2009 Miami Univ. Preview - Offense
Miami RB Thomas Merriweather
Miami RB Thomas Merriweather
Posted May 22, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Miami University Offense

Miami University RedHawks

Preview 2009 - Offense

- 2009 CFN Miami Preview | 2009 Miami Offense
- 2009 Miami Defense | 2009 Miami Depth Chart
- 2008 MU Preview | 2007 MU Preview | 2006 MU Preview 

What you need to know: New offensive coordinator Peter Vaas, after coaching David Cutcliffe's attack at Duke, has his work cut out for him, but he has some good pieces to work with from an attack that was 12th in the MAC in total offense, last in scoring, and 101st in the nation in rushing and 101st in pass efficiency. Last year's attack was a mega-disappointment, and for good and bad all the key skill players are back. Vaas wants to push the ball down the field more with a vertical passing attack, and he has the speedsters to do it led by Chris Givens and Jamal Rogers. Three good backs will rotate to help out last year's poor running game, but they need room to move. The line wasn't bad last year, but it has to do some major revamping. And then there's the quarterback situation. Daniel Raudabaugh is back as his third year as the starter, but he has struggled to put points on the board. He'll be pushed by Zac Dysert and Clay Belton, and all can throw. There will be mistakes, but there will also be more big plays.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Daniel Raudabaugh
201-343, 1,960 yds, 8 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Thomas Merriweather
140 carries, 547 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Jamal Rogers
42 catches, 359 yds, 0 TD

Star of the offense: Junior WR Chris Givens
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore OT Brandon Brooks
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Ken Staudinger
Best pro prospect: Givens
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Givens, 2) WR Jamal Rogers, 3) Brooks
Strength of the offense: Receivers, Big-arm passers
Weakness of the offense: Proven production, Turnovers, Line experience


Projected Starter: Senior Daniel Raudabaugh has had a rocky career throwing 21 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions in his 27 games, but he also thrown for 4,682 yards and has shown flashes of greatness from time to time. However, the 6-4, 229-pound veteran always seems to offset a good moment with an interception or two to ruin things. Consistency is a problem, throwing for 1,960 yards and eight touchdowns with nine interceptions last year, but he was sharp this offseason highlighted by an 11-of-14 spring game performance. He's not going to run, but that's not a big deal in the new passing attack.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-5, 232-pound sophomore Clay Belton was just on the cusp of taking over the starting job, but he didn't come through when he had his chances. He saw significant action in the middle of last year, but he struggled in the win over Bowling Green and he finished the year throwing for 639 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions. Very big and very strong, with all the next-level measurables, he's also good around the goal line with three rushing scores in his limited action.

Redshirt freshman Zac Dysert made a nice push this offseason for the No. 2 job and could see more chances with the ones in practices. The 6-4, 216-pounder is the best rushing option of the three quarterbacks and has a bomber's mentality. He 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, but he has quickly adapted to the new style.

Watch Out For ... Raudabaugh to finally start to produce at a big-time level. He hasn't been quite able to put it all together, but this year he has the downfield passing attack that should suit him far better. He'll make his share of mistakes, but he should also come up with more big plays.
Strength: Arms. Raudabuagh and Belton have cannons while Dysert is a fantastic passer on the move. Pushing the ball down the field won't be a problem.
Efficiency. After finishing 102nd in the nation and 12th in the MAC in passing efficiency, the RedHawk quarterbacks followed it up by finishing 101st in the nation and last in the MAC. That might change with more deep balls, but keeping the interceptions to a minimum will be a must.
Outlook: The talent is there, the arms are there, and there's more than enough experience. Now there has to be far more production after the MU quarterbacks combined to throw a mere ten touchdown passes with 12 interceptions. This could be one of the team's biggest areas of improvement under the new coaching staff.
Rating: 6

