Despite being picked to win the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division this season, the Miami University football team wrapped up a disappointing season with their third straight loss last week against archrival Ohio University, finishing 4-8 on the year.
However, all is not lost for this young squad.
Many of you may remember former Miami Head Football Coach, Michael Haywood, who won one game in his first season, only to win 10 the following year en route to the team’s first conference title since 2003 and their first bowl appearance since 2004.
Haywood was able to develop and recruit players between his first and second year and was also able to better implement his offensive and defensive schemes.
Current Head Coach Don Treadwell will be able to do the same next year. Some of Miami’s best players were not heavily recruited coming out of high school and this ability to find dark horse recruits will allow the RedHawks to field competitive teams every year.
Although Miami had the worst rushing offense in college football, they were still able to move the ball down the field behind the arm of quarterback Zac Dysert.
The RedHawks finished the season ranked 14th in passing offense, averaging nearly 300 yards per game.
The Red and White had one of the best receiving corps in the country and will only lose Chris Givens going into next season.
Wide out Nick Harwell had one of the best seasons in Miami history, catching a single-season record 97 balls for nearly 1,500 yards and nine touchdowns. He is also on the Biletnikoff Award watch list, the award annually given to the nation’s top receiver.
By comparison, Oklahoma State University junior wide receiver Justin Blackmon, who won the award last season, has nearly 200 fewer yards receiving in as many games played and has only caught six more touchdowns than Harwell.
Harwell was also named to the All-MAC First Team along with cornerback Dayonne Nunley.
Freshmen wide receivers David Frazier, Dawan Scott and Willie Culpepper helped complement one of the deepest receiving corps in the MAC this year and will only improve going into next season.
If Miami can establish a consistent running attack in 2012, their offense will be next to unstoppable.
The RedHawks only lose 13 seniors from this year’s team and have already locked up 16 players in recruiting, including 11 from Ohio.
And defensively, Miami will be one of the most experienced teams in the MAC.
There is a lot to look forward to next season. The Red and White will continue to learn Treadwell’s system, which will lead to fewer turnovers and fewer costly penalties.
Dysert and Harwell will be competing for some of the top offensive awards in the country, and Miami’s defense will dominate opponent’s air attacks, as they return some of the best pass rushers in the conference in Austin Brown and Wes Williams, in addition to Nunley and fellow defensive back D.J. Brown.
The easy thing is to roll over and give up on this team. The real question though, is if Miami students will remain patient, remain passionate and remain loyal to their school.