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2005 MAC Football Pigskin Preview
Josh Betts returns after passing for 3,495 yards and 23 TDs in his first season as a starter. Betts ran the offense very well last season as Miami ranked 13th nationally in total offense and he passed for at least 200 yards in 12 of his first 13 career starts. Betts still needs to be more consistent in recognizing defenses. The #2 spot is a battle between Mike Kokal, who saw limited action in 2004, and redshirt freshman Jared Elliott. Kokal saw limited action in four games during his redshirt freshman campaign, completed 9-of-16 passes for 102 yards but was intercepted twice. Elliott looks like a young Ben Roelishberger - a promising redshirt freshman with good size (6-5 220-pound) and has excellent mobility for his size along with a strong arm. The RedHawks are very solid with at QB.
Miami graduated its top two rushers last season and returns only one player with game experience. While experience could be a problem, Miami's RB unit should have a high level of explosiveness with big-play abilities. Strongsville native Brandon Murphy opens the spring as the starter but could be challenged by sophomores Akim Lannaman and Cory Jones along with Jimmy Calhoun. Murphy emerged late last season rushing for 248 yards and four touchdowns on just 48 carries. He has strength and size while maintaining his 4.45/40 speed. Murphy also is a treat to catch the ball in the flat. Lannaman has more size 6-2 219-pounds and impressive speed at 4.45/40. Cory Jones has yet to carry the ball in a game but certainly looks the part. Jimmy Calhoun is another untested but quality athlete in the mix. The new coaching staff may use the fullback more in 2005 to give it more options in the run game, something they haven't used much of over the past few seasons. Matt Vogele, a converted LB, played at tight end and fullback last season while Nick DeBartolo is another solid option
Martin Nance is a big target who led Miami in receiving through the teams' first five games of 2004 before suffering a season ending injury during the 5th game. In 2003, Nance ranked fourth nationally in receiving yards per game and with continued development he will likely be a first day selection in the 2006 NFL draft. Ryne Robinson can flat out fly and has the ability to produce big yardage after the catch. He led MU last season with 64 receptions for 934 yards and is the reigning MAC Special Teams Player of the Year as he leads all active players nationally with 1,201 career punt return yards. R.J. Corbin is a steady receiver and ranked third on the team last season with 26 catches for 319 yards. Josh Williams had 21 catches for 402 yards with a team-best, 19-yards per grab. Ryan Busing has seen extensive action over the past two seasons and improved year. Patrick O'Bryan, Marcus Tate, Dave Koval, Sean McVay, and Dustin Woods provide tremendous depth for the RedHawks. At TE, Miami returns its top two players from 2004 season and welcomes a large cast of newcomers. Dan Tyler returns as the starter while part-time starter Tyler Vogel is the back up. Tyler was banged up late last season but who has proven he can be effective when healthy. Vogel saw significant action last season. Justin Davis, Tom Crabtree, Jake O'Connell and Pat Shepard provide depth.
A significant strength of the offense where four of five starters return from a year ago, including three seniors. Two-time all-MAC pick Todd Londot is slated to move back to center after a year at tackle. Overall depth is a concern this fall. Todd Londot is a four-year starter who has earned all-MAC honors each of the past two seasons. He is a preseason candidate for the Outland and Remington Trophies. Mark Kracium is a strong, athletic player who enters this season having started Miami's last 16 games. Nate Bunce is Miami's biggest offensive lineman at 337-pounds. Charlie Norden is a second-year starter. Steve Meister is the final starter. Matt McKeown, Dave DiFranco, Pete Walters, Steve Kosky, Branden Armstrong, Jon Pereiro & Josh Satterthwait provide untested depth. Historically Miami has one of the MAC's best offensive lines and this year should be no different as their top-10 linemen average 6-5 302-pounds per man.
Marcus Johnson returns after earning first-team all-MAC honors last season. Johnson led Miami with 7.5 quarterback sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss and ranked fifth on the team with 54 tackles. Jarrod Rich started 11 games at defensive end last season, missing two starts with injury. He is a strong player with a bench press of 435 lbs, and versatile enough to play either DE or DT. John Glavin was a part of a three-man rotation at defensive tackle last season is listed as a starter this year. He earned one 'MAC Defensive Player of the Week' award last season after getting in on three sacks of Akron's Charlie Frye. Tranaine Sills and Craig Mester, who have both demonstrated strong pass-rushing skills, at DE. Sills has shown potential but has been plagued by injuries. Mester tallied 5 QBs sacks in 2004. Otto Linwood is huge (6-1, 317) offers good run support while Mike Barz is a proven veteran of the program. Overall there is good size, speed and athleticism along the defensive trenches. Miami will have one of the better "D-lines" in the MAC this season. MU gave up an average of 77-yards per game on the ground in 2004 and just 5 rushing TDs.
