2010 Miami Univ. Preview – Offense
Miami University OG Brandon Brooks
Miami University OG Brandon Brooks
Posted Jul 5, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Miami University RedHawk Offense

Miami Univ. RedHawks

Preview 2010 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: New offensive coordinator Morris Watts has plenty of good pieces to work with, but there's also a lot of work to be done to revive one of the nation's worst offense. The yards were there thanks to the passing attack that had to bomb away to try to stay in games, but the ground attack went nowhere. The biggest problem was an offensive line that gave up a nation-worst 58 sacks, killing any hope for any consistency. Zac Dysert stepped in at quarterback and did what he could, and now he should be even more impressive with one of the MAC's best receiving corps to work with. Holding on to the ball is a must, establishing the ground game is vital, and scoring early would be nice after coming up with a mere 27 points in the first quarter. With eight starters back, at least most of the key parts know what they're doing.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Zac Dysert
247-401, 2,611 yds, 12 TD, 16 INT
Rushing: Thomas Merriweather
105 carries, 291 yds, 3 TD
Receiving: Armand Robinson
67 catches, 788 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Zac Dysert
Player who has to step up and be a star: Redshirt freshman OT Josh Harvey
Unsung star on the rise: Freshman WR Nick Harwell
Best pro prospect: Dysert
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Dysert, 2) WR Armand Robinson, 3) WR Chris Givens
Strength of the offense: Experience, Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Pass Protection, Rushing Production


Projected Starter: Out of all the chaos of last year and all the problems, sophomore Zac Dysert became a positive throwing for 2,611 yards and 12 touchdowns while running for 258 yards and five scores. He threw for 300 yards or more in four games including a 426-yard, three score day against Temple, and he was on fire for a three-game stretch bombing away for 1,118 yards against NIU, Toledo, and Temple. Predictably for a freshman starter, he made a slew of mistakes with 16 interceptions throwing two or more in six of his 11 appearances. At 6-4 and 207 pounds he has good size and is a good enough rushing option to carry the ball at least 15 times a gain. While he finished second in Ohio high school history with 11,174 passing yards (even with a few games misses with a broken thumb), he's more than just a pocket passer with the ability to run the spread and make it shine.

Projected Top Reserves: While there's no chance of replacing Zac Dysert, 6-1, 209-pound redshirt freshman Austin Boucher is a nice prospect who can step in and be a decent game manager. He's not all that big, but has the arm to bring it with a crisp, decisive passing ability with the smarts to make the right reads. He could've gone to Ohio State, but he chose MU to play with his twin brother, Collin, a linebacker.

Redshirt freshman Drew Jackson is an interesting prospect with 6-2, 225-pound size and a great arm. He has been well coached; his grandpa is the MU quarterback coach, Morris Watts. He's just athletic enough to be a playmaker on the move.

Watch Out For … Dysert to see some all-star honors. Sort of by default in a league lacking star quarterbacks, Dysert has the size and the upside to be special over the next few years. The hype will start up right away.
Strength: Dysert. In a rough situation, he put up the big yards showing decent poise under fire. While he threw too many picks and there weren't enough big plays, he appears to be the type of player to build a team around.
Weakness: Backup experience. If Boucher isn't ready, there's nothing to count on. With a questionable line that gave up more sacks than anyone in America, the backups have to be on high alert in case Dysert starts getting beaten up again.
Outlook: If the line can just be a wee bit better, Dysert could be excellent. He never had time to work and was thrown into an awful situation right away, and he still showed promise. The backup situation isn't exactly strong, so he has to be durable and do far better at keeping the interceptions to a minimum.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: The running game was the second-worst in America last season, but if given a little help from the line, senior Thomas Merriweather can produce. The most talented back on the roster, he followed up a 547-yard 2008 (and it would've been more if he hadn't had a falling out with the old coaching staff) by leading the team in rushing for a second straight year. However, he only ran for 291 yards and three touchdowns with a high-yardage game of just 56 against Northwestern. At 5-10 and 214 pounds, he has decent size and is tremendously quick, but he needs to get the ball more with room to do something with it.

