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Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Miami RedHawks: Five Things Learned

Miami responded from last week’s disappointment with a strong showing against a good team.

NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Miami (Ohio) Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Miami showed its resilience in a 31-24 loss to Western Kentucky following a disastrous ending in last week’s match-up against Eastern Illinois. Here are the five big takeaways from Saturday as we head into Cincinnati week.

  1. James Gardner is a budding star in the MAC. Despite the loss of Rokeem Williams this week, the passing game didn’t miss a beat as Gardner went off for 136 yards and a score on five receptions. With four TDs already this season, he’s on pace to have a special year at wide receiver for the RedHawks.
  2. Billy Bahl is productive, but inefficient. While Bahl was able to throw for 339 yards and two scores Saturday, he did it on 20-of-41 pass attempts. With that many wasted downs (as well as the seven sacks allowed against the Hilltoppers), Bahl occasionally puts the defense in bad situations and it’s hard to win football games like that.
  3. The offensive line struggled mightily against an average defensive front. It was a bad day up front as the line gave up the aforementioned seven sacks and it could only muster 2.2 yards per rush on a defense that struggled to stop the run so far this season. With the kind of defenses that Miami has to face this season, the OL has to turn it around quick or the game will come down to their true sophomore QB making the right decision on every play, which isn’t ideal.
  4. The defense did enough to give the offense a chance. With three turnovers, two third down conversions allowed, and one red zone touchdown allowed, you have to be pleased with how the defense played against a really potent offense. The run defense is a concern obviously with over 170 rushing yards allowed per game, but you’re going to take your lumps with a team that doesn’t have a lot of seniors.
  5. Special teams actively hurt Miami. With 28.8 net yards per punt, 10.5 net yards per kickoff, and 20.4 yards per kickoff return, WKU always had an edge in field position, which is a dangerous proposal with that offense. The RedHawks can’t expect to win games when they’re playing that poorly on ST.