Yager Stadium.
Sophomore-to-be Billy Bahl and classmate Jordan Martin took the majority of snaps during . . .
According to head coach Chuck Martin, Ragland will likely be out until at least the beginning of October following a recent injury. Several key receivers, including Sam Martin and Jared Murphy, were also unavailable. Martin, who is coming back from a late injury in 2015, hopes to be available for the 2016 opener or shortly thereafter. Murphy should be recovered in a few weeks, according to Martin.
Quarterback Jordan Martin finished Saturday with 40 yards and a touchdown on 3-of-7 passing and added another 20 rushing yards. His first completion went to Ryan Smith for 25 yards. He also drilled a TD pass to Chris Hudson during goal line situation work.
Quarterback Billy Bahl, who got the starting call for the last half of his freshman season, had his moments in spring work but struggled at times Saturday.
Overall, coach Martin emphasized, Miami quarterbacks will be called upon to not only produce, but protect the football. Turnovers were a significant problem at times last season. As the turnovers decreases, MU wins increased.
CLEANUP = MORE WIN OPPORTUNITIES
Martin also noted that the RedHawks appeared to clean up some other errors through much of their spring work, although some miscues popped up Saturday.
--“We’ ve run 1,500 snaps this spring and probably haven’t had 15 illegal procedure penalties. That alone, for our offense, makes a huge difference.”
-- “Technically, we’re better. We’re not running the wrong routes. We’re not having backs go the wrong way.”
-- “All the pieces are there. We’re going to give ourselves a chance next year if we play clean football.”
Among the RedHawks improvements was production by the running game. No small amount of credit goes to the people up front. Though young , the line is building of its late-2016 success.
“We are getting after people in the trenches to the best of our ability and to our strength level,” said Martin, adding that he expects players to be physically improved by the time fall practice opens.
“Strength is still an issue (with a younger front), but we have size, flexibility and willingness. We’ve just got to keep gaining strength and experience.”
He continued, “We’ll still have our ups and downs, but the nice thing is they understand how to win games now. All the little mistakes add up to not giving yourself a chance. If you eliminate the little mistakes, then it comes down to a play here (and) a play there. You’re going to be right in games and create 6-8 opportunities to win games.”
Local product Maurice Thomas finished Saturday with 43 yards on six carries. That included a 13-yard run for a touchdown on his first carry of 11-on-11 work.
The RedHawks have many questions regarding special teams. According to Martin, the answers will come in fall came. Solutions could come then -- or later.
“We look great in practice. We step out where it is real, and we get a little skittish.,” Martin said of MU kickers. “We’ve probably got four guys that are capable of being Division I kickers. We need somebody to step up and be a Division I kicker when everybody is watching them.”