Miami University Preview 2006 - Offense
Posted Aug 7, 2006

Miami University RedHawks Preview 2006 - Miami Offense

What you need to know ... The RedHawks threw for a ton of yards last year finishing 15th in the nation, but the attack was inconsistent and wasn't as good running the ball as it should've been. Now the line has to replace three All-MAC starters, top receiver Martin Nance, and for good and bad, veteran quarterback Josh Betts. Expect more from the ground game with an excellent stable of backs led by All-MAC candidate Brandon Murphy. The receiving corps is big, but a bit untested outside of flashy veteran Ryne Robinson. The line will be fine as long as the starting five is healthy; there's no depth whatsoever. The quarterback situation will be an ongoing saga all summer long with mobile veteran backup Mike Kokal getting the first crack at the gig.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Mike Kokal
6-11, 30 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Brandon Murphy
226 carries, 1,070 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Ryne Robinson
75 catches, 1,119 yds, 8 TD

Star of the offense: Senior WR Ryne Robinson
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Mike Kokal
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore TE Tom Crabtree
Best pro prospect: Sophomore OT Dave DiFranco
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Robinson, 2) RB Brandon Murphy, 3) OT Charlie Norden
Strength of the offense: Running backs
Weakness of the offense: Offensive line depth

There are some big shoes to fill by the new starter following up after Ben Roethlisberger and the MAC's leading passer last year, Josh Betts. Mike Kokal is the most experienced of the group (though not that experienced) and has the most mobility, but he's hardly a lock to win the job for the opener with talented Jared Elliott in the mix and good-looking third stringer Daniel Raudabaugh getting their chances to be the main man. MU doesn't rotate its quarterbacks, so the starter will likely be the number one all year.
The key to the unit: Quickly determining the starter and the overall pecking order.
Quarterback Rating: 5.5

Projected Starter
- Mike Kokal, Jr. - 6-11, 59%, 30 yds, 1 INT
It's Kokal's gig to lose. The backup to Josh Betts last year saw a little bit of action in mop up duty last year, mostly against Buffalo. At 6-2 and 192 pounds he's not as big as Betts or former MU star Ben Roethlisberger, but he can do something that those two couldn't: run. Kokal is more than just mobile; he should be able to provide a dangerous rushing element missing at quarterback over the last few years. He has the tools and a little bit of experience, but now he has to put it all together.

Top Backups
- Jared Elliott, Soph.
At 6-5 and 217 pounds, Elliott is a big, strong, pure passer who'll get every shot at winning the starting job. While he might not be the runner Mike Kokal is, he isn't a statue. He missed most of last year with a shoulder problem, but he's healthy and he knows the offense.

- Daniel Raudabaugh, RFr.
Last year's scout team quarterback will spend this season battling for the starting job, but he'll likely be the number three man in the mix. At the very least, he'll get more reps and more work to develop as the starter for the future. He's a nice passer with a good arm and a 6-4, 205-pound frame.

Running Backs
This could be the MAC's best group of running backs if everyone stays healthy. Injuries were the big issue last season, but now there's a nice mix of speed, quickness and power with 1,000-yard starter Brandon Murphy providing all three. Jimmy Murray and Jimmy Calhoun are solid backups, Austin Sykes brings the thunder, and Andre Bratton could be the bolt of lightning adding yet another dimension to the offense.
The key to the unit: Staying healthy. Everyone got nicked or dinged last year, but if everyone is there to be used, MU will have a tremendous ground game.
Running Back Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- Brandon Murphy, Jr. - 226 carries, 1,070 yds, 4.7 ypc, 9 TD, 18 catches, 159 yds, 8.8 ypc
A bit of an unheralded back last year earning second team All-MAC honors, Murphy is one of the league's most dangerous backs. He went on a great run of 100-yard games last year highlighted by a 184-yard day against Akron followed up by a 173-yard game against Eastern Michigan. Even though he's only 5-8 and 189 pounds, he's not afraid to pound the ball when needed. However, he's at his best when he gets the ball in space and is able to take off. He's also a strong receiver finishing fourth on the team, but he has to make more big plays in the passing game.

Top Backups
- Jimmy Murray, Sr. - 50 carries, 266 yds, 5.3 ypc, 4 TD, 5 catches, 22 yds, 4.4 ypc
The former defensive back has grown into a decent backup finishing second on the team in rushing yards last year while averaging an impressive 5.3 yards per carry. At 6-2 and 212 pounds, he offers more power than starter Brandon Murphy and can carry the full workload when needed. He ran 23 times for 113 yards and a touchdown against Ohio in his only start last year.
- Jimmy Calhoun, Soph. - 57 carries, 187 yds, 3.3 ypc, 1 TD, 2 catches, 11 yds
A good-sized back with excellent speed, Calhoun has to stay healthy after struggling with injuries all of last year. He was the team's third leading rusher last year, but was second in carries getting most of his work in the first three games and the final four games.
- Austin Sykes, Jr.
MU doesn't use a fullback all that much, but the 239-pound Sykes could certainly be one. He's a pure power back who'll only see time in short yardage situations. He missed all of last year with academic problems and he has to prove he can stay healthy.
- Andre Bratton, RFr.
The offense needs to find a place for Bratton, who has some of the best wheels in the running back corps. He was hurt last year, but he's back to add more flash to the mix.
- Fullback Matt Vogele, Sr. - 2 catches, 5 yds, 1 TD
Miami doesn't use a fullback all that often, but when it does it'll use the 241-pound tight end/blocker. While he won't get many carries, he does have the hands to be an effective receiver.

