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Week 5, Miami (OH): Opponent Overview

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 21 Miami OH at Ohio State Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

General:

The Miami (OH) Redhawks roll into Saturday’s matchup with the Buffalo Bulls looking to get back to winning after starting 1-3 due to a brutal out-of-conference slate. The Redhawks three losses came on the road vs. #20 Iowa, #6 Ohio State, and against a strong AAC team in Cincinnati. The Redhawks did beat FCS Tennessee Tech 48-17 in their lone home game thus far. Their non-conference slate has yet to provide a true “toss-up” game that can be a measure of the strength of this Miami squad, but they will get one on Saturday as just two point favorites at home against the Bulls.

This MAC East rivalry has been played 21 times, since the first matchup back in 1951. Miami (OH) leads the all-time series 14 to 7, however the Bulls won the last meeting, 51-42 last October.

Offense:

The Miami (OH) offense has been led by true freshman QB Brett Gabbert, the younger brother of NFL QB Blaine Gabbert. It was reported that Gabbert was injured against Ohio State last week, and was replaced by QB Jackson Williamson. It’s unclear how much of the replacement was caused by injury as opposed to ineffectiveness, and who will be behind center starting on Saturday. Given the defenses that Gabbert has faced, it’s difficult to extrapolate much information on how he will fair against the Bulls, but he’s had issues with accuracy so far this season.

Out wide Gabbert has five targets that have recorded between 75 and 113 receiving yards this season, providing a balanced passing attack for the Redhawks. The receiving group is headlined by returning third team all-MAC WR Jack Sorenson, who leads the team with 11 receptions in 2019.

On the ground Miami has not been able to get much of anything going in 2019. The Redhawks have given carries to six different RBs looking for an answer, but Miami has only managed 2.6 yards per carry this season. This number is likely deflated from what can be expected during the MAC season due to having faced talented Iowa and Ohio State front sevens, however it is an area of concern for the Redhawks. In addition to improving the run game, the Redhawks offensive line will have to do a better job of protecting their QB, after giving up five sacks last week, and 11 on the season.

Defense:

The Miami (OH) defense is currently 124th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 41.5 points per game. Yardage wise, the Redhawk defense has been reasonably good given the fact that they’ve played the third most difficult strength of schedule nationally. The Redhawks have allowed 6.1 yards per play, which places them in a tie for 100th in the nation. For reference, the Buffalo defense has allowed 5.6 yards per play, good for a tie for 76th in the nation, against the 45th most difficult schedule. The Redhawks have also managed a +2 turnover margin through four games.

The disparity between the yardage allowed and the amount of points they have given up is largely a result of the Redhawks offense/special teams leaving the defense defending a short field. Additionally, when left in these positions the Redhawk defense has struggled to make stands inside the redzone, giving up touchdowns on 75% of opponent redzone trips, and giving up scores on 85% of redzone trips. Again for reference, the Bulls have allowed TDs on 40% of opponent redzone trips, and scores on 70%.

Closing Thoughts:

This game will be the clearest measure of the 2019 Miami Redhawks, and their performance in big time games with a true freshman QB this season shouldn’t be too heavily weighted when skimming box scores. Miami’s defense is solid and will keep this game close. This game could come down to whichever freshman QB makes less mistakes.