Miami-OH: Beyond the Box Score Offensive Preview

Confused?  Catch up with the BTBS Primer.

We wrap up the non-conference previews with, well, as sure an FBS win as there is on this schedule.  Sorry.  No other way to say it.

It doesn't seem so long ago that Miami was the MAC's flagship program.  From 2001-03, Big Ben Roethlisberger roamed the pocket, shed would-be tacklers, threw for almost 11,000 yards, and led the Redskins Redhawks to a 27-16 record, 20-5 in the MAC.  Even when Big Ben departed, Miami held on, winning 15 combined games in 2004-05 and almost taking home another MAC title.  The collapse since then has been jarring.  UM has gone just 11-38 since 2006, winning fewer games in four seasons than they did in Big Ben's final season alone.  Both the Redhawks and Big Ben had fallen on hard times, for very different reasons, and it is yet to be seen which will bounce back first.

2009

Record: 1-11 (1-7 in the MAC)
F/+: 109th
S&P+: 105th
Scoring Margin: -18.6 per game
Conference Scoring Margin: -12.4 per game
Wins (F/+ Ranking in parentheses): #97 Toledo
Losses: #9 Boise State, #14 Cincinnati, #50 Kentucky, #59 Northwestern, #66 Temple, #69 Ohio U., #73 Bowling Green, #77 Northern Illinois, #80 Buffalo, #98 Kent State, #99 Western Michigan

The 2009 season was one of youth, injury, and more youth for the Redhawks.  With an extraordinarily young roster in Coach Mike Haywood's first season, Miami really never had a chance.  They were outscored 127-13 by their three Top 50 opponents and did not fare much better against everybody else.

Really, I'm not sure any further analysis is needed.  If the young players who took so many lumps last season begin to grow, then 2009 will rather quickly be a distant memory; sometimes transitions to a new coach cause temporary brutality, followed by recovery.  If the talent just isn't there and won't be any time soon, then 2010 will not be much better.

Coaching

Head Coach: Mike Haywood
Record at Miami: 1-11
Career Record: 1-11

Mike Haywood put together a pretty strong résumé over the last decade, serving under Nick Saban (RBs coach at LSU), Mack Brown (RBs coach and recruiting coordinator) and Charlie Weis (offensive coordinator).  And now he's got something else for him: as often as not, Miami coaches tend toward greatness.  Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Weeb Ewbank, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler, and JIm Tressel all have roots in Oxford, and while Haywood's first season as a head coach offered no evidence that he will one day see his name added in the same sentence as those greats, Miami clearly has a history for creating a nurturing environment for rising coaches.  Of course, that didn't help the last coach, Shane Montgomery.

Haywood's backround is mostly on the offensive side of the ball, though the fact that he served as Mack Brown's recruiting coordinator suggests that he is a charismatic presence who intends to raise Miami's recruiting profile.  The five three-star recruits (according to Rivals.com) are almost as many as Miami signed from 2005-08 (six).

Offense

Overall Ranks

F/+: 106th

S&P+: 110th
Success Rate+: 92nd
PPP+: 113th

Standard Downs S&P+: 110th
Passing Downs S&P+: 89th

Redzone S&P+: 74th

Q1 S&P+: 117th
Q2 S&P+: 100th
Q3 S&P+: 87th
Q4 S&P+: 78th

1st Down S&P+: 114th
2nd Down S&P+: 94th
3rd Down S&P+: 88th

Rushing Ranks

Rushing S&P+: 106th
Rushing SR+: 100th
Rushing PPP+: 106th

Standard Downs: 98th
Passing Downs: 85th

Redzone: 46th

Adj. Line Yards: 74th

Passing Ranks

Passing S&P+: 106th
Passing SR+: 77th
Passing PPP+: 112th

Standard Downs: 111th
Passing Downs: 81st

Redzone: 72nd

Adj. Sack Rate: 116th
SD Sack Rate: 116th
PD Sack Rate: 103rd


As with Illinois, you can say one positive thing about Miami's offense: they were decent (comparatively speaking) in the red zone.  Unfortunately, they sure didn't see the red zone much.  The fact that their success rates ranked higher than their points per play suggests that while the play-calling may have been decent, the athleticism was non-existent.  Solid quarterback play from freshman Zac Dysert bailed Miami out on passing downs at times, but there just weren't enough weapons for defenses to take this offense too seriously.