Running Backs

Projected Starter: The most talented option in a deep stable of backs, junior Thomas Merriweather led the team with a mere 547 yards with four touchdowns last season, highlighted by a 133-yard day against Temple. He fell out of favor with the coaching staff over the second half of last year, and was suspended for a time, but he's being given a fresh start by the new regime. The 5-10, 203-pounder is powerful and quick, but it remains to be seen what he can do for a full season.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Andre Bratton is one of the team's fastest players, but he hasn't been able to show off his speed all that much. He suffered a bad knee injury two years ago and ran for just 366 yards with a touchdown last year. At 5-11 and 181 pounds, he's built like a receiver, which he was for most of last year catching 33 passes for 246 yards, but he didn't break off many big plays. The team's most versatile weapon, he's too fast to not hit a few home runs.

5-10, 198-pound redshirt freshman Danny Green was the team's top recruit last year, but he was kept on the shelf for a season. That turned out to be a huge break for the new coaching staff that'll get four years of production. The 5-10, 198-pounder doesn't have much in the way of power, but that's not his game. He's about making one cut and getting loose, and with his elusiveness, he could be used more as a receiver out of the backfield.

Watch Out For ... more big plays. The RedHawk backs averaged a paltry 3.4 yards per carry with the longest run just 38 yards. There's too much flash and too much speed to not crank out a few big game-changing plays.
Strength: Speed. Merriweather is quick enough to make things happen if he gets room to move, while Bratton and Green can fly. They can all be used in a variety of ways. 
Proven production. For all the experience and all the games logged by Merriweather and Bratton, they haven't done a whole bunch yet to show they can actually play. They have the tools, but they need to produce.
MU hasn't had a good running game in years. Injuries, bad line play, and a poor offense were the problem, all in a combination, since 2005, but there's hope for an improvement with good speed, experience, and an offense that'll open it up a bit more in the passing game.
Rating: 5.5


Projected Starters: 6-2, 205-pound junior Chris Givens was the team's most dangerous and productive target, following up a nice sophomore year, when he averaged 17.1 yards per catch, but tying for second on the team with 35 catches for a team-leading 513 yards and seven scores averaging 14.7 yards per catch. He stepped up in a big way over the second half of last year and should do even more in the new offense. With tremendous leaping ability, he should be more dangerous around the goal line while posing a matchup nightmare in single coverage at the outside X position.

Junior Jamal Rogers was supposed to be a big-impact player last year, but it happened differently than anyone thought. The 5-11, 168-pound speedster led the team with 40 catches despite being a backup at the Z position, but he only came up with 350 yards and didn't score. Used as a kickoff returner early on and given a few carries here and there, he struggled to stay healthy over the second half of the season and his production fell off. Now he'll be a key target in a starting role.

Working in an H-Back role will be Andy Cruse, a 6-4, 214-pound redshirt freshman with excellent receiving skills and great athleticism. He's a big, pure pass catcher who should be used as an inside presence and to create mismatches down the field when lined up against linebackers. He could quickly become a go-to target.

While Miami doesn't technically employ a tight end, Kendrick Bruton will be a tight end. Called a Y in the MU attack, the 6-4, 258-pound sophomore is a good blocker, and while he only caught one pass for five yards, he'll be used more as a receiver. 

Projected Top Reserves:
 Senior Dustin Woods has been fine, but he has never quite been able to put it all together and be a star. He averaged 17 yards per catch going into last year, and while he tied for second on the team with 35 catches, he only cranked out 377 yards and didn't score. He has the speed and he has the experience, but the 5-11, 197-pounder is a back up going into the fall after starting every game last year. To get back in the mix, he has to prove he can crank out big plays and he has to get into the end zone. In 37 games he has just five touchdown grabs and hasn't found the end zone in 23 games.

Junior Eugene Harris was the team's leading receiver in 2007 and he came up with a decent 33-catch, 286-yard, one score season last year. Now he'll be a spot starter in three and four wide sets. Along with his experience, the 5-10, 183-pounder is a phenomenal athlete who can jump out of the stadium and is a top punt returner with two scores last year. While he's not listed as a starter going into the fall, that will likely change.

