2007 Miami University Preview - Offense

Posted Apr 3, 2007

Preview 2007 Miami University RedHawk Offense

Miami RedHawks

Preview 2007
- Offense

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

What you need to know: It's all about the offensive line. The front five was hit by injuries last season and the whole machine broke down with no running game, an obscene amount of sacks allowed, and not enough of a passing game. Now the line is experienced with decent depth, the running backs should be solid as long as Brandon Murphy is over his ankle problems, and Mike Kokal has the potential to be the MAC's most effective all-around quarterback. And then there's the receiving corps. With Ryne Robinson gone, there's no proven number one receiver, but there's a boatload of speed on the outside in Dustin Woods and Armand Robinson. While they'll make big plays, someone has to become a go-to guy.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Mike Kokal
208-355, 2,419 yds, 14 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Andre Bratton
63 carries, 285 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Dustin Woods
25 catches, 506 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Mike Kokal
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore WR Dustin Woods
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman WR Armand Robinson
Best pro prospect: Kokal
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Kokal, 2) RB Brandon Murphy, 3) Woods
Strength of the offense: Running backs, quarterbacks
Weakness of the offense: Wide receivers


Projected Starter: It's hard to tell how good senior Mike Kokal really is considering he never had any time to operate behind a porous offensive line. Even though he was beaten to a pulp, he completed 59% of his passes for 2,419 yards and 14 touchdown with eight interceptions. He has enough mobility to take off when he gets an opening to go along with a strong arm and a good command of the offense. It'll be interesting to see what he can do after a year as the starter and with a veteran line to work behind. 

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Daniel Raudabaugh doesn't have the mobility of Kokal, or the experience with only one start throwing for 190 yards and two interceptions against Cincinnati, but he's a good backup option. At 6-4 and 216 pounds, he has a good size to go along with a live arm.

If Raudabaugh has any hope of being the main man going into next year, or if Kokal goes down, he has to shine when given the opportunity with star-of-the-future Clay Belton pushing for the number two job. The true freshman might need a year of seasoning after missing most of his senior year of high school hurt, but when he figures out what he's doing, the 6-6, 220-pounder has the arm and talent to become a star.

Watch Out For ... Kokal to come up with a fantastic year with a few really, really big performances. With the speed at outside receiver, he'll bomb away early and often to stretch the field. As long as he gets just a little bit of time, he should have a few 300+ yard games.
Strength: Arms. All three quarterbacks can chuck the ball all over the field with Kokal having the weakest gun of the three. His mobility and experience make him a great leader for the offense, but when all is said and done a few years from now, he might be looked back on as the worst of the three.
The receiving corps. Last year Kokal didn't have a line in front of him and this year he doesn't have any experienced receivers to throw to. He has to make everyone around him better and has to spread the ball around to get everyone involved.
Outlook: The situation is solid with a good starter and talented backups. All things considered, Kokal had a phenomenal first season getting pressured on nearly every play and with no running game to help out. Now that he shouldn't have to be a one-man show, he should be more relaxed and more productive. Most MAC teams would love to have Raudabaugh or Belton under center.
Rating: 6

Running Backs

Projected Starter: All set to be a be a star after rushing for 1,070 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore, senior Brandon Murphy couldn't shake an ankle problem, and never had any room to run behind an awful offensive line, only rushing for 280 yards and a touchdown carrying the ball ten times or more just five times after rushing for ten or more carries ten times in a row, with five straight 100-yard games, in 2005. When healthy, he's a pounding runner who can carry the offense working inside and out. He can also be an effective receiver when needed. 

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Andre Bratton filled in when needed for Murphy coming up with a nice stretch of five games over the second half of the season finishing with 285 yards and four touchdowns. He's the fastest runner in the backfield and should be tremendous now that he'll have more holes to run through behind a better line.

A good receiver, he could find a role as a third-down back. 245-pound senior Austin Sykes is the pounder of the trio coming off a 224-yard, three touchdown season. While not a fullback, he could serve as one if the team needs him to and will get the tough short yards. He can be used as a tailback if he has to.

Coming this fall is Thomas Merriweather, a star prospect out of St. Louis who could've gone to a much bigger program. Quick, productive and very talented, he could become the team's main man early on.

Watch Out For ... almost double the production of last season when the RedHawks netted 1,040 yards and 11 touchdowns. Of course, the stats are a bit skewed after allowing 49 sacks, but the running backs didn't do much of anything. As long as Murphy is running like he did in 2005, that'll change.
Strength: Potential depth. MU has three good backs who could carry the workload for most MAC teams. As long as their getting good blocking, they should produce big numbers. 
Proven depth. As good as Bratton and Sykes are, the running game went into the tank went Murphy was hurt. A rotation to get everyone involved, and keep Murphy healthy, would help.
After last year's disaster, things should be much, much better as long as injuries don't strike. With Murphy's ankle healthy, MU has a trio of backs to carry the load with speed (Bratton), power (Sykes) and everything in between (Murphy). Expect this group to run for 2,000 yards and over 20 touchdowns. 
Rating: 6


Projected Starters: Sophomore Dustin Woods returns after finishing second on the team in catches making 25 for 506 yards and four touchdowns with a team-leading 20.2 yards per grab. While he wasn't a regular target, he occasionally blew up as a tremendous deep threat creaming out 178 yards and an 80-yard touchdown against Northern Illinois and 78 yards on three catches against Western Michigan. However, he only had more than three catches in two games and now has to be a number one receiver with Ryne Robinson gone. He has decent size and tremendous speed able to shine as a kickoff returner as well as a receiver.

