It’s always hard to evaluate how good a team really is after playing a FCS team, but the Miami RedHawks showed some signs of being a team with a high ceiling after beating Tennessee Tech in the way that they did. The positions that needed to step up against Iowa did so against TTU, and the real test for the ‘Hawks is coming next week when they hit the road to take on the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Battle for the Victory Bell.
Quite the Catch(es)
Both Dominique Robinson and Jalen Walker had a big first half against TTU as they combined for five receptions for 120 yards. Miami needs these two to develop into reliable pass-catchers for Brett Gabbert to complement Jack Sorenson and Andrew Homer in the passing game, and Saturday was a step in the right direction. Robinson and Walker weren’t flawless (the former dropped a sure touchdown on the first drive and the latter fumbled the ball away later in the first quarter) but they showed that they can be vital to this Miami offense.
What a Rush
The RedHawks were able to have some success in the ground game against the Eagles as they rushed for 190 yards and five scores, but what stood out was who was having the most success. Tyre Shelton almost outrushed TTU by himself as he ran for 65 yards on 11 carries while the Eagles only mustered 74 yards on 36 rushes. Maurice Thomas and Davion Johnson were much less effective in the first half as they accounted for 39 yards on 14 rush attempts, but added 23 yards on three receptions. Miami needs to figure out how to best utilize their backs as having a back average 1.9 yards per carry (like Johnson did) in the rotation isn’t going to cut against the defenses it’ll face this season.
Brett the Game Manager
While his stat line for the first half isn’t overwhelming (10-17 for 152 yards, two rushing touchdowns), Gabbert was more effective at sustaining drives and keeping the Miami offense on the field this week as the team went 6-11 on third down and 2-2 on fourth down in the half. He didn’t put the ball at risk, which is a big reason why the ‘Hawks were able to turn seven red zone trips into five touchdowns. A lot of Gabbert’s incompletions were either throw aways or drops, a promising sign that should translate well for Miami when it gets into the meat of its schedule.
Big Play Bart
Bart Baratti put together the best performance of the first half as he registered a sack and a pick-six as the defense held TTU to 1-6 on third down in the half. Having Baratti maintain his disruptive play for the defense continue from last year (nine TFLs, five QB hurries, three sacks, and an interception) will be huge for the defense going forward as they struggled to make any sort of disruptive plays against Iowa. Despite the defensive backfield turning receivers loose at different times in the half, the splash plays the defense was making were killing TTU drives and making life hard for the Eagles.
The Third Phase
Outside of a couple free kick out of bounds penalties, the Miami special teams were downright dominant in the first half against TTU as the home team’s average starting field position in the first half was the TTU 42-yard line while the Eagles’ average starting position was their own 26-yard line. Having great special teams complement the other two phases is a big deal going forward as field position can dramatically impact the close games that Miami is going to find itself in this season.