July 18, 2012

Opponent Preview: The Miami RedHawks

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With the Urban Meyer Era fewer than 50 days aways from kicking off in Columbus, we at Buckeye Grove- with some help from our friends in the Rivals.com network- have decided to take an in-depth look at each of Ohio State's opponents for the 2012 season. Today, we'll be examining the Buckeyes' first opponent of the season: the Miami RedHawks.

When Urban Meyer leads Ohio State onto the field for the first time as the school's head coach on Sept. 1, the team looking on across the field from the Buckeyes will be the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks. Led by one of the Mid-American Conference's top quarterbacks and a second-year head coach, the RedHawks are welcoming the opportunity to take a part in such a historic game in Ohio Stadium history.

Spearheading Miami's spread offense attack is fifth-year quarterback Zac Dysert. A player who's considered to have NFL potential, the 6-foot-4 Dysert threw for 3,513 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2011.

RedHawks radio play-by-play announcer Steve Baker said that the RedHawks' signal-caller is worth the hype.

"I believe he's going to have the opportunity to play at the next level. Good, heady player. Has gotten better obviously each year," Baker said. "Always seems to make the right decision, not afraid to run although that's not his No. 1 thing."

Despite the Buckeyes' returning 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Braxton Miller, Baker said that if Miami has an advantage anywhere on the field against Ohio State, it's in the passing game.

"I know what (Dysert) gives us and how heady of a player is," Baker said. "Our wide receiver corps- I'd put them up against anybody."

That RedHawks receiving corps consists of a pair of returning starters in junior Nick Harwell and senior Andy Cruse. Harwell was Miami's leading receiver a season ago, hauling in 97 catches for 1,425 yards, and nine touchdowns.

While the RedHawks' passing game is nothing to scoff at, their running game was less than impressive in 2011. In fact, it ranked dead last in the nation, with no Miami running back compiling more than 328 yards on the ground.

"You can't anywhere but up, but that's going to be a key focus I'm sure of the coaches," Baker said. "We maybe only had two or three games where we started the same offensive line and that never spells anything good for your running game."

The RedHawks' run game- or lack thereof- can't be viewed as anything but a positive for the Buckeyes, who will start two true sophomores at linebacker in Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant.

On the defensive side of the ball, Miami returns six starters to its 4-3 scheme, including safety Pat Hinkel, who recorded 70 tackles in 2011. Some holes could be there for Ohio State running backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith, as the RedHawks ranked 75th in the country in defending the run.

Entering head coach Dan Treadwell's second year at the helm of the program, Miami is coming off of a 4-8 season that saw the RedHawks lose their first four and final three games. Baker, however, said that there is great optimism in Oxford that the program is headed in the right direction.

"When you talk to this seniors in this class, they've played for several different coaches obviously in their careers and you go through a learning curve no matter what anytime there's a new coach or a coaching staff," Baker said. "This team has been through the paces of learning all the new terminology and the way the coaches do different things."

Despite coming off of a lackluster season, Baker said that he doesn't expect the RedHawks to be overwhelmed by the atmosphere that Ohio Stadium and Meyer's first game in Columbus could bring, even if it likely won't lead to a Miami victory.

"This program has a history of playing in big games and being in big games and winning their share of them. Theses guys have all been in that situation," Baker said. "We are talking about the Ohio State Buckeyes and I don't think anybody is going to be confused as to who they are and everything else."

The Buckeyes and RedHawks 12 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 1 will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

You can follow Steve Baker on Twitter @RedHawksVoice.


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