2007 Miami University Preview

Posted Apr 3, 2007

One of the bigger disappointments of last year, Miami University, with a healthy Brandon Murphy back, could pull one of the nation's biggest turnarounds and become a star of the MAC again.

Miami RedHawks

Preview 2007

By Pete Fiutak

- 2007 MU Offense Preview | 2007 MU Defense Preview
2007 MU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Miami Preview 

Miami was of the MAC’s premier programs with 12 straight winning seasons while being in the conference title hunt year in and year out. And then came 2006 going 2-10 on the way to becoming one of the nation’s biggest disappointments.

Last season might have been an aberration considering it was a major rebuilding year, but head coach Shane Montgomery needs to turn things back around in a big hurry or risk being lapped for good by rising league powers like Ohio and Central Michigan. The overall talent level is as good as anyone in the conference, and now the team has to play like it.

Head coach: Shane Montgomery
3rd year: 9-14
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 19, Def. 18, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 16
Ten Best RedHawk Players
LB Joey Hudson, Jr.
2. QB Mike Kokal, Sr.
3. RB Brandon Murphy, Sr.
4. CB Jerrid Gaines, Sr.
5. SS Robbie Wilson, Jr.
6. LB Clayton Mullins, Jr.
7. DE Joe Coniglio, Jr.
8. P Jake Richardson, Jr.
9. DE Craig Mester, Sr.
10. WR Dustin Woods, Soph.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6

Aug. 30

at Ball State

Sept. 8

at Minnesota

Sept. 15


Sept. 22

at Colorado

Sept. 29


Oct. 6

at Kent State

Oct. 13

Bowling Green

Oct. 20

at Temple

Oct. 27

at Vanderbilt

Nov. 3


Nov. 14


Nov. 24

at Ohio

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2006 Record: 2-10

Preview 2006 predicted wins

8/31 Northwestern L 21-3
9/9 at Purdue L 38-31 OT
9/16 Kent State L 16-14
9/23 at Syracuse L 34-14
9/30 at Cincinnati L 24-10
10/7 Northern Illinois L 28-25
10/14 at Buffalo W 38-31
10/21 at Akron L 24-13
10/28 Ball State L 20-13
11/4 at Western Mich L 27-24
11/15 at Bowling Green W 9-7
11/24 Ohio L 34-24

The offensive line was beleaguered by injuries playing horribly from the opening kickoff, and everything fell apart from there. The defensive line was no prize, the ground game was non-existent, and MU managed to lose close game after close game with the only two wins coming over Buffalo and Bowling Green by a total of nine points.
Losing five games by seven points or fewer, the RedHawks were always in the hunt, they just couldn’t put together the key drive, the game-changing play, or the big stop when needed. With several players back in the mix after taking a year off to work on academics, and most of the starters returning on both sides of the ball, this could easily the MAC’s biggest turnaround team if it’s more physical up front.

MU’s line almost got QB Mike Kokal killed allowing 49 sacks, and never opened up any holes for the running game. For good and bad, five players with starting experience return along with all the running backs, so if the experience can turn into cohesiveness on the ground, and if a good number one receiver (possibly Dustin Woods) can be found, the offense should be better immediately. That might be enough to translate into another winning season, and in the weak East, a shot at a third MAC championship appearance in five years.
What to watch on offense … A far better running game and a far weaker passing attack. Brandon Murphy, Andre Bratton and incoming freshman Thomas Merriweather should form a tremendous backfield that’ll carry the offense in stretches if/when the offensive line is better. Mike Kokal is a good passer who might be special one he gets more than two seconds to throw the ball; a luxury he never had last year.

What to watch on defense … The defensive line has to be far, far better. It didn’t get into the backfield, rarely got to the quarterback, and got swatted around by anyone who could run the ball. While there’s not a lot of bulk, there’s plenty of experience with eight veterans returning to form a good rotation to keep everyone fresh. Craig Mester and Joe Coniglio have to go from being pass rushing specialists to all-around ends, but as long as they can get to the quarterback, the defense will be fine.

The team will be far better if … it can score. Once again, it all comes down to an offensive line that was never healthy. Known for having one of the MAC’s most explosive attacks over the last decade, MU only averaged 18.5 points per outing and was held to 17 or fewer in seven of the 12 games.

The Schedule: It sets up well for a regular-season ending showdown with Ohio for, possibly, the East title. The RedHawks get Akron and Bowling Green at home, but have to go on the road to face Kent State. Missing Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Toledo from the West is a big plus. The non-conference schedule is typically tough going on the road to face Minnesota, Colorado and Vanderbilt, but Syracuse and Cincinnati have to come to Oxford. The only two-game homestand comes late playing Buffalo and Akron with ten das off before facing the Bobcats.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Mike Kokal. One of the most mobile quarterbacks MU has had in a long time, the senior combines a good, accurate arm with dangerous running skills. He never got a chance to show what he could really do playing behind a decimated line, but now he should get more time to work and should quickly become an All-MAC caliber star.

Best Defensive Player: Junior LB Joey Hudson. Not just the team’s leading tackler, Hudson picked off five passes and made plays all over the field in his first season starting in the middle. He can drop into coverage in a hurry and is a blur into the backfield when he gets an opening. If he plays like he did last year, he’ll be in the hunt for MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore WR Dustin Woods. Ryne Robinson made 97 of the team’s 241 catches for 1,178 yards and eight touchdowns. Woods was second with 25 grabs. A superior home-run hitter, Woods has to fill Robinson’s role as a number one target Kokal can rely on. The receiving corps has other speedsters and a good possession receiver in Sean McVey. Woods has to do a little of everything. 

The season will be a success if ... MU wins the East. It’s not going to be easy with the road dates at Kent State and Ohio in the way, but if the lines are better, the offense is more efficient, and the defense can start to hang on in close games, a huge turnaround is possible, and expected.

Key game: Nov. 24 at Ohio. If all goes according to plan, and if the team has improved as expected, MU should be able to get through most of the MAC schedule without too much of a problem. Even a loss or two should be fine as long as there’s a win over the defending East champions in the regular season finale.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Opponents 72 – Miami University 23
- Sacks: Opponents 49 for 268 yards – Miami University 20 for 153 yards
- Penalties: Opponents 83 for 708 yards – Miami University 69 for 656 yards

Related Stories
2007 Miami University Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 3, 2007
2007 Miami University Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 3, 2007
2007 Miami University Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Apr 3, 2007

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