The Miami RedHawks were selected as MAC East favorites at the conference’s preseason media day. One major reason why was the presence of All-MAC quarterback Brett Gabbert, who returned for his fourth consecutive season as Miami’s opening week starter.
However, the RedHawks may be without their star quarterback for a significant portion of this season. Gabbert left the opener against Kentucky in the fourth quarter after sustaining an upper-body injury. Head coach Chuck Martin anticipates that Gabbert will be absent from the lineup for an extended period of time.
“He’s going to be out for a while,” Martin said in his Monday press conference. “We don’t have a timetable on him yet, but he’s not going to play for a while.”
Gabbert missed one contest in an abbreviated 2020 season and three in 2021. Without Gabbert for the coming weeks, Miami loses a veteran quarterback fresh off a spectacular year with 2,648 passing yards, 26 touchdowns to only six interceptions, and bowl MVP honors. Prior to the injury Saturday, he completed 20-of-28 passes against a Wildcat defense, attaining 166 yards through the air.
He left the matchup on Miami’s final drive of the game with around three minutes left, enduring contact while completing an 8-yard pass to Mac Hippenhammer as his team faced an already-lopsided 37-13 deficit.
“We play these money games and it’s fun and exciting for the fans, exciting for the players, exciting for the coaches, exciting for everyone,” Martin said. “The negative is you’re playing an SEC football team for four quarters. If you play well, then it becomes a four quarter battle from a physical standpoint. It’s better if you don’t play well and things get out of hand, then you get your twos and threes in, where we played our starters from start to finish.”
With Gabbert out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, the RedHawks turn to redshirt freshman Aveon Smith, who appeared in four games in 2020 and 2021 in addition to Saturday’s opener. Smith completed 2-of-4 passes for 13 yards and absorbed one sack in limited action against Kentucky’s defense.
Smith was buried on the depth chart in prior seasons, as A.J. Mayer served as Gabbert’s second-string quarterback. However, Mayer transferred to Arkansas State this offseason, opening up an opportunity for Smith to serve as the relief quarterback.
“He’s been here for a while,” Martin said. “He hasn’t had opportunities to grow, even in games where we got backups in. He’s really athletic. He’s smart. He can do a lot of different things within our offense, running and throwing… This is what he’s been preparing for, for three years.”
Smith will make his first collegiate start Saturday at home as Miami hosts Robert Morris of the FCS. However, the new quarterback will be lacking support from key offensive starters who also sustained injuries Saturday. Martin confirmed in his press conference that starting left tackle Sam Vaughan is “probably out for the season” and starting tight end Jack Coldiron will not play “for at least a week or two.”