Junior Sean McVay is a true possession receiver who runs good routes and finds the openings underneath. He only averaged 9.9 yards per catch last season finishing third on the team with 20 grabs for 198 yards, and now he has to at least double his production.

Redshirt freshman Armand Robinson is a big, very fast prospect who needs to quickly grow into a threat on the outside. He's still raw and will make several mistakes, but he has too much upside to keep off the field.

Junior Tom Crabtree started every game last season making 14 catches for 124 yards and a score. A decent blocker, the 6-5, 235-pound is an excellent athlete he needs to be involved more in the passing game.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 180-pound redshirt freshman Donovan Potter is one of the team's tallest receivers with good hands and leaping ability. He'll play behind McVay to start the season, but he could quickly find his way into the starting lineup if he produces a few big plays early.

Redshirt freshman Eugene Harris is a quick outside option starting out behind Woods. With his quickness and burst in the open field, he could eventually grow into a top kick or punt returner as well as a dangerous receiver when he gets the ball on the move.

Junior Pat Lamoncia is a former walk-on who's mainly a special teamer and will push for time behind Robinson. Junior Jake O'Connell is a former wide receiver who bulked up into an interesting 252-pound target.

While he only caught seven passes for 43 yards, he made two touchdown grabs. 6-3, 235-pound
Kendrick Bruton and 6-3, 225-pound Rob Reiland are two of the MAC's top tight end recruits and could quickly find their way into key roles in the passing game. Their blocking will be the question early on.     

Watch Out For ... the tight ends to play a bigger role. With so little experience at wide receiver, Crabtree, O'Connell, and the two star freshmen should shine until the wide receivers start to get comfortable.
Strength: Speed on the outside. If Woods and Robinson aren't the fastest receiving tandem in the MAC, they're number two. They'll stretch the field and should hit several home-runs.
Experience. Only two receivers who have a catch are back and there's absolutely no developed depth whatsoever. That's not to say there isn't good potential, but there's no sure thing going into the season.
Outlook: This group will be the main concern going into the season. Two years ago, Miami had to replace 81 catches and 14 touchdowns of production from star Martin Nance. This season, the RedHawks lose 91 catches, 1,178 yards and eight touchdowns from Ryne Robinson. Losing him is bad enough, but the passing game also loses five other receivers. The tight ends will eventually be excellent, and Woods and Robinson have the potential to be special. Now a number one target has to emerge.
Rating: 5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: All five starters return to a line that was decimated by injuries last season, had no depth, and was absolutely awful in all phases. Senior Charlie Norden could potentially be the best of the bunch starting the last four years seeing time at both guard and tackle. The 6-6 300-pound left tackle has gotten in better shape and should instantly upgrade the overall pass protection after missing the last eight games with a foot injury.

6-6, 278-pound junior Steve Sutter struggled after being thrown into the fire when linemen started going down. The former defensive end now has a year of offensive experience and should use his athleticism to be better at right tackle.

Senior Steve Meister started for three straight years seeing most of his time at guard. One of only two linemen who survived the whole year, Meister will start at center where his experience will make him a good quarterback up front, even though he's not dominant in any one area.

Sophomore Dave DiFranco started almost every game at tackle moving from the left to right side where needed, and now he'll move inside to a more natural guard position. While he has the feet to eventually grow into a decent pass protector, the former tight end should shine at left guard.

Junior Matt McKeown is a slightly undersized 271-pound guard who was never healthy all through last season. A high motor and a physical hitting style makes up for a lack of size.

Projected Top Reserves: Josh Satterthwait got pushed into time last season to try to fill in the gaps. Now the 6-4, 302-pound junior will play behind McKeown at right guard after starting the final three games. He's a former tight end who can also play tackle or center if needed.

Sophomore Zachary Marshall is a massive 6-7, 323-pound transfer from Maryland who's one of the team's strongest linemen. He'll start out as a bigger option than Sutter at right tackle, but he could quickly work his way into a starting job.

Redshirt freshman Bob Gulley is one of the team's most versatile reserves able to play anywhere up front and will start out behind DiFranco at left guard.

Junior Kyle Lovas is purely a reserve playing behind Meister at center, and the coaching staff might make some moves and do some shuffling if something happens to the starter.      

Watch Out For ... a massive improvement in overall production. With several returning starters who got their feet wet last year, the experience will mean better over all play as long as the top players stay healthy. The team's biggest weakness, and one of the MAC's biggest disappointments, might quickly become a positive.
Strength: Experience, and lots of it. All the problems from last year mean the line returns with more depth and promise than the program has had in a long time. Now there are options to play around with at several spots after a year when any live body was thrown into the mix.
There's not any one superstar. While the line will be better, this isn't necessarily going to be a phenomenal line that'll dominate. It'll be good, but there isn't a sure-thing All-MAC star to rely on for the one big block when needed.
Outlook: Last year, the one thing that couldn't happen was a string of injuries, and that's what happened as the front five allowed 49 sacks and did nothing for the running game. Fortunately, this is a versatile bunch with most of the top players able to be moved around if disaster strikes again.  The coaching staff will take its best five players and find spots for them meaning there could be big changes as some of the new options emerge.
Rating: 5.5


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