Head coach Don Treadwell and his Miami (OH) Redhawks check in at number 62 on our 2013 College Football Countdown, and it’s a year in which they will look to get the program back on a winning track. After enjoying an impressive turnaround between 2010 and 2011, the Redhawks went stagnant last season, finishing at just 4-8. With eight offensive and six defensive starters returning for coach Treadwell, turning the ship around may be a distinct possibility.
With that, let’s take a look at the 62nd-ranked team on our countdown, the Miami (OH) Redhawks:
School-record holder Zac Dysert is gone, meaning it’s time for senior Austin Boucher to emerge as the clear-cut leader of the offensive unit. With Dysert battling injuries throughout his career, Boucher does have game experience. He started the final four games of the 2010 season, including their victory in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. But, securing that job won’t be easy as he’ll have some stiff summer competition from talented youngsters Drew Kummer and Austin Gearing.
Whomever the QB is, he’ll have the school’s second all-time leading receiver to throw to in Nick Harwell. Harwell is about 530 yards away from becoming number one on that list, and his expected breakout season should push him over that hump.
Out of all the skill positions on this roster, running back is where the improvement is needed. Projected starter, sophomore Jamire Westbrook, was the team’s leading rusher last season from the RB slot, but with only 376 yards on 92 carries. He’ll more than likely split time with fellow sophomore Spencer Treadwell. If that duo can become effective rushing the ball, that’ll open things up significantly for the passing game, which is especially crucial in the MAC.
Half of the eight returning starters on offense, thankfully, are on the offensive line. Marcus Matthews, Treavan Brown and company weren’t exactly stellar last years by any means, but a year of experience under their belt hopefully will lead to enough improvement to give the skill players room to work.
Two-time All-MAC DT Austin Brown returns this year after being granted a medical redshirt. His return should help what was certainly a porous defensive line unit last season. The ‘Hawks defense allowed 242 rushing yards per game last year. Saying that this stat needs to improve immensely is quite the understatement.
The linebacker group is led by returning senior Chris Wade. After making a name for himself last season by earning Third Team All-MAC honors, he’ll be leading the charge for the position, joined by sophomores Kent Kern and Josh Dooley, who each gained experience last year as freshmen.
In the secondary, First Team MAC CB Dayonne Nunley will anchor the unit, coupled with Jarrell Jones opposite him. Redshirt freshman Jay Mastin and junior Brison Burris man the safety positions. Together, these four will try to improve upon last year’s 227 passing yards given up per game. While that number isn’t bad considering the conference they play in, lowering that a little certainly wouldn’t hurt.
After opening up 2013 against conference foe Marshall, the ‘Hawks will have three strong out-of conference contests against the Kentucky Wildcats, Cincinnati Bearcats and Illinois Fighting Illini. With Kentucky in transition mode and Illinois not expected to impress, winning two out of those three isn’t out of the question.
With the slew of starters returning, this team can find themselves back in a bowl game if the improvements do come. The quarterback position is key here. If Boucher can lead this team through an entire season like he did for the final four games in 2010, then the offense should flourish. The talent is here on this team to possibly double that win total from 2012, and get back to business as usual, as was the case during the time period from the late-90s through the early 2000s.
Jack is a College Football Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Jack on Twitter @JackJ14RS