Redshirt freshman Justin Semmes will start at fullback, when the offense uses a fullback, but he'll be used more as a runner. The 6-2, 226-pounder might be a short-yardage option who'll do more between the tackles than the tailbacks, and while he won't break off any big runs, he could be an productive addition to the attack.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Danny Green was the team's top recruit two years ago but didn't get on the field until last year. He got his feet wet running 11 times for 46 yards, and now he's the No. 2 option with 5-10, 203-pound size and one-cut ability to find a hole and explode through it. While he doesn't bring a lot of power, he's elusive and can be used more as a receiver after making ten catches for 74 yards.

With an interesting blend of size and speed, 6-0, 224-pound sophomore Roman Lawson is a good pounder who could end up being a workhorse. He got a little bit of work running for 70 yards and a score on 18 carries, and now he could be used far more in the rotation as a powerful option to wear down defenses.

True freshman Orne Bey has all the skills to become a dangerous part of the ground game, and possibly the No. 1 guy. While he's only 5-8 and 170 pounds, he's one of the team's strongest players (especially for his size) and can fly. He could be used as a defensive back or a receiver, but the coaching staff will be giving him his first shot as a running back.

Watch Out For … Green. He never really got a chance to show what he could do in his limited action with just 11 carries, but he has the potential to be the type of back who can carry an offense from time to time. The team needs him to break out in a big way.
Strength: Talented options. Merriweather and Green would put up huge numbers if they had a solid line to work behind. The simply didn't have any room to breathe, but now that the line gets four starters back, the potential is there to do far more.
Weakness: Proven production. Merriweather simply has never put up the yards, and while the line can be blamed for a lot of problems, he only averaged 2.8 yards per carry and the team averaged a mere 2.4 yards per pop.
Outlook: With a veteran in Merriweather and a young talent in Green, the RedHawks have the ability to come up with a decent ground game, but that would buck a trend. It has been years since the program has done anything on the ground, and with the offense revolving around QB Zac Dysert, this doesn't appear to the breakthrough season the coaching staff might be hoping for.
Unit Rating: 5


Projected Starters: Junior Chris Givens is the team's most dangerous target, and now he'll get to show it after missing most of last year with a shoulder injury. At 6-2 and 211 pounds he has good size to go along with great deep speed and tremendous leaping ability, which he was able to show off over his first two years. He only made 11 catches for 98 yards last season after making 35 two years ago, and now he should be the team's blow-up playmaker.

Working at the H is last year's leading receiver, senior Armand Robinson, a 6-1, 200-pound shocker who went from being a decent spot starter to a 67-catch, 788-yard, four score producer. While he's not a blazer, he was able to make things happen on the move and had a few unstoppable games catching ten passes against both Cincinnati and Temple and nine passes against Western Michigan and Kent State. He'll be the team's most reliable target.

True freshman Nicholas Harwell got to school early and instantly became a factor. The 6-1, 175-pound Texan has excellent speed and is a great route runner. Most importantly this offseason, he caught everything thrown his way and showed a good ability to make things happen after the catch. He might not be a No. 1 target, but he'll be a starter and a key part of the passing game from Day One.

Rarely used over the first two seasons, junior Kendrick Bruton should be a breakout player as the tight end plays a more prominent role. At 6-4 and 264 pounds he's more of a blocker, and he only caught two passes 12 yards over the last two seasons, but he can catch and he can be utilized more on short range plays.

Projected Top Reserves: With the return of Chris Givens, senior Jamal Rogers might be a second option at the X, but he's a proven producer finishing second on the team with 54 catches for 505 yards and three touchdowns and with 113 career catches for 1,028 yards and four scores. Able to work at any of the receiver positions, he'll see plenty of time being moved around where needed and will once again serve as a kickoff returner after averaging just 18 yards per try last year.

