The RedHawks enters their 2015 campaign a different team than the one that showed flashes of being a good football team a season ago. Quinten Rollins, Andrew Hendrix, and David Frazier III all have moved on from Miami, which leaves the team with a lot of production to replace as it opens with Presbyterian on Saturday, a team that knocked off two ranked FCS opponents in 2014.
The Blue Hose, who went 6-5 last season including FBS beatdowns from Northern Illinois (55-3), NC State (42-0), and Ole Miss (48-0), boast a sound defense led by Ed Britt, who scored two defensive touchdowns in addition to his three interceptions in 2014. The unit allowed 378.5 yards per game a season ago, but tightened up in the red zone as it gave up red zone touchdowns only 43% of the time.
The offense is more hit-and-miss for Presbyterian, as the team rushed for 174 yards per game while quarterbacks threw for six touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season. Darrell Bridges and Blake Roberts combined for 786 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, and will continue to be part of a committee of running backs in the team's run-heavy offense.
Stopping the Presbyterian attack is the job of Miami's defense, who was 100th in the country last season when it came to stopping the run. Saturday's game will ultimately come down to the front seven of the 'Hawks, with senior linebackers Kent Kern and Joe Donlan making plays in the running game while ends Bryson Albright and JT Jones trying to contain the outside runs of the Blue Hose. The interior on the line has to hold up, and it's debatable whtether they have the girth yet to control the line of scrimmage.
Offensively for the Red and White, it will be Drew Kummer's first start of his career at QB after a three-way battle for the position with Gus Ragland and Billy Bahl. Kummer, who has thrown for 320 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his career, will have no shortage of weapons to throw the ball to as Sam Martin, Jared Murphy and Rokeem Williams combined for 99 receptions for 1,603 yards and 12 touchdowns. The tight end position may be a bit of an issue in the passing game this season as the team only returns six receptions from a season ago.
A quarterback's best friend is a good running game, and the RedHawks look to be more committed to its ground attack in 2015 after last season where they were 122nd in the country in rushing. Spencer McInnis, Alonzo Smith and Kenny Young all look to get touches as McInnis had 64 rushes for 246 yards as well as eight catches for 99 yards while Smith and Young were redshirted in 2014. Smith is the more powerful inside runner of the two while Young has gamebreaking speed that makes him an asset both in the backfield and in the slot.
However, an offense is only as good as its offensive line and Miami has some questions up front as it returns only two 12-game starters from last season in Trevan Brown and Collin Buchanan. Saturday's game gives an opportunity for the new starters to work together in a game situation against a FCS front that's a little undersized.
For the offense to have success, it needs to be able to run the ball consistently as teams averaged nearly 190 rushing yards against Presbyterian. After the ground game is established, the team can then give Kummer some work throwing the ball through either play-action or simple reads. If Miami can do these things, they'll be able to put points on the board against the Blue Hose.
What's your opinion, Hustlers? Will the RedHawks be able to cruise past Presbyterian or will the 'Hawks be in trouble against an FCS opponent for the second straight year?