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2008 Miami University Preview - Offense
Miami QB Daniel Raudabaugh
Miami QB Daniel Raudabaugh
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 2, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Miami University RedHawk Offense

Miami RedHawks

Preview 2008 - Offense

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

What you need to know: The pieces are there for a decent season, and with the loaded defense returning, the goal will be efficiency and ball security; two things the attack didn't do last year. There's an obscene wealth of quality depth at running back and receiver, but someone has to step up in both areas and become a true No. 1. The offensive line will be fine if it stays healthy, but a slew of injuries early would bring the machine to a grinding halt. The key will be QB Daniel Raudabaugh, a big, experienced passer who has shown flashes of greatness mixed with too many interceptions.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Daniel Raudabaugh
209-382, 2,431 yds, 12 TD, 12 INT
Rushing: Thomas Merriweather
40 carries, 143 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Eugene Harris
46 catches, 542 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Senior OG Dave DiFranco
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior OT Zachary Marshall
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Jamel Miller
Best pro prospect: Senior OG Dave DiFranco
Top three all-star candidates: 1) DiFranco, 2)
WR/PR Eugene Harris, 3) WR Dustin Woods
Strength of the offense: All-around experience, receiver options
Weakness of the offense: Proven rushing production, passing efficiency

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: This was supposed to be Mike Kokal's offense, but junior Daniel Raudabaugh took over and had a nice year completing 55% of his passes for 2,431 yards and 12 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. At 6-4 and 216 pounds, he has good size and a big-time arm, but he has to cut down on his interceptions, a huge problem towards the end of the season when he threw seven in his final three games with only just two touchdown passes, and he has to be more consistent. He's just mobile enough to take off from time to time, but he's not a big runner.


Projected Top Reserves: While Raudabaugh is the likely starter, 6-5, 231-pound redshirt freshman Clay Belton isn't going to be far out of the rotation if there are any problems. The star-of-the-future missed most of his senior year of high school hurt, but he was a strong practice player and has the next-level measurables to eventually make the offense explode.

The No. 3 job is there for the taking, and is should be Zac Dysert's when he gets to school this fall. The best rushing option of all the quarterbacks, he also finished second in Ohio high school history in passing yards with 11,174 even though he missed a few games with a broken thumb. He's a spread offense quarterback who could change the way the attack is run.

Watch Out For ... Belton. The hope is for Raudabaugh to be the main man for the next two years with Belton stepping in from time to time to clean up, but if the interceptions don't slow down, the future might be now.
Strength: Arms. Raudabuagh and Belton can throw a pea through a 2x4, while Zac Dysert was one of the nation's most productive high-school passers. Throwing it around isn't a problem for this set of passers. However ...
Weakness
:
Throwing it consistently is another story. There's too much returning experience and receiver and Raudabaugh has too high a skill level for MU to be 12th in the MAC and 102nd in the nation in passing efficiency. There have to be more big shots taken down the field.
Outlook: The Miami quarterbacks could be one of the team's strengths if Raudabugh can use his two years of experienced, having started the final seven games of last year, to combine with the veteran receiving corps to start bombing away. Keeping interceptions to a minimum and being more consistent and efficient. Belton is a great backup ready to push for time, and Dysert is a good one to build around for the future.
Rating: 6


Running Backs

Projected Starter: While there will be a bit of a running back-by-committee approach, and there are several backs who'll see meaningful time, sophomore Thomas Merriweather will likely emerge as the best of the bunch. Last year's star recruit had several offers from bigger name programs, and while the hope was to redshirt him, that wasn't an option after injuries struck the running back corps. The 5-10, 203-pounder is great in short-yardage situations and was able to find the goal line four times in his limited role. He finished fourth on the team with 143 yards and averaged just 3.6 yards per carry, but he's too talented not to blossom into a star very soon.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Andre Bratton ran for 72 yards and a touchdown in a little over two games of work, but he suffered a knee injury against Cincinnati and was out for the year. One of the team's faster players and a great receiver out of the backfield, he'll be a weapon when he's 100%, but that might not be until the season starts. The most versatile back on the team, he'll play a big role as soon as he's ready.

