Looking to notch their first win under Head Coach Don Treadwell, the Miami University football team (0-2) will host Bowling Green State University (2-1) this Saturday at Yager Stadium.
Following two close losses to the University of Minnesota and to the University of Missouri where the RedHawks failed to capitalize on various scoring opportunities and turned the ball over at key moments in the game, the Red and White will try to put together a balanced, disciplined game this week.
“I think we’re moving forward with positive strides,” Treadwell said. “I think if we can continue, which we will do, to clean up those things that put you in a negative situation, which we always know are turnovers, we can continue to improve in those areas.”
One of the keys this week on the offensive side of the ball for Miami will be establishing the running game. Redshirt sophomore running back Erik Finklea has performed well thus far, but the running game may prove to be an important factor this week against a Bowling Green team that has allowed over 110 yards per game on the ground, while holding teams to under 200 yards passing through three games.
“It is really important that we protect the football [this week],” Running Backs Coach Mark Spencer said. “We need to establish the run early. It matters what happens between the lines and at the end of the day, we are focused on the game and on executing each play.”
However, look for the RedHawks to utilize their dynamic passing attack early and often. Sophomore wide out Nick Harwell will look to build on a 162 yard, 12 catch performance last week while redshirt senior wide receiver Chris Givens will likely be a big target for Miami, especially in the red zone.
“Big plays on offense are huge,” Treadwell said. “I think Nick came back in and added a little bit of juice to the offense. But it also, when you have more than one receiver, makes the passing game in general better, and I think that’s what he did was just provide us more opportunities for more people to demonstrate their ability.”
Defensively, the Red and White will look to shut down one of the top passing offenses in the country. Bowling Green’s redshirt sophomore quarterback Matt Schilz is first among all Mid-American Conference quarterbacks in passing yards, while senior wide receiver Eugene Cooper leads a veteran receiving corps that has caught 11 touchdown passes already this year. Shutting down these weapons will be one of the keys this week for the RedHawks defense.
“We need to play hard and play physical all day for all four quarters,” sophomore cornerback Dayonne Nunley said. “[Bowling Green] has a great offense and we need to come out ready to go [on Saturday].”
Miami has struggled against the run this season, partially due to the two dual-threat quarterbacks they have faced, but has shut down opponent’s passing attacks. The RedHawks have allowed just over 150 yards per game through the air this year, and a veteran front seven will likely come together as a unit as the season progresses to help shut down opponent’s ground attacks.
The Red and White have also struggled on special teams this year, but most of the mistakes are correctable and the team is not concerned, according to Treadwell.
In addition, Miami is very close to selling out Yager Stadium for the first time in eight years. Saturday not only marks the home opener for the RedHawks, but it is also Family Weekend. Campus Activities Council, Red Alert and the Miami Athletic Department will co-sponsor Tailgate Town Saturday starting at 10 a.m. in the Millett Hall parking lot. Fans should wear white and arrive early.
If you cannot make it to the game tomorrow, you can listen to the game on Miami’s IMG Sports Network or on WMSR at www.redhawkradio.com. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET.