2011 Miami University Preview
Miami University QB Zac Dysert
Miami University QB Zac Dysert
Posted May 10, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Miami University RedHawks

Miami Univ. RedHawks

Preview 2011

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- Miami Univ. vs. Missouri Lookahead

By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Don Treadwell
1st year: 0-0
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 21, Def. 27, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 21
Ten Best Miami Univ. Players
1. LB Jerrell Wedge, Sr.
2. QB Zac Dysert, Jr.
3. WR Nick Harwell, Soph.
4. QB Austin Boucher, Soph.
5. FS Anthony Kokal, Sr.
6. LB Ryan Kennedy, Sr.
7. LB Evan Harris, Jr.
8. CB Dayonne Nunley, Soph.
9. SS Pat Hinkel, Jr.
10. DE Jason Semmes, Jr.
2011 Schedule

Sep. 3 at Missouri
Sep. 17 at Minnesota 
Sep. 24 Bowling Green
Oct. 1 Cincinnati
Oct. 8 Army
Oct. 15 at Kent State 
Oct. 22 at Toledo
Oct. 29 Buffalo
Nov. 3 Akron 
Nov. 9 at Temple
Nov. 19 Western Michigan 
Nov. 22 at Ohio 

Miami University won 11 games from 2006 to 2009, with a 1-11 2009, and then came one of the most stunning and shocking turnarounds in recent college football history. Winning the MAC Championship, especially over a juggernaut of a Northern Illinois team, wasn't as crazy as Buffalo stunning the world in 2008, but going from miserable to champion in a heartbeat was impressive.

And now new head coach Don Treadwell inherits a heater.

Former head coach Mike Haywood did what MAC coaches are supposed to do and struck while the iron was hot, skipping town for the vacant Pitt gig. That didn't work out thanks to his legal issues, but his era is over and Treadwell is getting his shot at running his own show. No, Miami University doesn't have the pressure Al Golden will feel at the University of Miami, but with 51 letterwinners returning and 20 starters back, it'll be on the new coaching staff is 2011 is a disappointment.

There are plenty of good teams in a stronger MAC so it won't be a disaster if MU doesn't repeat, but there's no excuse whatsoever for things to fall off the map with two tremendous quarterback options in Zac Dysert and Austin Boucher, one of the league's best receiving corps, everyone back on a defensive line that spent all of last year camped out in opposing backfields, and experience and depth all across the board. While there might be new blood taking over the coaching reins, this is hardly a green staff.

Treadwell, a MU grad who spent last year at Michigan State, most notably filling in when Mark Dantonio suffered a heart attack, is the type of veteran coach and offensive mind who can add a bit more power to an offense that dinked and dunked its way to a title. He has assembled a group of grizzled veteran assistants who'll know what they're doing from the start. The coaching won't be an issue, depth won't be a problem, and the talent level is as strong as any team in the MAC.

Last year might have been the start of something big, and while it's asking a lot to be another Central Michigan and start a run of titles over a short span, the program appears to be back in place to be a player for the long haul. From 1995 to 2005, MU was among the elite of the MAC elite, highlighted by the Ben Roethlisberger-led 2003 season, and there's no reason the program can't be a shining star once again. The "Cradle of Coaches" has a head man in Treadwell who has stated time and again that this is a dream come true to be back as his school, the talent is always decent – at least at a MAC level – and there's a healthy balance of expectations, academics, and tradition that should make this the program of MAC programs. And now it's up to Treadwell to make it happen and build on what Haywood restarted.

What to watch for on offense: More balance. Michigan State didn't exactly run wild with Treadwell in command of the attack, but it had a nice blend of power and pro-style passing. The Spartans finished 16th in the nation in passing efficiency while averaging 236 passing yards per game and 152 rushing yards. Miami's offense struggled and sputtered way too much finishing 98th in the nation in scoring and 81st in yards. The passing game was fine with the short-to-midrange attack dinking and dunking the ball down the field, but the ground game was abysmal averaging under 100 yards per game. Treadwell and his staff will change that, and while the strength is in the passing game, the ground game won't be ignored.

