- Time and Date: Saturday, September 10, 2022, at 6 p.m. Eastern time.
- Network: ESPN+ (A valid subscription is required for viewing.)
- Location: Yager Stadium in Oxford, Ohio
- Spread/Total: Miami is a 38-point home favorite, with an over/under of 55, per OddsShark.
- All-time series: First meeting
Getting to know the RedHawks
The Miami RedHawks hung tough against a Kentucky team which has potential SEC championship aspirations this past weekend, with a performance that was closer than a 37-13 final score might indicate.
The RedHakws picked up 290 yards on one of the better defenses in the SEC, while also outpacing the Wildcats 111-50 in rushing yards. They were even able to nab an interception on Kentucky, picked up more sacks (four to three), and also held UK to 2-of-8 on third-down and 0-of-1 on fourth down.
The main issue for Miami was converting drives into points, alas, as they went 3-of-14 on third-down, ended five drives with punts and found the red zone exactly once.
They’ll go into this game with several questions, as they suffered several unfortunate injuries, including one to all-MAC QB Brett Gabbert in the late minutes of the game, leaving redshirt freshman Aveon Smith to get the start without their top left tackle Sam Vaughan (out for season) and top tight end Jack Coldiron (week-to-week.)
Smith should have a reliable backfield to depend on for rushing yards, as this team is built to grind the ball on offense. The seemingly eternal Tyree Shelton returns as the lead back (50 yards on seven attempts), while Keyon Mozee (25 yards on seven carries) will split responsibilities. Smith will likely have to contribute from the QB spot as well, as Gabbert’s dual-threat ability has made the team dangerous in the past.
Former Penn State receiver Mac Hippenhammer is the team’s first and most reliable pass-catching option, pulling down 85 yards and seven receptions against Kentucky last week, nearly doubling the next-best receiver’s receptions, while tripling the next-best receiver’s yards. Other options include Indiana transfer Miles Marshall and Jalen Walker (31 catches, 398 yards, four touchdowns.)
Defensively, the RedHawks are an aggressive unit, which emphasizes stopping the run and forcing turnovers. Miami was a top-three defense in the MAC in 2021, keeping teams to an average of 23.1 points per game while allowing just 368.8 yards per game. They also fielded a +5 turnover margin, 38th best in the country.
The heart of the RedHawks defense are in the linebacking corps, with Matthew Salopek (112 tackles in 2021) and seventh-year senior Ryan McWood (99 tackles, 5.5 tackles-for-loss, two sacks in 2019, his last full campaign) in the middle. Cornerback John Saunders Jr. returns as the team’s interception leader (three in 2021) to lead a rebuilt secondary featuring two transfers as well some promising underclassmen in Ja’don Rucker-Furlow and Jacquez Warrren.
The RedHawks specialists usually highlight the MAC, with Graham Nicholson (15-of-20 on field goals, 37-of-41 on extra points in 2021, with a long of 49 yards) and Dom Dzioban (38.4 yards per punt on average) kicking and punting, respectively.
Getting to know the Colonials
The Colonials are coming off a one-score loss to the Dayton Flyers of the Pioneer League at home last weekend, and will hit the road for the first time this season when they travel to Oxford.
They’re lead by fifth-year coach Bernard Clark Jr., who is a record 13-24 at the position, including 4-6 last season. The Colonials faced a MAC team in 2021 to kick off their season, losing to Central Michigan by a final score of 45-0, as they were a team then majorly-affected by COVID.
There’s intrigue at the quarterback position, with juniors Anthony Chiccitt and Jake Simmons taking snaps at the position. The two QBs combined for 296 yards and one touchdown against Dayton, with a 62 percent completion rating.
This is a team who loves spreading it out amongst the receivers. RMU had 10 receivers notch at least one reception last week, with Findlay, Ohio’s own Parker Fetterman leading the way with five receptions for 53 yards. Morgan State transfer Devon Mondy came down with the Colonials’ lone touchdown reception on four catches for 23 yards.
The Colonials also utilize their running backs in the pass game, with first-team all-Big South back Alijah Jackson being a focal point of the offense. Last week, Jackson had 73 total yards (23 rushing, 50 receiving), while running mate Anthony Purge also pulled down a 24-yard reception and a rushing touchdown.
Defensively, this is a team which could surprise the RedHawks, as they have a handful of all-Big South performers who could make an impact against a first-time starter at QB.
The Colonials defense is highlighted by first-teamers in defensive back Sydney Audiger (55 tackles, two tackle-for-loss, one interception, six pass break-ups), former Florida State defensive lineman Rico Watson (37 tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss, eight sacks, interception, forced fumble) and second-teamer Jamar Shegog (70 tackles, 7.5 tackles-for-loss, one sack.)
UAlbany transfer Joe Casale led the Colonials with 13 tackles (including 10 solo stops) and a sack against Dayton, and will likely factor in to this week’s performance as well.
George Sounders III (38 net yard average vs. Dayton) is the starter at punter, while RMU did not attempt a field goal. It’s understood there’s a battle between sophomore Jayson Jenkins and senior Sam Webster.