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2008 CFN Miami University Preview
Miami LB Clayton Mullins
Miami LB Clayton Mullins
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 2, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Miami University RedHawks

Miami RedHawks

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Miami Preview | 2008 Miami Offense
- 2008 Miami Defense | 2008 Miami Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Miami Preview | 2006 CFN Miami Preview 

Miami got some of its groove back after an ugly 2-10 2006 by winning a share of the MAC East and representing the division in the MAC Championship game. Even so, for one of the league's premier programs, it was an empty season
.

Not only did the RedHawks lose to Central Michigan 35-10, but by losing four of the final six games they finished 6-7 and missed out on a bowl game while Ball State and Bowling Green went off to have another game. This year the goals are different. Anything less than a MAC title and the first bowl trip in four years will be a major disaster.

Head coach: Shane Montgomery
4th year: 15-21
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 16, Def. 25, ST 5
Lettermen Lost: 15
Ten Best RedHawk Players
1. LB Clayton Mullins, Sr.
2. SS Robbie Wilson, Sr.
3. LB Caleb Bostic, Jr.
4. LB Joey Hudson, Sr.
5. P Jake Richardson, Jr.
6. OG Dave DiFranco, Sr.
7. DE Joe Coniglio, Sr.
8. WR Eugene Harris, Soph.
9. WR Dustin Woods, Jr.
10. RB Thomas Merriweather, Soph.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 28 Vanderbilt
Sept. 6 at Michigan
Sept. 13 Charleston Southern
Sept. 20 at Cincinnati
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 Temple
Oct. 11 at Northern Illinois
Oct. 18 at Bowling Green
Oct. 25 Kent State
Nov. 4 at Buffalo
Nov. 11 Ball State
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE
Nov. 21 at Toledo
Nov. 28 Ohio

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2007 Record: 6-7

8/30 at Ball State W 14-13
9/8 at Minn. L 41-35 3OT
9/15 Cincinnati L 47-10
9/22 at Colorado L 42-0
9/29 Syracuse W 17-14
10/6 at Kent State W 20-13
10/13 Bo. Green W 47-14
10/20 at Temple L 24-17
10/27 at Vandy L 24-13
11/3 Buffalo W 31-28
11/14 Akron W 7-0
11/24 at Ohio L 38-29
MAC Championship
Dec. 1 Central Michigan L 35-10

However, for a team with so much returning experience and so much talent and MAC star power, especially on defense, there has to be a concern over a weak offense that didn't appear to be appreciably better this off-season. After averaging a mere 19 points per game, more red flags shot up in spring ball when QB Daniel Raudabaugh didn't take the job by the horns and the big plays were few and far between. Of course, the problems could have come from having to face a defense that should be a brick wall.

The linebacking corps is good enough to play with anyone in the country. The trio of Clayton Mullins, Caleb Bostic and Joey Hudson are big, talented veterans who combined to make 345 tackles last year alone and should be the league's best linebacking unit by far. Throw in playmaking strong safety Robbie Wilson and a decent line that should get into the backfield on a regular basis and MU should be able to win any defensive battle. Now the offense has to do its part.

This is the program of Ben Roethlisberger
, but the passing game hasn't kept up the tradition and was among the least efficient in the nation last season. The offensive line was better than 2006, but it still struggled in pass protection and didn't do enough for the running game. In other words, there are holes to be filled, but none worse than other MAC teams have to deal with.

Even with all the issues, the upper-level talent is better than the top talent everywhere else in the league. Will that be enough to lead the team to the MAC title for the first time since the Roethlisberger-led 2003 team? Yeah. Central Michigan might be the defending two-time champion, but MU will likely be the team to beat.
 
What to watch on offense … the quarterback situation. Raudabaugh is a veteran who was supposed to have the total command of the attack. With an improved line, a good receiving corps, and a nice back in Thomas Merriweather around him, Raudabaugh needed to have a big spring, and didn't. The door is now open for redshirt freshman Clay Belton to step up and take the gig away. Can the coaching staff live through the young mistakes from Belton to get to the future upside? If Raudabaugh remains inconsistent, then yeah.

What to watch on defense … the health of the linebacking corps. The Mullins-Hudson-Bostic triumvirate might be special, but the defense could fall flat if they're not 100%. Bostic has a foot issue, Hudson's knee is a problem, and Mullins is banged up. The backups aren't bad, but there's a huge drop-off from the ones to the twos.

The team will be far better if … it can win every close game. Two years ago MU lost five games by seven points or fewer. Last season it was in seven games decided by a touchdown or less and won four of them. It'll have to win all the tight battles and will have to come up with all the key plays down the stretch to get through a MAC that's far better than last year.

The Schedule:
MU gets six home games for the first time in its history starting off with Vanderbilt and finishing with Ohio in what could be the game for the East title. A non-conference snoozer against Charleston Southern is forgivable considering the other three non-MAC dates are against BCS teams including road trips to Michigan and Cincinnati. Missing Akron from the East is odd while getting a strong Ball State team in Oxford is a good break. Unfortunately, going to Northern Illinois and Toledo from the West will make a sixth East title in seven years tough. The key will surviving a mid-season stretch of three road trips in four weeks.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OG Dave DiFranco. While not the splashiest player on the MU offense, the veteran left guard is the most solid. The 6-3, 303-pound All-MAC performer has been a rock on the line for the last three years moving around from tackle to guard before settling in at his current spot. He's the anchor and the veteran the offense will work around.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Clayton Mullins. Hudson is the quarterback of the linebacking corps, and the defense, from his spot in the middle. Robbie Wilson will earn all-star honors in the secondary, and strongside star Caleb Bostic is one of the MAC's best all-around defenders. While they're good, Mullins is special. The reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year is a tackling machine who can get into the backfield, cover the pass and hold up against power running teams equally well.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Daniel Raudabaugh. Belton is a great prospect who'll eventually be a great bomber, but the 2008 RedHawks are ready to win a MAC title right now. It can't happen unless there's more efficiency in the passing game. The interceptions have to be kept to a minimum, even though the defense will be good enough to clean up most of the messes, and there has to be consistent production.

The season will be a success if ... MU wins the MAC title. There's too much talent on defense, too much unleashed firepower on offense, and too much potential across the board to not be the class of the league, must less the East. Only injuries and continued inefficiency on offense can keep the RedHawks out of a second straight championship game.

Key game: Sept. 6 at Michigan. What blows up the spread attack? Great defensive line play, but having excellent linebackers also helps immensely. Assuming all the MU linebackers are healthy, there's no reason the RedHawk defense can't stop the Wolverine offense. If MU can be decent on offense and win the special teams battle, the chance will be there for an epic win that'll only boost the national profile. Even a good performance should do wonders for the team's confidence.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Red zone scores: Opponents 38 of 49 (78%) – Miami 34 of 50 (68%)
- Fumbles: Miami 23 (lost 9) – Opponents 21 (lost 14)
- Penalties: Opponents 86 for 194 yards – Miami 73 for 204 yards