What looked like another match-up between the Miami RedHawks and a vaunted Big Ten opponent in the #6 Ohio State Buckeyes turned into something else this week, as Miami head coach Chuck Martin had some thoughts on the game against OSU in a teleconference Monday with Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch:
“Obviously a great, great football program, great, great football team. Very well-coached, loaded with talent at every position. There’s a physical mismatch. None of the kids that were recruited to play at Ohio State were looking to play at Miami-Ohio and vice-versa. I said it’s kind of like going to recess and they have the first 85 picks. You can do pretty well at recess... The good thing for us is that we have kids who are excited — our Midwest kids, our Ohio kids — getting to play in the ‘Shoe, getting to play against the caliber of team that Ohio State is to see how you stack up… they’re really, really excited about this opportunity.”
There’s a lot to digest here. While Martin doesn’t say anything here that is untrue, it’s at the very least odd to spend time focusing in the talent disparity between the two teams when time could be better spent promoting your brand of football and using this game as an opportunity to get better. The end of the quote is more encouraging, but the optics aren’t good and the Miami contingent is thoroughly displeased to say the least.
As for the actual game, a lot of things need to go right for Miami to be competitive in the game as they opened as 37-point underdogs. The strength of OSU’s defense is up front, so trying to run the ball with Tyre Shelton to shorten the game will be a challenge. Brett Gabbert will have to find a way to sustain drives in a tough road environment and will have to get the ball out on time in order to avoid negative plays.
Defensively, the ‘Hawks will have their hands full with Justin Fields and his complement of weapons as the OSU offense has looked unguardable to this point in the season. The good news for Miami is that Kameron Butler emerged as a disruptor last week with four TFLs and a pair of sacks against a good Cincinnati team, and the team will need all the disruption it can generate to get the Buckeyes off schedule. Big plays did the defense in last week so the challenge for this week will be to make OSU earn its yards, which can be a great opportunity to get better before MAC play starts.
The problem with games that have such a big talent disparity between team is that field position typically favors the more athletic team. This will be a big week for Miami’s special teams unit as it is coming off of a lackluster performance against the Bearcats and will have to execute at a high level to keep Ohio State from having a short field on every drive. If there was every a week for your coverage teams to be disciplined and make things hard for the opposing offense, it’s this week.
As far as predictions go, I’d expect Miami to have a very short leash with Gabbert if the game gets out of hand early. With a whole MAC slate to go, you don’t want to expose your true freshman QB to a beating if the game has already been decided. If Miami is having trouble moving the ball and getting stops, I wouldn’t expect him to play more than a half. No matter what happens in this game, all your season goals are still on the table after this week so you can’t let one bad day at recess define your season.