2010 Miami University Preview
Miami University QB Zac Dysert
Miami University QB Zac Dysert
Posted Jul 5, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Miami University RedHawks

Miami Univ. RedHawks

Preview 2010

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Mike Haywood
2nd year: 1-11
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 23, Def. 25, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 18
Ten Best Miami Univ. Players
1. LB Jerrell Wedge, Jr.
2. QB Zac Dysert, Soph.
3. WR Armand Robinson, Sr.
4. FS Anthony Kokal, Jr.
5. SS Jordan Gafford, Sr.
6. WR Chris Givens, Jr.
7. DT Austin Brown, Soph.
8. LB Evan Harris, Soph.
9. CB Brandon Stephens, Sr.
10. WR Nick Harwell, Fr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 at Florida
Sept. 11 Eastern Michigan
Sept. 18 Colorado State
Sept. 25 at Missouri
Oct. 2 Kent State
Oct. 9 at Cincinnati
Oct. 16 at Central Mich
Oct. 23 Ohio
Oct. 30 at Buffalo
Nov. 10 at Bowling Green
Nov. 17 at Akron
Nov. 23 Temple

So the first year under head coach Mike Haywood didn't work out all that well; that was to be expected. But it's one thing to have a bad season, and it's another to make a push to be one of the nation's worst teams in several areas.

Miami, a once proud MAC superpower who was in the hunt for the conference title every year, took the cliché of rebuilding to a whole new level. Over the last four years, MU played for the conference title in 2007 and went 5-31 the other three seasons. Haywood had to say all the right things, but at the same time it was a must to preach patience and accept that things weren't going to look all that great with a slew of new players trying to revive a team that was one of the biggest disappointments of 2008. After losing 16 of the last 17 games, it's time to start being competitive.

Last in the nation in sacks allowed. Last in the nation kickoff returns and turnover margin. Second-to last in rushing, 113th in the nation in sacks, 116th in scoring, 118th in punting, and 108th in scoring defense. The team was undergoing a complete overhaul, and the stats showed. Now it's time for the lumps taken last year to pay off this season.

The biggest question, though, will be if the problems last year were solely on inexperience, or if the talent level is simply not in place. 51 letterwinners and 19 starters are back led by rising quarterback Zac Dysert, a big, mobile playmaker who'll be the face of the program for the next three years. He needs time to operate, and that could be a problem behind a line that got him beaten up. On the plus side, four starters are back up front with the fifth player, massive redshirt freshman Josh Harvey, possibly the best of the lot. Armand Robinson, Chris Givens, and freshman Nick Harwell, combine to form a dangerous receiving corps, and Thomas Merriweather and Danny Green are potentially dangerous backs who could shine if the line shows up.

The offense might have gotten the headlines for its ineptitude, but the defense did its part failing to get into the backfield on a regular basis (if ever) and struggling to stop the run. However, all four starters are back in the secondary, with some excellent newcomers on the way at corner. Jerrell Wedge might be the MAC's best linebacker, some good-looking transfers and promising young players will combine forces up front, and there's some real, live depth in several spots to get excited about.

With all the problems last year, the team never lost its fight and was more competitive for a stretch before getting blown out in the final two games. If the fight shown in late October can combine with the experience and attitude, MU could make a little bit of noise in the MAC before blowing up 2011. That's only if everyone can show a little patience, and that could be tough for a program that's more than ready to become great again.

What to watch for on offense: More from the running game. It's been years since Miami ran the ball effectively, and it certainly wasn't anything to write home about last year finishing second-to-last in the nation averaging 70 yards per game (only Duke was worse). Haywood is a running backs coach by trade and wants to get the ground attack rolling led by a more physical line. Thomas Merriweather and Danny Green has fast, talented backs who'll get their chances, while QB Zac Dysert is one of the league's more dangerous rushing options when he gets outside of the pocket.

What to watch for on defense: The freshmen defensive backs. Haywood hardly was shy about stating that his team needed more speed and had to have an upgrade at corner. He got both as the coaching staff recruited a whale of a class of defensive backs led by Allen Veazie, Travis Williams, and possibly Orne Bey, a likely running back with the strength to be a whale of a defender. Throw in Dante Taylor, Demetrius Quarles, Tray Payne, and Dayonne Nunley, four more options who'll get their chances right away.

The team will be far better if … it stops giving the ball away. Miami simply isn't good enough to lose the turnover battle. Tulane was second-to-last in the nation in turnover margin down an average of 1.33. Only six teams were above one and only one was above two: MU. The RedHawks gave the ball away a whopping 36 times and only took it away 12. Flipping that around a bit and being on the plus side would do wonders. In the lone win last year, Toledo, MU was +1.

The schedule: What does every struggling program need to start off its season? A trip to Florida! The RedHawks have to get past the likely bloodletting right away to take advantage of the meatiest part of the slate with three home games in four. After the October 2nd date against Kent State, MU goes on an ugly run of five road games in six dates before closing out against Temple. The non-conference schedule isn't pretty outside of a home date with Colorado State. Along with the date in Gainesville, MU has to play at Cincinnati and at Missouri, but there's a good break in conference play getting Eastern Michigan from the West.

Best offensive player: Sophomore QB Zac Dysert. Out of the lousy season came one major plus. Dysert got plenty of experience and was able to work though his mistakes, and now the hope is that he's ready to be more consistent to go along with his excellent skills. Already being given a long look by the NFL types, if he can cut down on his interceptions and start showing he can lead the offense to consistent points, the sky's the limit.

Best defensive player: Junior LB Jerrell Wedge. While he's only 5-9 and 222 pounds, Wedge is an extraordinarily tough hitter leading the way with 114 stops with 5.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. Coming out of the blue after a non-descript redshirt freshman season, the playmaker will be in the hunt for more than just all-star honors if he can come up with a repeat of last year.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman OT Josh Harvey. Very big and very talented, the 6-5, 324-pounder needs to be the key pass protector for Zac Dysert's blindside. Considering the line gave up 58 sacks, Harvey, the lone new starter to the front, will get the spotlight on from the start. The skill players are good, but they need time to operate and that starts with Harvey.

The season will be a success if … the RedHawks win five games. That might not seem like anything special for a program that's four years removed from being a powerhouse, but a next step needs to be taken for the young, still rebuilding team. It's not going to be easy with some many late road games, but with as much returning talent as anyone in the MAC, the expectations aren't going to be set low.

Key game: Oct. 2 vs. Kent State. Miami isn't going to beat Florida or Missouri and it's a near lock that the Colorado State game is a loss. With the Eastern Michigan game at home, MU will likely be 1-3 to start the season before hosting Kent State. With five road games in the next six games to follow, a loss to the Golden Flashes could mean a disastrous slide.

2009 Fun Stats:
- First Quarter Scoring: Opponents 109 – Miami University 27
- Sacks: Opponents 58 for 378 yards – Miami University 14 for 116 yards
- Average yards per carry: Opponents 4.9 – Miami University 2.4

- 2010 Miami Univ. Preview | 2010 Miami Univ. Offense
- 2010 Miami Univ. Defense | 2010 Miami Univ. Depth Chart
- Miami Univ. Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006