5-11, 203-pound sophomore Jamel Miller got a little bit of work last year running for 95 yards with a touchdown against Bowling Green and served time on special teams. With good burst and nice finishing ability on his runs he could carry the load when needed, but he'll most likely end up getting a few carries here and there to keep everyone fresh.

Ready to roll from day one is top recruit Dan Green, a lightning fast back who got to school early and will be pushing for the starting job right away. Forget about the power; the 5-10, 195-pounder is about making one cut and getting loose. With his elusiveness, he'll likely be used as a receiver out of the backfield to get him the ball in space.

Watch Out For ... more yards per carry. There weren't many big runs last season and there wasn't nearly enough consistent production. Blame the injuries for the mediocre 3.8 yards per carry, and now with a slew of speedsters ready to roll, there will be more big plays.
Strength: Speed. Merriweather isn't lightning fast, but he's quick enough through the hole. Bratton, when his knee is healthy, can fly, and Green can really move. Burst out of the backfield won't be a problem. 
Weakness
:
Proven production. There really isn't any. Merriweather, Bratton and Jamel Miller have gotten a little bit of work, but no one has actually gotten it done on a regular basis.
Outlook:
After a disastrous 2006 the hope was for an improved running game that was supposed to be great if injuries didn't strike. The injury bug bit and the MU ground attack was mediocre, but it was better. Now is when it needs to shine with four good backs to form a nice rotation to keep everyone fresh. Merriweather is a great talent, Bratton is a player when healthy, and Miller and Green will get their turns at bat.
Rating: 5.5


Receivers

Projected Starters: Junior Dustin Woods has been fine over the last two years making 65 catches for 1,109 yards and five touchdowns, and his career average of 17 yards per grab is impressive. Now he has to start being a threat. He only caught one touchdown pass last season, getting shut out of the end zone over the final 11 games, and he almost never hurt a defense with a really big play. The 5-11, 187 pounder has decent size and tremendous speed, and he has to use it to become more of a playmaker. First he has to get healthy after having a shoulder problem this off-season.

The team's leading receiver last year was sophomore Eugene Harris with 46 catches for 542 yards and two touchdowns. A phenomenal athlete who can jump out of the stadium, he plays bigger than his 5-10 and 180-pound size and has cat-like quickness. The team's top punt returner, he can be a killer in the open field evidence by a 73-yard touchdown pass against Bowling Green. Making more big plays will be a must considering all his abilities.

6-2, 198-pound true sophomore Chris Givens started off well with nine catches for 185 yards and a touchdown in a two-game span against Minnesota and Cincinnati, and then didn't do too much from there finishing with 25 grabs for 430 yards and a score. He has excellent size and averaged a gaudy 17.1 yards per catch. With tremendous leaping ability, he should be more dangerous around the goal line while posing a matchup nightmare as a third receiver.

The tight end spot will see a steady rotation with 6-5, 247-pound senior Tom Crabtree getting the starting nod. While he's known for being a better blocker than a receiver, he still made 15 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown and has the athleticism to do a whole bunch more. He's been around long enough to be able to find the holes in any defense.

Projected Top Reserves:
Until Woods is 100% after his shoulder problem, 6-1, 200-pound sophomore Armand Robinson will play a big role. The team's third leading receiver made 33 catches for 471 yards and a team-leading three touchdowns. While he doesn't have tremendous speed, he make things happen when he gets the ball in his hands and he doesn't drop a thing. He's as consistent as they come.

Ready to emerge as more of an impact producer is Jamal Rogers, a flashy 5-11, 159-pound sophomore who came up with 19 catches for 173 yard and a touchdown. Even as a good backup target behind Eugene Harris, he'll make his biggest impact as a kickoff returner where he averaged 22.6 yards per try.

Working behind Givens will be 6-2, 198-pound sophomore Donovan Potter after coming up with ten catches for 81 yards. He hailed in three catches for 26 yards against Cincinnati in the third game of the season, and caught four passes for 25 yards in the MAC title loss to Central Michigan, and made just two grabs in the nine games in between.

Working along with Crabtree at tight end will once again by 6-4, 256-pound senior Jake O'Connell, a strong blocker who made 14 catches for 152 yards and two scores.
A beefed up wide receiver, he's a matchup nightmare in two tight end sets and is great around the goal line.

