OVERVIEW: The RedHawks are 3-3 overall and 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference, and the schedule has had its difficult and easy moments. Miami’s three losses have been blowouts against three nationally ranked opponents on the road: A season-opening 56-10 loss at Ohio State, a 39-12 loss at Boise State and a 52-14 loss at Cincinnati. The three wins have come against an FCS opponent, Southern Illinois (30-14), and two teams at the bottom of the MAC standings in UMass (27-16) and Akron (56-49).
OFFENSE: The RedHawks rank 10th in the MAC in scoring offense with their average of 24.83 points per game, and their 394.50 yards of total offense per contest ranks ninth in the 13-team league. Miami is getting it done mostly through the air, passing for 290.83 yards per contest to rank third in the conference. Senior quarterback Zac Dysert has completed 150-of-236 passes (63.6 percent) for 1,716 yards and 13 touchdowns but also has six interceptions. His favorite targets include senior Andy Cruse, who has caught 42 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns; sophomore Dawon Scott, who has 32 catches for 501 yards and five scores; and junior Nick Harwell, who has 16 catches for 181 yards despite missing three games because of injury. The RedHawks already have 15 different players who have caught at least one pass (for comparison’s sake, BG has 12). The rushing attack is led by freshman Jamire Westbrook, but he has just 198 yards rushing on 48 attempts. Dysert shoulders much of the running load, having carried the ball 50 times (many of them designed run-pass plays) for 196 net yards. The offensive line has just one senior, center Brad Bednar, and just one junior, LT Josh Harvey. Despite its youth, Miami’s offensive line has allowed just 16 sacks this season.
DEFENSE: The RedHawks defensive numbers –- like their offensive totals –- are misleading because of the high number of games against ranked opponents. Miami ranks 10th in the MAC in scoring defense (37.67 points per game) and 12th in total defense (502.50 yards per game). Leading the defense is junior LB Chris Wade, who has a team-best 63 tackles, including 4.5 per loss, this season. Second in tackles is senior LB Pat Hinkel, who has 39 stops and also leads Miami with three of its seven interceptions. Senior MLB Jaytee Swanson has 27 tackles. The defensive line is led by junior LE Wes Williams, who has 27 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss. Junior LT Mwanza Wamulumba and senior RT Mike Johns are tied for second on the team in tackles for loss with 4.0 this season, while senior RE Jason Semmes has 22 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. In the secondary, DB Dayonne Nunley is an All-MAC performer last season who this year is fourth for the RedHawks with 37 tackles, three for loss, and four passes broken up as well as an interception. Safety Brison Burris is third on the team with 38 tackles as well as three passes broken up. CB D.J. Brown has 30 tackles, while safety Marshall Taylor has made 22 stops.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The RedHawks generally do not have good numbers on special teams so far this season. Junior Zac Murphy does most of the punting and averages 40.8 yards per kick; QB Zac Dysert has “pooch” punted three times and landed all three kicks inside the opponent’s 20. Miami’s net punting mark is 36.82 yards per kick and ranks sixth in the MAC. … Freshman Kaleb Patterson does all the place-kicking. He has made 11-of-13 PAT kicks and is 6-of-8 on field goals, including a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals of 40 yards or more, with a long this season of 45 yards. … Junior Mason Krysinski has handled the majority of the kickoff duties, averaging 59.8 yards per kick and collecting touchbacks on nine of his 25 kicks. The RedHawks rank 11th in the MAC in kickoff coverage with a “net” of 39.5 yards per kickoff. … The RedHawks have returned just four punts in six games this season, with senior WR Andy Cruse listed as the starter. … Sophomore Dawon Scott has handled 15 of Miami’s 18 kickoff returns and averages 17.30 yards per return. As a team Miami ranks 12th in kickoff returns with an average of 16.67 yards.
BG KEYS TO VICTORY: 1. Dysert can dice defenses. Miami’s run game hasn’t been as strong as that of Akron, although QB Zac Dysert can present scrambling problems. The key, though, is to limit the damage Dysert does with his arm. 2. Born to run. Every team the RedHawks have played this season has been able to run the ball to some degree. A stout BG run game could open things up for a big game from the passing attack, which should help the offense -– and keep the defense off the field. 3. Special teams must be special. The RedHawks seem to be struggling in several special teams facets, most notably punt returns (94th among FBS teams nationally) and kickoff returns (111th nationally). Winning in those areas would help field position on both defense and offense, and we saw the effects field position can have on a game last Saturday in Akron.