6-1, 202-pound Armand Robinson has been a solid spot-starter for the last few seasons, but his production dipped last year catching 16 passes for 229 yards and two scores after catching 33 balls for 471 yards and three touchdowns in 2007.
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.

Watch Out For ... a good rotation. Woods and Harris were listed as backups coming out of spring ball, but they're starters who'll be part of the mix in some combination. There are plenty of options to choose from.
Strength: Experience. This was a veteran receiving corps going into last year, and now it's really experienced with the team's top four wide receivers back, not including Robinson. There's depth, starting experience, and speed.
Consistency. Blame the offense as a whole, but the corps that should've broken out last year struggled to do anything big last year. Givens caught seven of the team's ten touchdown passes, and Robinson caught two more. There's too much speed and experience to not do more.
Outlook: A huge disappointment, this had the potential to be the MAC's best receiving corps going into last year and it didn't happen. The talent is still there and there's speed and experience to burn, so with the adjustment in offensive philosophies, this could be the MAC's breakout unit. The receivers will get plenty of opportunities to make things happen.
Rating: 6.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: Step one to rebuilding the line will be to find a center to replace the steady Josh Satterthwait. Brad Bednar is a 6-4, 265-pound redshirt freshman who might be undersized, but he's a battler. He needs to get bigger and stronger, but he's a tough blocker with the skills to move out to tackle if he beefs up.

The one returning starter assured of a spot is Brandon Brooks, a 6-5, 315-pound sophomore who spent last year at right guard, starting every game, and will now move outside to play left tackle. Extremely strong and very physical, he'll have to prove early on that he has the feet to be a consistent pass protector.

Junior Sean Redwine will have to work to get the left guard job from veteran Bob Gulley. The 6-4, 278-pounder has been a solid career backup defensive tackle, making 11 tackles and a sack last year after making 21 as a redshirt freshman. Now he'll give it a try on the offensive side where he might be raw, but he's athletic and tough. 

6-5, 307-pound junior Nate Williams is one of the team's biggest lineman and he's one of the most versatile. Good enough to play either tackle spot if needed, he'll started out at right guard after spending last season as a spot starter in a rotation. Now the job is his and he'll be expected to be one of the team's top run blockers.

Ken Staudinger will take over the right tackle job from Steve Sutter, who came up with a strong second half of last year. The 6-5, 273-pound sophomore is a fantastic athlete, and although he's not that big, he's tough for his size. He can do it all with great run blocking ability and good potential as a pass protector against speed rushers.  

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Bob Gulley started the first two games at right tackle but was quickly moved to guard where he started on the left side in five of the final seven games. While he'll have to fight to get his job back, he'll at the very least be one of the team's top backups and will bring more size than Sean Redwine at left guard. The 6-4, 305-pound junior is big enough to play anywhere on the offensive front.

6-3, 274-pound redshirt freshman Nick Kemper was one of the team's top recruits last season and was considered a possible instant starter at center. A mauler who's polished enough to start if needed, he lost out to Brad Bednar this spring and will have to work to potentially be used at guard.

Watch Out For ... the centers. Kemper was a great get for the program and was all but certain to be the starting center coming into this season but Bednar stepped up and showed that he could handle the job. The RedHawks are set at the position for the next four years with either one of them.
Strength: Versatility. The MU line has several players like Brooks and Redwine who can play just about anywhere. The coaching staff has preached from day one the desire to get the best players on the field at all times, and the versatility of this group will help.
: Overall experience. There are some good options who saw time last year and are ready to step up into bigger roles, but the team will be relying on four redshirt freshmen and three sophomores to be a big part of the rotation.
Outlook: The line improved by leaps and bounds, especially in pass protection, and now it has to start from near-scratch. Finding all the right pieces to fit the puzzle will be a problem, and it's going to be a trial by fire to find the right starting five, but this will be a far better line over the second half of the season and it will be special next year. There are no seniors and the best players are underclassmen.
Rating: 5.5