After a wild finish in Oxford on Saturday, the Miami RedHawks have some positive things and some negative things to take away from their contest with the Marshall Thundering Herd. The team needs to take advantage of this learning opportunity as they go into rivalry week against the Cincinnati Bearcats, or else it could be looking at an 0-2 or 0-3 start in 2018.
1. Penalties are drive-killers
The ‘Hawks had a number of bad situations in terms of down-and-distance thanks to the penalties that stalled out some drives and made things more difficult for the offense that they needed to be. The early season tends to be characterized by sloppy play, but eight penalties for 71 yards (most of which were on offense) is not winning football. This has to be cleaned up going forward.
2. Still looking for an answer up front
Marshall could do whatever it wanted to in the run game as it rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns Saturday. It seemed like they were always able to get to the second level wherever it decided to run the ball. Somebody on the defensive line needs to step up in the run game so that this doesn’t happen again.
3. Efficiency is key
Miami left a lot of yards on the field Saturday. Despite throwing for 357 yards and four touchdowns, Gus Ragland fired off 21 incompletions on the night and got 0 yards on five rushes. Adding to the offensive woes was 87 team rushing yards with Alonzo Smith leading the way with 35 yards. Finally, the offense wasn’t very good in the downs that mattered as it went 5-15 on third downs, 2-5 on fourth downs, and was 4-5 in scoring red zone TDs.
4. A WR Complement?
Despite all the things that went wrong for the Red and White on Saturday, one of the few positives was Jack Sorenson stepping up at receiver. He was a big play threat with three catches for 106 yards and a score as Marshall held James Gardner to four receptions for 62 yards. It will be big for Miami going forward if Sorenson sustains this production.
5. Need to have special special teams
For the most part, the special teams for the ‘Hawks did pretty well on Saturday. The only exception was late in the fourth quarter with a poorly hit punt by Kyle Kramer enabled a 50-yard return and ensuing score for the Herd. Miami can’t afford these kinds of mistakes in close games and needs to be effective in this phase if it’s going to get to where it wants to go.