It seems so hard to believe that only seven years ago Miami was on top of the mid-major world, finishing the season at 10-2 (8-0 in the MAC) and earning a trip to the GMAC bowl against Louisville. Sure they had a quarterback by the name of Ben Roethlisberger, but from then on Miami has struggled to regain the form that they once were used to. After just three wins in two seasons (2008-09), the Miami football program looks to get back on track in the 2010 campaign. Two years in a row the RedHawks have finished in the basement of the MAC East division, and they are looking to get out of it this year. A tough non-conference schedule that includes Florida and Missouri will be tough for the RedHawks, but a decent MAC schedule could see the RedHawks move up in the conference standings.
Miami doesn’t start off the season easy by any standards. Going into Ben-Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville to face the Gators has been considered one of the hardest things to do in college football for a number of years, and this year looks no different. Ranked in the top-five in some pre-season polls, the Gators look as “loaded” as ever even though having lost top players to the NFL like wide out Riley Cooper, linebacker Brandon Spikes, and wait who’s that guy? Oh yeah Tim Tebow. Losing these three players shouldn’t halt Florida at all, and for Miami, it will be one of the biggest tests this program has ever faced.
The schedule gets a little nicer when Eastern Michigan comes to Oxford for the home-opener, but then gets difficult when Miami hosts Colorado State and then visit pass-happy Missouri. Miami’s final non-conference game is Week 6 against a potential top 25 team in Cincinnati. With a tough non-conference schedule, it’s hard to imagine Miami doing any better than 2-4 in the first six games of the season.
Players to Watch:
The reigns of the 2009 Miami football team were handed to senior Daniel Radabaugh, who entered his second year at the quarterback position for the RedHawks. After Radabaugh struggled mightily throughout the early season, Coach Mike Haywood let a redshirt freshman take the reigns. Zac Dysert became Miami’s most successful player last year, throwing for over 2,000 yards in limited playing time and rushing for over 500 more. Look for Dysert, a co-captain on the team, to be an impact player for the ’Hawks this season.
The defensive side of the ball has two players to watch out for, as Miami’s defense seems to be the strong point in 2010. Senior safety Jordan Gafford and junior linebacker Jerrell Wedge figure to be the playmakers on a defense that needs to improve from last year. Gafford, considered to be one of the better defensive players in the MAC tied for fourth best on the team last year with 64 tackles. Wedge, a redshirt junior led the team in total tackles last year with 114. Both players look to help the Miami defense rebound after a disappointing season in 2009.
Look for Miami to be more competitive this year in the MAC. I think they are still a few more years away from being a contender, but they have the talent to surprise a lot of people. Their first two conference games are at home against Kent State and Eastern Michigan, and if they can win both of these, they can give themselves a promising start to the 2010 campaign. A big test for them will be their four non-conference games, in which three of the four teams look to be in the top 25 when they take on Miami. If Miami can show that they can play against these teams, it will give them the confidence to finish higher in the MAC this season.
Prediction: Miami will finish the season at 4-8, a big step-up from last year’s record of 2-10, and their ’09 record of 1-11. Fourth-pace in the MAC East seems to be their spot this season.
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Written by Michael Solomon