Still seeking their first win of the year, the Miami University football team will host the Black Knights of the U.S. Military Academy (Army) this Saturday at Yager Stadium. Army runs an option offense and boasts the nation’s second best rushing offense, averaging almost 370 yards rushing per game.
“The style of offense that Army has is unique in itself because again you just don’t see a lot of teams throughout the country running that style of offense,” Head Coach Don Treadwell said. “It does challenge you tremendously to be a very sound defense. [We have to] trust in one another. If you’re one guy out-of-gap [on defense], it’s going to be exposed.”
In addition, Miami will have to put together a strong offensive attack on Saturday. The RedHawks are just 6-for-10 in the red zone this season, and Treadwell stressed the importance of putting points on the board this week.
“The biggest concern that we want to continue to improve upon is scoring in the red zone,” Treadwell said. “We’ve done a pretty darn good job of moving the ball between the chains … You’ve got to come away with points and that doesn’t matter who you’re playing.”
One of the bright spots for this team has been the play of sophomore wide receiver Nick Harwell, who has racked up three straight 100-yard receiving games and is one more game away from tying Martin Nance’s record of four-straight 100-yard games.
“[Nick] has done a really good job at being an explosive player,” Wide Receivers Coach Mike Bath said. “He is only scratching the potential of what he can be.”
The RedHawks have relied on a plethora of running backs this season to build up the worst rushing offense in college football. Freshman Chrishawn Dupuy, who originally came in as a defensive back, carried the ball five times for 15 yards last week against the University of Cincinnati and will likely get more carries this week.
“We’ve added another player by committee and we’re very excited about him,” Treadwell said. “We need a spark [at the running back position]. He provided that and he’s only going to get better. He provides the things from an explosive type standpoint [to improve the backfield].”
The Red and White will also look to improve the play of their offensive line this week, after giving up a combined 11 sacks over the past two games. Junior center JoJo Williams is expected to start this week after missing the past two games, while redshirt junior offensive lineman Matt Kennedy will once again be a game time decision.
Defensively, the ‘Hawks will look to shut down one of the most dynamic rushing attacks in college football.
“It is definitely a unique challenge,” Defensive Coordinator Pete Rekstis said. “This is an offense you might only see once per year.”
Look for more of the secondary to help against the run this week by moving more men into the box. Miami’s defense will be expected to play very well once again, as the offense continues to stutter for the RedHawks and as this team continues to search for their first victory of the season.
“We need to continue to believe in each other and keep on working hard,” Bath said. “We need to trust that what we know is right and come out and execute.”
Saturday is Military Appreciation Day and marks the end of a three-game home stand for the RedHawks. Miami will also unveil the statues of former coaches Ara Parseghian, Earl Blaik, John Pont and Bo Schembechler on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in the Cradle of Coaches Plaza at Yager Stadium. Parseghian will headline the event, which is open to the public.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Yager Stadium. Fans can listen to the game on Miami’s IMG Sports Network or on WMSR at redhawkradio.com.