What to watch for on defense: A killer rotation up front. All the stars are back on a defensive front that dominated in key stretches last season. The call came out to start getting into the backfield more, and the line did just that finishing 12th in the nation in tackles for loss and 24th in sacks. Now there's a tremendous rotation of options with good size on the inside, speed on the outside, and talent at the twos that means little to no dropoff from the starting four. MU won the MAC title because the defensive front came up big when it had to, and it should do even more.

The team will be far better if … the offensive line could block someone. Treadwell has said from Day One that his offense will be physical, and that starts with all the experience and all the size up front. There's excellent size at most of the spots, and there are plenty of veterans returning with almost all the top starters back and with key backups waiting in the wings, but now the production has to come. Star quarterback Zac Dysert got knocked out for the year with a lacerated spleen, and he was beaten up and battered before that. The ground game didn't get any help from a line that couldn't blast anyone off the ball.

The schedule: It'll be a battle. Toledo is loaded, Temple won't drop too much, and Ohio, as always, will be strong; MU has to go on the road to face all three of them. On the plus side, the MAC killer should once against be Northern Illinois, and it's not on the slate, while the game against a strong-looking Western Michigan squad is at home. The non-conference schedule doesn't bring any true layups with the easiest game at home against Army. Cincinnati and Minnesota are winnable if everything breaks right, and facing Missouri should be an interesting test. Considering the RedHawks opened last year at Florida, going to Columbia won't be anything to freak out over.

Best offensive player: Junior QB Zac Dysert or sophomore QB Austin Boucher. Dysert throws way too many interceptions and he has been banged up and bruised over his first two seasons, but he's NFL big, has a live arm, and has the experience to lead the way to another MAC title. Boucher already has the championship résumé, stepping in for an injured Dysert and going 4-0 with the conference title win over NIU and the bowl victory over Middle Tennessee. The RedHawks can win big with either one at the helm.

Best defensive player: Senior LB Jerrell Wedge. On a team full of veteran defenders, Wedge is the leader and star with 221 career tackles and 44 tackles for loss. He's not all that big at 5-9 and 223 pounds, but he's a big-time hitter who can play inside or out. After starring in the middle he'll work on the weakside where he can use his speed and range in space, and it'll be a shock if he doesn't hit the 100-tackle mark again with at least five sacks.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore LT John Anevski … or one of the other options on the left side of the MU line. Pass protection was a problem throughout last year, and while several players will get a shot at the left tackle job, it's Anevski's to lose after a good offseason. A guard by trade, he needs to show right away that he has the feet and the athleticism to handle the work, and if he can, he'll be a key fixture up front for the next three seasons.

The season will be a success if … Miami wins the MAC title. It's setting the bar way high for a team that got the job done offensively with smoke and mirrors, but there's too much returning experience and too much talent to not shoot for a second straight championship. More realistically, getting a bowl bid and a winning season would be good enough, but it'll be hard for this team of veterans to think any lower than a title.

Key game: Nov. 9 at Temple. The East is the far weaker of the two divisions and it should be a two-game season for the RedHawks. Temple isn't as strong as it's been in recent years, but it's still a November road game and it'll still be a fight. Win in Philadelphia and the date at Ohio in the regular season finale should be for all the marbles. Lose to the Owls, and it might be an uphill climb to take the East title.

2010 Fun Stats:
- 1st Quarter Scoring: Opponents 104 – Miami Univ. 63
- Fumbles: Opponents 26 (lost 14) – Miami Univ. 17 (lost 9)
- Fourth Down Conversions: Opponents 11-of-25 (44%) – Miami Univ. 4-of-16 (25%)

- 2011 Miami Univ. Preview | 2011 Miami Univ. Offense
- 2011 Miami Univ. Defense | 2011 Miami Univ. Depth Chart
- Miami Univ. Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006