The Miami University football team will be making the trip to Huntington, W. Va. Saturday for the season opener against Marshall University.
The RedHawks are hoping this will be the year to snap their season-opener woes, as they have dropped their previous five openings. 2013 marks the third year of the program under Don Treadwell, and the head coach said he is hopeful his squad’s fortunes will turn around after two 4-8 seasons. A successful preseason, he said, is a great start.
“Each year is a new beginning, and there is always going to be that tremendous excitement in the air,” Treadwell said. “The preseason has been good for us, and we’ve got some new emerging leaders.”
His team’s first obstacle is Marshall, a pass-heavy offense that topped the standings in FBS passing yards per game last season. Junior quarterback Rakeem Cato will be under center once again for the Thundering Herd after completing 406 of 584 passes in 2012 and 37 touchdowns en route to winning Conference USA Player of the Year.
“It’s a no-brainer that their offense is very explosive,” Treadwell said. “We’re looking at a team that averages somewhere over 40 points a game. Every game they demonstrate their ability to move the football. But the catalyst is definitely Cato, their quarterback. In my opinion he is just phenomenal. This is truly a challenge for our defense heading into the game.”
Marshall appears to be a fairly equal match to the RedHawks on paper, which should give them confidence heading into their first game of the fall. Miami is relatively young, and return 47 letterwinners this season. But youth and inexperience can help or hurt a team, and Miami has 51 freshmen on the squad in 2013, as opposed to 12 seniors. One such senior, defensive lineman Austin Brown, is now a co-captain and is looking to make an impact on the field – which, for the redshirt senior, will be his first since he was injured on Sept. 8 last year.
“We’re really anxious to get out there in this first game against Marshall,” Brown said. “We’ve stepped up our game.”
As far as stepping up is concerned, no player will be under the microscope more than redshirt senior and co-captain quarterback Austin Boucher. Boucher holds a perfect 4-0 record in his career, including Mid-American Conference Championship and GoDaddy.com Bowl victories in 2010. Boucher has proven himself an able quarterback, and all eyes will be under center as the season starts.
For now, Treadwell said he just wants to take the season one game at a time. He knows his team can raise the bar and earn a winning season, and it all starts with pocketing a few tallies in the “W” column early – which is exactly what he hopes to do 7 p.m., Saturday versus Marshall.