This is going to hurt.
Not only does yours truly have to defend the indefensible in Miami football, but has to do it against Brandon Fitzsimons, the Belt's resident boat expert and horse savant ahead of the RedHawks' match-up at Western Michigan, as the Broncos just did the MAC a huge favor in blowing out Ohio last week in Athens.
Let's see what Fitz has to say about the dark horses of the MAC, and debate whether this game can even be lost by WMU.
Jordan: So the Broncos beat two dirt-average offenses to kick off the MAC season. Congratulations, P.J. Fleck can get a gold star for a week. What makes the Broncos think that they can waltz in and stampede over Miami?
Fitz: CMU didn't look too "dirt average" over Buffalo and NIU. So, ummmm...............yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Well, Miami is coming to Waldo where the Broncos will celebrate their Homecoming as well as having Education Day. Ergo, there will be lots of alums and little kids to terrorize the Miami players and coaches. Oh, and the fact that WMU has a ton of good players that have curbstomped your most hated rival, the likely #2 team in the MAC Least.
I have lots of reasons to think WMU will knock Miami around like Mike Tyson fighting your grandma, but I'm just gonna go with the 1-2 tandem of Corey Davis and Daniel Braverman at wide-out to obliterate the RedHawk secondary.
Jordan: First, Buffalo and NIU's defenses make a lot of offenses look good (save for Miami, but we'll get to that). I find it hard to believe that a team that threw for 137 yards last week will be able to have a ton of success against young secondary that's getting better every week and is coming off of NIU where it held the Huskies to 203 yards through the air.
Also, lol at the one day a year that Western Michigan cares about education.
Fitz: HEY NOW! I'm a proud alumni of Western Michigan University. They are the reason I can live comfortably and afford nice things like TVs and solid food you don't have to microwave to eat. Education Day is more of a way to say "hey, for $12 you can come and do kid friendly things before the game, then get a hot dog and chips and watch FOOTBAWLLLLLLLLL".
Anyways, you don't have to throw for 300+ when you run for 400 yards IN A HALF. Seriously, the monster continues to grow heads. First, it was Jarvion Franklin. Then, we added Jamauri Bogan. Now LeVante Bellamy wants to join in the fun? Oh man, good luck stopping that. Seriously, I think Terrell throws sometimes just because he gets bored.
But not even NIU's defense can make Miami's offense look good. Isn't Chuck Martin a former offensive coordinator? What's going on there, buddy? Other than the Cincy game, Miami hasn't been able to put more than 2 scores together against an FBS opponent. Hell, you only scored 26 on Presbyterian!
Jordan: I'm not going to sugarcoat it. Puntin' Miami is back in full force. The team does have some intriguing skill players on both sides of the ball, but Miami will never have a winning season until it addresses the line play. For two weeks, MU's offensive line couldn't get movement on running plays and Billy Bahl has not had time to make good decisions. Add the inability of the front seven to control the line of scrimmage and be disruptive, you have a recipe for losing football. And with the team playing so many freshmen, you wonder about the team's confidence heading forward.
But what about the Broncos defense, which has given up over 30 points per game this season? I can't imagine the match-up of Miami's offense versus Western's defense is battle that inspires confidence for either side.
Fitz: Well, part of it is the schedule. WMU has played two National Championship contenders, a really solid offense in CMU, and the triple option of Georgia Southern (who is 11th in scoring offense this year at 40.3 pts/game despite opening with a shutout loss to West Virginia with their back-up QB). The other part is the fact that the Broncos are still quite youthful on that side of the ball. The secondary is almost entirely new after graduation nuked that group. As for the box, Grant DePalma has been dealing with an injury early forcing some younger guys to lead, but he was back against Ohio and you saw what happened. They are getting better, but there are still kinks to work out. Nothing too troublesome against this MU offense though.
But do you honestly think a team that can't win the battle at the line can stop the Bronco run game? Do you think that secondary can stop the tandem of Braverman and Davis? I mean, Davis is projected to be a NFL draft pick!
Jordan: As you may have guessed, I am irrationally optimistic about this team. But, when Miami was having some relative success in the first three games of the season, they forced seven turnovers in that span and gave their offense more chances than they deserved. They'll have some turnover opportunities this week as Zach Terrell isn't a great pure passer and the Broncos are more of a run oriented team anyway, so I don't expect the team to go off throwing the football.
Running the ball is a different animal though as Miami gave up 300+ rushing yards last week. The combination of the front seven not being physically able to stop the run and playing a bunch of freshmen at every level of the defense has not went well for them this season. Hopefully WMU throws it every down just to keep the game interesting.
Fitz: I can tell you from watching this team that you have no idea how this team operates. Terrell is a very smart passer. He doesn't make mistakes often, if ever. He makes the smart throw about 95% of the time, and has great receivers to make the play for him. Add in the fact he has that running game to open up the pass, and Terrell has the perfect offense for any quarterback, really.
Since the first two games, Terrell has thrown just 1 interception: against Ohio State. The two he threw against Michigan State were (1) tipped and (2) a corner fade with 2 minutes left in a two score game that Davis lost track of. His only really bad game was Georgia Southern, but that was just an awful game all around for the team, one I don't expect to be replicated the rest of the way. (you don't get hit in the groin like that twice).
Honestly, the only thing I'm looking for in this game is to see if Andrew Haldeman can continue to make consistent strikes on the football. Since missing a short field goal against CMU, he hasn't missed anything, hitting two field goals and 10 straight PATs. While that doesn't sound like much, it's a start for a guy whose confidence really appeared to be heavily shaken. What special teams play are you looking for? Darius Phillips return TDs?
Jordan: As far as special teams go, Maurice Thomas can be a future star in this league as an all-purpose guy. A true freshman returning kick offs, he set Ohio high school records little up the road at Talawanda and brings much needed speed to the RedHawks.
The kicking game for MU leaves a lot to be desired. The team has missed a number of makeable field goals and haven't been consistent punting the ball either. Being at a disadvantage in every phase may be why Miami is a 23.5 point underdog, against a team that is 1-2 against the spread as a favorite, so there is an incredibly small chance that this game will be competitive. What say you?
Fitz: This game will be competitive.........for maybe a quarter, if that. Then the Broncos should be able to turn it on and fly past the RedHawks. I hesitate to use "trap game" because I think that'll be more for the EMU game, which is a road rivalry game before the meat of the MAC schedule. I see no reason that WMU can't cover and we can get more Tom Flacco "is he #elite" action late. The Broncos are just too good at every position to not think this should be over by the half.
Jordan: The game will start at 0-0 Saturday so it'll definitely be close at the outset. There's some things to look forward to in the battle between flightless birds and sea-horses. Here's to future adaptations by our animal mascots *clinks glass*.