2011 Record: (4-8, 3-5 in MAC)
Head Coach: Don Treadwell (second year head coach)
Last Bowl Game: 2010 Season GoDaddy.com Bowl: Beat MTSU 35-21
Big Name Opponents: 9/1 at Ohio State, 9/15 at Boise State, 10/6 at Cincinnati
Must Win: 9/8 vs Southern Illinois, 9/22 vs UMass
Stat to Cheer: had 145 passing plays of 10 yards or more (2nd in MAC)
Stat to Fear: gave up 47 sacks, 3.92 per game (last in the MAC and 119th in Nation)
Phil Steele's Returning Starters (Offense: 8; Defense: 8; Specialists: 2)
Key Defensive Returnees: S Pat Hinkel (70 tackles), CB Dayonne Nunley (58 tackles, 3 INT), DL Jason Semmes (4.5 sacks)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB Zac Dysert (23 TD, 11 INT), WR Nick Harwell (97 rec, 9 TD), WR Andy Cruse (43 rec, 4 TD)
The Redhawks lost their first four games of the 2011 season and then lost their last three. Sandwiched in between was a 4-1 run that included a victory over a pretty good Toledo team. The other three wins came against Akron, Army and Buffalo. They finished at 4-8 on the season after winning ten games the year before.
The question this year is can they take a step forward? They return a bunch of starters but so do other MAC teams like Bowling Green, CMU and EMU. They have to do a better job protecting Zac Dysert. Dysert was second in passing yardage in the MAC with 3513 yards but was sixth with TD passes with 23. In 2011, the Redhawks gave up 47 sacks, which was second to last in the Nation. Protecting Dysert and getting more out of the running game is critical for this season. Last year, the Redhawks gained just 886 yards on the ground and averaged a pitiful 2.36 yards per carry (last in the Nation).
On defense, they lose their top three tacklers including two linebackers from a defense that finished the year in the upper third of the MAC. I would expect Miami to be about the same on defense this year as they were consistent when compared against 2010 despite the coaching change. The biggest area of improvement they need is in generating turnovers. In 2010, the Redhawks generated 35 turnovers (21 INTs) and in 2011 they generated just 17 (10 INTs). 18 turnovers is a big deal when you look at momentum swings in college football.
Look for Miami to improve on their record this year as they failed to close out some close games last year (lost their last three games of the season by seven points or less) and they have a favorable MAC schedule not playing NIU, Toledo or WMU.
2012 Prediction: 6-6
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