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2016 Week 3 Preview: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Miami RedHawks

Can Miami pick up the pieces in time for their Homecoming with WKU?

NCAA Football: Miami (Ohio) at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Following a disappointing 21-17 loss to a good Eastern Illinois team, Miami has to get its house in order quickly as it hosts a talented Western Kentucky squad during Homecoming weekend Saturday. The Hilltoppers rolled Rice and lost big to #1 Alabama this season so there’s no way to tell how well they’ll play in Oxford, but they should feel confident after blasting the RedHawks 56-14 in Bowling Green, Ky. a season ago.

The offense hasn’t looked like it has missed Brandon Doughty as Mike White has ran the quarterback spot swimmingly so far, with 652 yards, three touchdowns, one interception, and 11.1 yards per pass attempt. Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris have been the focal points of the offense as they have over 50% of the team’s targets and catches in 2016. There’s some opportunities to move the ball on the defense as teams have converted half of their third downs and have scored five red zone touchdowns in seven trips.

Miami will be shorthanded on Saturday with Chris Hudson out for the season with a knee injury and Rokeem Williams out for at least this game, while J.T. Jones has to sit out the first half as a result of his targeting penalty last week against EIU. However, the receiving corps still has plenty of playmakers with James Gardner and Jared “J-Dash” Murphy accounting for 11 receptions for 167 yards with Gardner hauling in three scores. The defense has had problems getting timely stops, allowing 13/24 of third downs to be converted and 2/3 on fourth downs.

The defense has been able to hold teams to 183 passing yards per game, which bodes well for their match-up with Western Kentucky. The RedHawks have been able to move the ball offensively with a good running attack with 155 rushing yards per game and big plays in the passing game with 9.1 yards per pass attempt from Billy Bahl. Miami has something to prove after last weekend, so a competitive game with WKU wouldn’t be a surprise. That defense has to find a way to create stops in order to pull off the upset, though.