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2018 MAC Football Preview: Miami RedHawks at Bowling Green Falcons

Who is the dweller that will come out of the cellar?

Bowling Green v Miami Ohio Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Bowling Green Falcons (1-2) and Miami RedHawks (0-3) will be fighting to save their respective seasons when they meet up this Saturday as BG’s defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed in the first three games (gave up 58 to Oregon, 45 to Maryland, and 35 to FCS Eastern Kentucky) while the RedHawks have scored a whole three points in two games on offense. The teams at a crossroads and one has the opportunity to right the ship for a week.

Bowling Green has shown some signs of being productive on offense as Jarret Doege has been efficient at quarterback with 654 yards, a 64.4 completion percentage, and a 9:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio in BG’s Air Raid offense. Quintin Morris and Scott Miller have taken advantage of their opportunities in this offense with 32 catches, 390 yards, and six TD’s between them. The Falcons need to get some more out of their running game, because 2.4 yards per carry in league play isn’t going to cut it.

The defense for BG has struggled mightily this season as it has allowed 348.3 rushing yards per game, 8.8 yards per pass attempt, and 11 red zone touchdown on 13 opportunities. However, Brandon Harris is a landshark with 31 tackles this season and the unit forced a lot of turnovers so far with five fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

The special teams for the Falcons is pretty solid as freshman Ra’veion Hargrove is a volatile kick returner with a long of 33 yards this season. However, Nate Needham only has two touchbacks on 16 attempts while Grant Tinnerman has only pinned offenses inside their own 20-yard line a couple of times on 21 opportunities.

Miami has been pretty miserable to watch on offense since the Marshall game, and the loss of James Gardner for the season doesn’t inspire confidence in this group. The ‘Hawks have yet to have 100 yards rushing in a game this season and the passing game led by Gus Ragland has been held under 140 yards in the past two weeks. However, the loss of Gardner means an opportunity for someone else to take charge and Dominique Robinson, who previously played quarterback at Canton McKinley High School in Ohio, gets his first start this week and is a dynamic athlete.

The defense for Miami is coming off of its best game of the season against Minnesota as it recorded ten TFLs, five sacks, and two takeaways. In that game, DeAndre Montgomery was a force with 15 tackles and a sack while Doug Costin played a whale of a game up front with 3.5 TFLs and a pair of forced fumbles. The defense held the Gophers to 2.7 yards per rush and under 180 yards passing, so the defense has been holding up its end of the bargain.

Special teams have been decent for Miami this year (the punt to set one of Marshall’s scores notwithstanding) as Kyle Kramer has boomed six 50+ yard punts this year and has pinned opposing offenses inside their own 20-yard line eight times, while Sam Sloman has recorded five touchbacks on kickoff this season. The return game for the RedHawks has yet to affect the field position battle as Kenny Young only has 4.4 yards per punt return while both Jaylon Bester and Maurice Thomas have an average kickoff return of 20.5 yards.

For Bowling Green to win, it has to find a way to have success against a defensive unit that has been tough to move the ball against in MAC play in the past couple of seasons. Doege will have to be patient and take what the defense gives him, or the offense won’t be on the field for very long on Saturday. For Miami to win, they have to focus on the ground game against such a porous defense to take some pressure off of Ragland and the passing game to carry the RedHawks every week. Expect Thomas to continue to get more touches while Robinson gets some key targets in the passing game. Special teams can decide this game since the ‘Hawks might get some opportunities for big returns and Hargrove has already proven himself to be a playmaker. The team with the better coverage units will likely win the game. 24-20 Miami in a nailbiter.