Working in an H-Back role again will be Andy Cruse , a 6-4, 213-pound sophomore who came up with 18 catches for 248 yards and two scores averaging 13.8 yards per catch. He came on over the second half of the year showing off his great athleticism and nice skills, and when he's in, he creates mismatches as a big-play producer.

When the offense is looking for more of a pure receiving tight end than the huge Kendrick Bruton, sophomore Steve Marck will step in. At 6-3 and 245 pounds, he lighter and quicker than Bruton, and he was a wee bit more productive as a true freshman catching six passes for 72 yards and a touchdown highlighted by a 24-yard scoring grab against Temple.

Watch Out For … Harwell. The true freshman got to school early and showed he's the real deal. With tremendous speed and great route running ability, he could become a star and a go-to playmaker right away.
Strength: Veterans. In Robinson and Rogers, the passing game gets back a nice 1-2 punch that should open things up for Harwell along with the tight ends. The RedHawks have good playmakers to make the passing game shine.
Weakness: Consistency. This was a problem with the entire offense, and the receivers weren't above having problems here and there. The top targets disappeared now and then, and that can't happen in the shootouts the team will likely face.
Outlook: If the secondary isn't the team's biggest strength, this is. The RedHawks have some big, talented targets who can come up with big plays and can give secondaries fits. As long as Givens is right and Harwell plays up to his potential, MU could have one of the MAC's better receiving corps.
Unit Rating: 6

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: The coaching staff had to do something to try to improve the woeful pass protection, and the first key move was taking 12-game starting left tackle Brandon Brooks and moving him to right guard. The one returning starter last year, the junior had a nightmare of a time keeping the quarterback upright and now will try to use his 6-5, 315-pound size on the inside.

With Brooks moving over, redshirt freshman Josh Harvey will take over at left tackle with the hope being that he can make an immediate improvement. At 6-5 an 324 pounds he has the bulk, he has the smarts, and he has the raw strength to be an anchor over the next four years. But first he has to prove he can move.

Sophomore Brad Bednar took over the starting center job and started every game. While he was shaky, he has the potential to be better after bulking up to 283 pounds on his 6-4 frame. The skills were there from the start, but the knock was that he needed to get bigger and stronger. He did that.

6-5, 308-pound junior Nate Williams started every game at right guard but could move around where needed. Just athletic enough to play either tackle spot, he's needed more as one of the team's more promising run blockers. He wasn't necessarily a consistent rock, but the potential is there to be a key player on the line.

Sophomore Matt Kennedy had a rocky first season starting every game at right tackle, but he's a good one who'll grow into the job. At 6-5 and 245 pounds he's built like a tight end and moves well, but he isn't going to power over anyone. A quick technician of a blocker, he needs to use his experience to be better.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Bob Gulley was a key reserve who saw time in every game. Originally a tackle when he started his career, he was quickly moved to guard where he started for most of the second half of 2008. Pushed out by Brandon Brooks, the 6-4, 308-pounder will once again be a backup with the ability and the potential to step in and start without a problem.

When the RedHawk line needs more size at right tackle, 6-6, 290-pound Evan Wiley will step in for Matt Kennedy. 45 pounds heavier, he's a very tough tackle who has the bulk and the strength to move to guard if needed.

Watch Out For … Harvey. The line needs one star to build around, and while Harvey might not quite be an All-MAC type of player at the moment, he has the size and the upside to be exactly what the front five needs.
Strength: Cohesion. All five starters were in place for the final 11 games, and now four starters are back. If nothing else, everyone knows what everyone else is doing.
Weakness: Blocking. A total and complete disaster, the run blocking was miserable and the pass protection was the worst in America allowing 58 sacks. The line is more experience, and now it has to be far better.
Outlook: The line has experience with four starters returning, but it has a long, long way to go. After starting from scratch, the inability to block anyone was the main cause of the offense going into the tank, but there's hope. There isn't a senior starter with three underclassmen expected to be keys for the next few years, and there's nowhere to go but up. The line will be more physical, and now the production has to come.
Unit Rating: 4.5

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