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Blog Exchange: DK Kountry (Miami)

How this blog has flown under the radar I'll never understand. From the time I started Bull Run there are several teams that I have not found a blog for, Ohio, EMU, and Miami. I had just about given up on finding a Red Hawk Blog for an exchange when I noticed the Red And Black attack had tracked one down. Its a very impressive blog, defiantly up there with Temple Football Forever as about the best written blog I have come across for a MAC team.

With the season winding down how much improvement have you seen under Mike Haywood? Aside from a different football philosophy what else has he brought to the RedHawk and did Brad Bates made the right call?
I am fully convinced that Haywood is the right man for this job. Aside from the obvious changes in team culture and coaching philosophy, a significant contribution has been player development. Haywood pretty much decided to start from scratch, which means many of the starting positions are filled by freshmen and sophomores. While this committed the RedHawks to a very literal re-building season, the team should see huge dividends from this investment in seasons to come as these players already have a full season of development and familiarity with Haywood's system. Haywood has also shown flexibility as coach. He preaches a hard-nosed, smash-mouth style that is all about running the ball and stopping the run; mid-way through the season when this clearly was not working he was willing to change the offense to a pass first attack rather than just entrench in his own principles. Miami won its first game after the switch and almost knocked off Temple as well.

Zack Dysert has been, aside form the Bowling Green game, looking like a very promising quarterback. How in the world did Haywood start the season with Raudabaugh and how is Dysert doing this spending as much time on his back as he is.
Dysert has been a tasty treat as of late but it didn't start out that way. During his first few appearances in game action he looked like a deer in the headlights. Haywood started with Raudabaugh because he wanted to ease Dysert into the starting role rather than just throw him in there against the likes of Boise and UK. As for all the sacks, those will come with all the big plays. Dysert seems extremely reluctant to just throw the ball away. Often this ends up in him making a huge play with his legs or finding an open receiver late, but it also ends in plenty of lost yards as well. He is an incredible athlete but still has a lot of adjusting to this level of play to do in addition to some maturing as both a quarterback and a leader.
I'm a big believer in playing the best schedule you can (FCS games are for chumps) even if it means you lose some games big. Given that the hawks are in a rebuilding phase how do you perceive Miami's future scheduling priorities versus what you would have them be?
I too believe in challenging yourself with the non-conference games but I also think there is a difference between playing up and playing completely out of your league. Games against Northwestern are great because it exposes you to a better team but still gives you a chance to compete. Games against Boise don't allow you to improve as much, however, because the talent gap is too wide. As of right now, Miami is scheduled to play Florida, Missouri and Cincinnati all on the road next season. Playing better teams holds some benefits but at some point this team needs to learn how to win.
Your defense seems to always play just poorly enough to lose games. While your offense is improving as time goes on the defense, even with guys like Gafford, continue to be mired in mistakes as the season goes on. Where are the real defensive problems for Miami?
The RedHawk defense cannot stop the run. This has been a chronic problem all season. A perfect example of this is the Temple game. When a team is losing with less than two minutes remaining it is pretty standard for them to implement a pass only offense in order to move the ball quickly and conserve time. But the Owls chose to run the ball because they had seen all game how porous the MU run defense is. Sure enough, Temple ripped off two double digit gains and ended up kicking a game-winning field goal. The biggest play Miami has trouble with is the zone sweep. Ohio was extremely successful with this and it seems most Miami opponents took notes and are doing the same.
Prediction: Will Miami finish their season with a win? If they win who is the hero, if the lose who is the goat?
Win or lose, Dysert will hold most of the responsibility. I know its easy to point to the quarterback as a default hero or goat but he really has dictated the overall performance of the RedHawks most of the season. If he can keep the turnovers to a minimum and make a few big plays, Miami should be able to beat the Bulls. But if Buffalo runs against the Miami D with the same success as other teams, it won't take too many mistakes for the Hawks to lose.