Miami had the odds stacked against them as they took on #15 Iowa on the road, but the RedHawks showed some flashes of what they could be in 2016. They made a fair amount of mistakes, sure, but the ‘Hawks have feel pretty good about how they competed against a potential Playoff team. Here’s five takeaways from the match-up.
- Billy Bahl is the real deal. The true sophomore quarterback had himself a day against Iowa, going 19 of 29 for 266 yards and two touchdowns, as well as some big pass plays with a 67-yarder to Rokeem Williams and a 29-yard scoring strike to James Gardner. You’d like him to be a little more accurate, but Bahl played really well under the circumstances.
- Miami can run the ball now. After some rough years on the ground, the RedHawks finally had some success on the ground on Saturday with 158 yards on a good Power 5 defense (180 yards when you take away Bahl’s sack yardage). The running back stable made their mark with Alonzo Smith getting the lion’s share of the carries while Maurice Thomas and Kenny Young generally made the most of their touches.
- The ‘Hawks need to stop losing the turnover battle. Miami fumbled the ball three times on Saturday, all of which resulted in Hawkeye touchdowns. As efficient as Iowa is on offense, you have to take care of the ball against good teams if you expect to win. Look to see a better turnover margin against Eastern Illinois next Saturday.
- Ditto for the field position battle. The best field position that the Red and White had all day came in the third quarter when they got the ball on their own 26-yard line. Meanwhile, Iowa had shorter fields pretty consistently with drives starting at their own 32-, 36-, and 48-yard line as well as two drives beginning in the red zone. The special teams have to improve if they want to compete in a wide open MAC East in 2016.
- Red zone defense has to improve too. Iowa scored five touchdowns in six ventures into the red zone, which put the offense in the position of keep-up against a team that doesn’t turn the ball over a lot. The defense has to find a way to create stops in the critical situations and give their young offense some room for error.