Watch Out For ... Rogers. He has too much speed and quickness to not come up with a lot more huge plays. He's the type of weapon who needs to have the ball in his hands in the open on a regular basis.
Strength: Experience, The team's top five receivers and seven of the top eight are back. The youth issue of last year won't be a problem this season.
Weakness
:
Consistency. The passing game put up big yardage numbers but there were only 13 touchdown passes. There's way too much speed and athleticism to not be the MAC's best receiving corps.
Outlook: The biggest concern going into last season is loaded and ready for a potentially monstrous campaign. Woods needs to emerge as the number one receiver he hasn't been yet, and Harris and Givens have to stretch the field to open things up for everyone else. The tight end combination of Crabtree and O'Connell is excellent, and the receiver depth is deep and talented. It's all there, now the production has to come.
Rating: 6.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: With top producers Steve Meister and Charlie Norden gone, the star of the show is junior left guard Dave DiFranco, a 6-3, 303-pound mauler who's athletic enough to play tackle, which he did early in his career, but is more natural on the inside. A third-team All-MAC performer, he's one of the team's toughest players having played through a banged up leg to finish out the season. Extremely strong and very agile, he's on the verge of being an even bigger all-star.

Taking over Norden's spot at left tackle will be senior Steve Sutter, a right tackle last season who'll move over to the other side to protect the quarterback's blind side, but could move back if there's a left-handed passer. Dependable and tough, the former defensive lineman has adjusted well over the last few seasons, but he needs to be a better pass protector. Not huge at 6-6 and 278 pounds, he needs to use his agility to be more productive against speed rushers.

6-4, 300-pound senior Josh Satterthwait will step in for Meister in the middle after starting most of last year at right guard. A former tight end, he's the team's most versatile offensive lineman able to play any position. Decent at guard and serviceable at tackle, center will likely be his most natural fit.

Junior Zachary Marshall will step in for Steve Sutter on the right side and could be in for a big year. The former Maryland transfer spent all last year as a backup and slimmed down a bit to 312 pounds on his 6-7 frame. Extremely strong, he needs to dominate from the start for the running game and has to be reliable from day one in pass protection.

6-4, 292-pound sophomore Bob Gulley can play anywhere on the front line and will get the call at right guard while Josh Satterthwait moves to center. A promising prospect who should be able to grow into one of the team's most dependable run blockers, he'll needs to be physical to make up for a general lack of experience.

Projected Top Reserves: Until some new prospects can get their feet wet, the tackle depth is all about 6-5, 292-pound sophomore Nate Williams. Versatile enough to play either tackle spot, he'll be the main backup right away while hoping Lee Zamos can be ready early on to provide a little help.

6-5, 315-pound redshirt freshman Brandon Brooks is one of the team's biggest offensive linemen and he should be one of the most punishing run blockers. Strong for his age, he can push people around as either a center or a guard. More suited for guard, he'll see most of his time behind Bob Gulley on the right side but will also get work in the middle.

How quickly can freshman Nick Kemper be ready to produce? One of the team's top recruits could be an instant producer at center. A potential mauler once he gets a little more size, the 6-3, 275-pounder is more polished than a true freshman should be. If he can play right away, that'll free up Brandon Brooks to spend more time at guard.

Watch Out For ... Marshall. Steve Sutter might be the top tackle now, but Marshall has the size and the potential to be even better. Consistency in the passing game will be vital, but he can hit; the running game should improve with him in a full-time role.
Strength: Size. This is a Big Ten-sized line averaging over 300 pounds per man among the starters. Sutter, DiFranco and Satterthwait have been around forever and should form a rock-solid nucleus to work around.
Weakness
:
Pass protection. Miami quarterbacks haven't been clean in years. Despite getting back a slew of veterans, the line was mediocre in passing situations and didn't do nearly enough for the running game. The tackles have to be more effective.
Outlook: After an injury-plagued 2006, the line was far better last year ... and it was still mediocre. Considering the size, there wasn't nearly enough of a push for the running game while MU quarterbacks were sacks 29 times. That's far better than the 49 allowed in 2006, but there's still room for improvement. The left side should be fine and Satterthwait should fill in nicely for Meister in the middle. The key will be the backups. Even with the good prospects waiting in the wings, an early rash of injuries would be a real problem.
Rating: 5.5