After fading away in the second half in the way that they did against the #20 Iowa Hawkeyes, the Miami RedHawks will be looking forward to their reprieve next week against Tennessee Tech before getting into the rest of their brutal nonconference slate. Despite the setback, we learned a good bit about the 2019 ‘Hawks and history is any indication, the coming weeks should represent tangible improvements for the team.
Gabbert is the BMOC
For the first time in school history, Miami started a true freshman at quarterback. Brett Gabbert definitely looked the part as he went 17-27 for 186 yards, a pair of scores, an interception, and only took one sack. Those would be good numbers for a true freshman starter at home, but to be that productive on the road against a Top 20 team is awfully impressive for a young QB. Gabbert wasn’t perfect by any means (he needed to be better at managing the game in the second half against Iowa) but his play had to be encouraging for both the coaching staff and Miami fans. Give credit to Chuck Martin for pulling the trigger on starting him; there’s not many coaches out there that would’ve trotted out a true freshman in that environment.
What’s the Rush?
Miami was much less successful in the running game (25 carries for 59 yards as a team) and that certainly played a factor in the loss as the RedHawks had to put more on the shoulders of Gabbert. The trio of Davion Johnson, Maurice Thomas, and Jaylon Bester accounted for 56 of those yards as they were unable to create explosive plays against a stout Iowa defense (longest run of the night for Miami: nine yards). The ‘Hawks have to find a way to create more big plays in the running game going forward to give some balance to the offense and to protect their young quarterback over the course of the season.
The most unheralded position group in football is the offensive line and Miami’s line did a tremendous job against a very good Iowa front seven. Aside from the one sack, the line only allowed another TFL of -1 yard and a QB hurry. Also, Iowa’s stud defense end A.J. Epenesa only registered one tackle over the course of the game. In these types of games, not taking negative plays and controlling the defense’s best player will give you a chance, and Miami definitely had their chances on Saturday.
Coming in Clutch
Miami left its share of yards and points on the field in critical situations, and good teams like Iowa are going to take advantage of those miscues. The RedHawks were 4-12 on third down conversions in the game (0-5 in the second half) while the Hawkeyes went 9-14 and dominated time of possession with nearly 36 minutes. Iowa had four more possessions in the red zone and scored every time it got in that area. Miami has to get better at situational football going forward (i.e. not get flagged on a substitution penalty on fourth-and-one) if it’s ever going to reach its full potential.
Against teams like Iowa, you have to do two things on defense and special teams: you have to create good field position for yourself and you have to get the opposing offense “off schedule”. Miami had the edge in the field position battle for most of the game outside of the late Gabbert interception, so a lot of credit needs to be given to the RedHawk special teams for making Iowa earn their scores. However, the ‘Hawks weren’t as disruptive as they needed to be on defense as the only TFL they recorded was on an intentional grounding penalty. Kobe Burse registered the team’s lone QB hurry while Zedrick Raymond picked up Miami’s only PBU. The RedHawks have to get better at being disruptive and make things difficult for the offense.