Without a doubt, the LB corps is a team strength for the RedHawks. Miami returns three senior starters who have all started games in each of the past three seasons. Also a very deep position in which five of the top six players are seasoned seniors and the sixth is a veteran junior. John Busing and Terna Nande are returning all-conference honorees. In fact, Nande is the favorite to win the MAC Defensive Player of the Year award this season. Nande is a freak of nature with a bench presses of 500 lbs. with 4.45/40 speed in his 6-1 228-pound frame. He ranked third on the team with 86 tackles last season with 9 tackles for loss. John Busing is a three-year starter is Miami's top returning tackler with 93 stops last season including 6.5 tackles for loss. Derek Rehage is the MLB possesses excellent speed and size - ranked fourth on the team with 79 tackles and led all linebackers with 4.5 QB sacks. Bryan Tyson saw extensive action last season on passing downs and on special teams adds proven experience. David Hutzelman, Dontae Wright, Joe Coniglio, Clayton Mullins, and Chris Shula provide depth. Overall this is the MAC's top LB unit entering the season.
Despite graduating two senior all-conference picks, Miami returns some quality playmakers to its secondary. Darrell Hunter enters his third season as a starting corner back, while the RedHawks' remaining three CBs on the depth chart all have good experience. At safety, the RedHawks return Steve Burke and Joey Card, who both have starting experience but are coming off injuries in 2004. Hunter is the fastest player in program history, clocking a 4.32/40, has good size for the position and is a legitimate NFL prospect. He is replacing 2005 NFL draft pick prospect Alphonso Hodge. Burke produced more than 100 tackles during his sophomore year. Card is slated as Miami's starting strong safety after starting four games last season at free safety before suffering a season-ending hand injury. Ryan Redd is projected as a starting corner back after seeing extensive time as a backup of the past two seasons. Frank Wiwo, Jerrid Gaines, Robbie Wilson, Jeff Schroeder, Tersee Nande, & Bryan Roland add depth. Overall there is a lot of speed and proven skills within the defensive backfield. Miami did give up an average of 232-yards per game through the air with 16 TDs. This must change if Miami wants to play for a championship again this season.
The RedHawks lost half of its two-man placekicking rotation with the graduation of Jared Parseghian and must replace punter Mike Wafzig, who had started the previous four seasons at Miami. Todd Soderquist gets his first season as the RedHawks' full-time PK while promising Jacob Richardson takes over at punter. Soderquist has handled Miami's kickoff duties for the past three seasons and who has seen action as Miami's PK over the past two years - has converted 10-of-14 career FGs. Richardson enters the season as Miami's starting punter is a native of Oxford, Ohio. Ryne Robinson is the best punt return specialist in the country.
Miami may have had a coaching change with Terry Hoeppner moving to Indiana, but the RedHawks have consistently recruited well and the new regime has lots of fire-power on both sides of the ball. Miami will have one of the best offensive lines and WR units in the league. Quarterback play is solid while some unproven players need to step up immediately at RB. Defensively Miami is rock solid at DL & LB. Their DBs will need to produce better results though with pass-happy teams like Bowling Green on their schedule. Speaking of schedule, there are three "big" conference games for Miami that will determine if they play for a third-straight MAC championship game. A mid-season road trips to NIU on ESPN will determine if the RedHawks are unbeaten in MAC play with they host Bowling Green in week #10. A season finale at long time rival Ohio University with new coach Frank Solich may be the game that determines if Miami goes bowling or not. Without question, this is one of the most talented teams in the league this year with a real shot at a championship in 2005.
Mark it down!
Miami will not beat Ohio State but they will push the Buckeyes to the very brink. Last season OSU beat the MAC's 6th place team – Marshall – on a last second FG. This years Miami squad is much better than that Marshall team, but the Buckeyes always seem to find a way to beat their MAC foe. If Ohio State is looking past the RedHawks to their contest with Texas then look out – this game could become another monumental upset by Miami adding to their storied football history.
@ Ohio State- LOSS
vs. Central Michigan - WIN
@ Kent State - WIN
vs. Cincinnati - WIN
@ Northern Illinois - LOSS
vs. Akron - WIN
@ Eastern Michigan - WIN
@ Temple - WIN
vs. Buffalo - WIN
vs. Bowling Green - WIN
@ Ohio - LOSS
8-3 Overall, 6-2 MAC