Gone is leading receiver Martin Nance, who took with him 81 catches for 1,107 yards and 14 touchdowns, but there's a lot of good returning talent to get excited about. Ryne Robinson has to go from being a dangerous deep threat of a number two man to a go-to target
, while Josh Williams and a combination of Patrick O'Bryan and E.J. Morton-Green have to make up for the loss of Nance. With the exception of Robinson on the outside, this is a big corps that should be able to overpower most secondaries. There's almost no returning experience at tight end, but Tom Crabtree and Jake O'Connell are extremely promising receivers.
The key to the unit: Finding a steady number two receiver alongside Ryne Robinson and developing a good rotation.
Receiver Rating: 6

Projected Starters
- Ryne Robinson, Sr. - 75 catches, 1,119 yds, 14.9 ypc, 8 TD
Robinson is back as one of the MAC's most dangerous all-around players with a 167 career catches for 2,519 yards and 14 touchdowns to go along with being one of the nation's best punt returners. He's not all that big at 5-10 and 169 pounds, but he can really, really move. More of a kick returner than a receiver early in his career, he blossomed last season as the number two man behind Martin Nance. Now he'll be the number one target, but he missed spring ball playing baseball for the RedHawks. 

- Josh Williams, Sr. - 19 catches, 308 yds, 16.2 ypc, 2 TD
The 6-2, 222-pound Williams is a big-play receiver for his size averaging 19.2 yards per catch two years ago and 16.2 yards per grab last season. He's the team's most physical receiver able to make plays across the middle, but he needs to get the ball more after finishing third on the team with 19 catches in 2005.

- Patrick O'Bryan, Jr. - 9 catches, 114 yds, 12.7 ypc
At 6-1 and 200 pounds, O'Bryan is a nice-sized receiver with great quickness on the outside. He started to make a little bit of an impact last year, but he'll end up combining at one of the starting slots with E.J. Morton-Green this season.

- Tight end Tom Crabtree, Soph. - 1 catch, 2 yards
The only tight end on the roster with any experience, the 6-5, 224-pound sophomore is a terrific athlete who could grow into a 40-catch type of receiver. He has spent most of his time on special teams, but he appears ready to be a big-time addition to the offense.

Top Backups
- R.J. Corbin, Sr. 14 catches, 111 yds, 7.9 ypc, 1 TD
There's nothing spectacular about the 6-1, 203-pound Corbin, but he has been a solid contributor with 75 career catches. His production has decreased each season catching 14 balls last year after making 26 in 2004 and 35 in 2003, but last year's problems were due to injuries. He'll push for time behind Josh Williams on the inside.
- Ryan Busing, Sr. - 12 catches, 116 yds, 9.7 ypc
The former quarterback is a big, reliable target at 6-3 and 200 pounds. He's not going to make many deep plays and he only has two career touchdown catches even with 51 catches in three years. He'll rotate with Josh Williams and R.J. Corbin on the inside.
- Marcus Tate, Sr. - 4 catches, 28 yds
The former defensive back got plenty of practice time on the outside with Ryne Robinson playing baseball this spring. He's not going to outmuscle anyone at 5-8 and 150 pounds, but he's next to impossible to cover one-on-one thanks to his quickness.
- E.J. Morton-Green, RFr.
One of the team's most interesting prospects, Morton-Green is 6-4 and 205 pounds with fantastic all-around skills. He spent last year tearing up the scout team, and now he'll push for time on the outside adding more size than Patrick O'Bryan.
- Tight end Jake O'Connell, Soph.

The only question with O'Connell is whether or not he can stay healthy. He's a speedy wide receiver turned into a tight end, but he'll have to prove he can be physical enough to handle the work in the running game.

Offensive Linemen
While there's no reason to go into full-blown panic mode, the line could be a problem early on if injuries strike. Only two starters return, but the three new faces all have plenty of talent and should keep things rolling in pass protection. The line didn't do much for the running game last year with a veteran line full of all-star talent, so don't expect much to happen right away. As far as depth .... uh, no.

The key to the unit: Stay healthy. The backups need at least a year to develop. This is a young line that should be a killer in 2007.
Offensive Line Rating: 5.5

Projected Starters
- OT Dave DiFranco, Soph.
The 323-pound former tight end will now take over the left tackle spot full time after seeing plenty of work last year. He's not just big, he's extremely athletic with the potential to grow into the line's best all-around blocker once he puts everything together.
- OG Steve Meister, Jr.
A good, veteran blocker who has been around the starting mix for the last two seasons, his experience will be key to the young line. He's a decent player at left guard with good size at 6-2 and 293 pounds, but he's not an anchor and isn't a dominator.
- C Steve Kosky, Sr.
Kosky has worked his way into the starting lineup after coming to Miami as a walk-on tight end. He has been the understudy behind Todd Londot over the last few years at center, and now he's ready to take over. He's a bit undersized at 274 pounds, but he's a decent athlete.
- OG Matt McKeown, Soph.
McKeown is only 275 pounds, but he hits like a ton of bricks and will be one of the line's most tenacious blockers. He'll get the start at right guard, but he can play center if needed.
- OT Charlie Norden, Jr.
This is the third year as a starter for the 6-6, 314-pound junior after playing a little bit at guard early in his career before moving to tackle. Even with all his experience, he's still seen as an unpolished gem needing to use all his tools from his size to his good feet to become the star of the line.

Top Backups
- G Pete Walters, Jr.
One of the only reserves with any experience, the 6-6, 313-pound Walters is a bigger option at right guard than the 275-pound Matt McKeown. He's not nearly the athlete McKeown is.
- T Jon Buckman, Jr.
At 330 pounds, the JUCO transfer is a huge boost to the depth of the line as the biggest player listed on the two-deep. He's expected to be a top pass protector right away.

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