I've never had the pleasure of meeting Jordan Rinard. I have to assume he is a man of great determination and generosity, for you see, he has dedicated a good part of his time to covering Miami football for Hustle Belt. That my friends is a Mother Teresa-esque level of good will.
Norman Miller on the other hand has the dubious pleasure of covering Northern Illinois Huskies football. A job so prolific that I can refer to myself in the third person.
The NIU/Miami contest should be about as one sided as a Sean Rodriguez/Gatorade cooler fight. But like anyone facing the death penalty, we'll give Jordan his chance at some last words.
Norman: There's one area where I think the RedHawks can stand toe-to-toe with the Huskies: Uniforms. Miami doesn't always play that well, but they are sharply dressed. I'm trying to make this not so one-sided, I really like their uni's.
Jordan: Here's where you're wrong, Stormin' Norman, the unis are bad too. In all seriousness, Miami has had their struggles recently, yes, but it more than held its own against the Huskies last. following a week where they had another MAC blowout. The RedHawks have faced some stout defenses in the first half of the season (Wisconsin, Kent State, and Ohio come to mind) and it only gets easier this week with a team that gave up 41 points last week.
Norman: NIU has struggled a bit offensively this season in regards to consistency. And by struggle I mean they're only second in the MAC in points per game instead of first. Care to guess who's last?
Jordan: It's pretty easy to be inconsistent when your team is trying to turn a pedestrian quarterback into an All-American (HI, JORDAN LYNCH). If NIU has been inconsistent on offense, Miami has been schizophrenic. After amassing 400 yards of offense against Cincinnati, the 'Hawks have been unable to run the ball effectively and the quarterbacks have been turning it over left and right. Billy Bahl did ok in his first start last week throwing downfield, but critical turnovers really put them in a hole. For them to win any game, the offensive line needs to play better: last week there was nowhere to run and Bahl was basically running for his life from opening kick on.
Norman: I guess I could say the RedHawk defense has been decent. They gave up 20 to Kent st., who averages 18.5/game. They gave up 34 to Ohio, who averages 28.8/game. If we extrapolate that out with NIU's average of 33.3/game, can we expect something around 42? I just have to know who's going to be stopping Kenny Golladay this Saturday?
Jordan: No one, if the front seven doesn't start to make plays. If you can't win either side of the line of scrimmage, you're not going to win very many games, and MU is finding that out the hard way. Teams average 23.5 first downs a game against the Red and White this season, and it's hard to expect anything different this week against a team that hung 50+ points on them last season. But what about NIU's defense? How can you give up 40+ points to a MAC West team and still have any credibility?
Norman: Miami did manage to stay close with an at least competent Cincinnati squad from the AAC before falling 37-33. What was that all about?
Jordan: The 'Hawks played their best game of the season, rushing and passing for 200+ and forcing four turnovers. Had they been able to actually score points off those turnovers (only scored a field goal), maybe Miami would get respect from a conference it once defined. But alas, we're stuck with Chuck Martin bringing a rubber mallet to a gunfight week after week with a suboptimal roster.
Norman: Since not too many people follow Miami football, is there any one on the field for the RedHawks we should give a damn about?
Jordan: Bahl is obviously a guy you'd want to watch closely Saturday. He has the biggest arm of anyone at Miami (he made some big throws down the field to Rokeem Williams and Jared Murphy last week) and turned down a B1G offer (Rutgers) to come to Miami, so he obviously has talent. After getting his first game out of the way, he should be more comfortable and be able to take advantage of the turnstiles that you call NIU's defense.
Norman: Without the aid of a hallucinogen or a concussion, can you think of a scenario where this game is close?
Jordan: It will be close, because the Huskies gave up 40+ points last year to Miami team that had a worse roster than the current RedHawk team. MU will be able to move the ball against Northern, and if they can keep the turnovers to a minimum, this will make for a wildly entertaining game in Oxford. The defense is a wild card for the 'Hawks with as much freshmen as they play, so if they can at least contain the run, it could make for Chuck's signature win at Miami, before Miami gets really good in a couple of years.