As a Miami fan, the RedHawks (1-1) latest showing against the Buffalo Bulls (2-0) is difficult to comprehend. The fact that the ‘Hawks lost wasn’t much of a surprise; what was surprising was the way they were thoroughly and utterly dominated in the 42-10 loss. Let’s see what we can unpack from this game and see if there’s any way Miami can salvage this season.
Where did the defense go?
The most surprising thing about the game was how easily the Bulls were able to throw the ball on a defense that was supposed to be a strength for this team. This defense made Kyle VanTrease look like Matt Johnson circa 2013: he had 353 yards and four touchdowns on less than 30 attempts. The rushing defense didn’t help matters as it allowed 205 yards and two Jaret Patterson TDs.
We are a third of the way through the season and Miami last in the MAC in passing yards allowed per game, and 11th in total yards allowed as well as third down conversions allowed. Make no mistake: the RedHawk defense is the worst it has ever been under Chuck Martin and were it not for ill-advised Drew Plitt pass, Miami would be 0-2 right now because of it.
I don’t think it’s a coaching problem, although the offseason and not having any games before the MAC season has made a lot of defenses look worse than they actually are. However, Miami has too much talent on defense to be playing the way that it’s playing right now. If they don’t get right mentally, they won’t win very many games in 2020.
With the defense playing as poorly as it was, it was up to the battered RedHawks of Miami’s offense to try to keep this close and... it didn’t. The ‘Hawks only mustered eight pass completions on the night as they went 3/14 on third down. It wasn’t like the Bulls completely overwhelmed them either: only three TFLs, zero sacks, and an interception (pretty modest numbers for a defense).
Being down several starters didn’t help the cause, but there’s really no excuse for offense with this much experience (remember, this is AJ Mayer’s third year in the program) to have this kind of a showing against a defense that’s not that dominant. Everyone across the board needs to be better, but the WR room was especially disappointing considering that’s basically the only position that’s injury-free for the RedHawks.
The good thing for the RedHawks is that they get the chance vent some frustration against a flawed Ohio Bobcats team (1-1) next week at home. The ‘Cats looked listless against Akron, but they’ll be up for the Battle of the Bricks as they try to avoid losing to Miami for the third year in a row.
Ohio will feature a lot of De’Montre Tuggle on the ground and Shane Hooks through the air, so the defense will have a chance to right some wrongs and what it’s capable of in 2020. The defense for the Bobcats forced three turnovers against the Zips but was gashed on the ground, so Miami may have an opportunity the move the ball a bit. This may be Miami’s last chance to remain in contention for a MAC East title in 2020, so let’s hope for a more spirited effort this coming week.