Rankings History

Category 2005
Rk
2006
Rk
2007
Rk
2008
Rk
2009
Rk
F/+ N/A* 103 115 111 106
S&P+ 57 104 114 111 110
Success Rate+ 50 102 114 103 92
PPP+ 63 103 113 113 113
Rushing S&P+ 70 104 100 111 106
Passing S&P+ 50 96 117 101 106
Standard Downs S&P+ 42 100 115 105 110
Passing Downs S&P+ 77 102 102 92 89
Adj. Line Yards 99 99 91 83 74
Adj. Sack Rate 10 107 96 19 116
* F/+ data does not exist for offenses and defenses until the 2006 season.

When Shane Montgomery took over for Terry Hoeppner in 2005, Miami was still holding on as a reasonably strong mid-major.  You see here that while their rushing game struggled a bit in 2005, the passing game was still reasonably strong.  But starting in 2006, any semblance of a strength disappeared.  Their highest ranking in 2006 was 96th (Passing S&P+), and it barely got better after that.  Montgomery departed after the 2008 season, and clearly the cupboard was all but bare for Haywood.  Haywood engineered slight improvement here -- five spots in F/+, 11 in Success Rate+, 11 in Adj. Line Yards -- but the pass protection was abysmal (some of that has to be pinned on a freshman quarterback not yet knowing when to get rid of the ball or how to avoid sacks).  Moving forward with a young offense, there is still plenty of room for growth, to say the very least.

Quarterback

Dysert pic via The Oxford Press

2009 Unit Ranking: 86th (8th in the MAC)

Projected Depth Chart
Zac Dysert (6'4, 207, So., 247-for-401 passing, 2,611 yards, 12 TD, 16 INT; 258 rush. yds, 5 TD)
Austin Boucher (6'1, 209, RSFr.)
Drew Jackson (6'2, 236, RSFr.)

Zac Dysert was the only three-star signee for Miami in the 2008, and as Miami's version of a 'star recruit', he acquitted himself reasonably well in his first season.  Starting as a redshirt freshman with little experience or talent around him, Dysert averaged over 200 yards passing per game, completing over 60% of his passes.  He had problems with sacks and interceptions, but in that situation, that had to be expected.  Though his top two targets are seniors, meaning he'll be needing to find new go-to guys next year, Dysert is in a position to improve each of the next three seasons if he stays healthy and Haywood can find some receivers to stick out there with him.

Running Backs

Merriweather pic via Zimbio.com

2009 Unit Ranking: 109th (11th in the MAC)

Projected Depth Chart
Thomas Merriweather (5'10, 214, Sr., 291 rush. yds., 2.8 per carry, 3 TD; 63 rec. yds.)
Roman Lawson (6'0, 236, So., 70 rush. yds., 3.9 per carry, 1 TD; 78 rec. yds.)
Danny Green (5'10, 203, So., 46 rush. yds., 4.2 per carry; 74 rec. yds.)

The good news is, Thomas Merriweather has seemingly been around forever and has all the experience you would want from a starting running back.  The bad news is, Merriweather has never been very good.  In 285 carries over three seasons, Merriweather has racked up just 881 yards (3.1 per carry).  A three-star signee out of Hazelwood East, Merriweather looks the part, but in three years, his career long carry is just 24 yards.  If one of the two decent sophomore backs (Roman Lawson, Danny Green) takes a decent step forward this year, it wouldn't at all be surprising to see him snag Merriweather's starting job.

Wide Receivers / Tight Ends

Robinson pic via Hamilton Journal News

2009 Unit Ranking: 113th (11th in the MAC)

Projected WR Depth Chart
Armand Robinson (6'1, 200, Sr., 788 rec. yds., 11.8 per catch, 4 TD; 4 rush. yds.)
Jamal Rogers (5'11, 172, Sr., 505 rec. yds., 9.4 per catch, 3 TD; 3 rush. yds.)
Andy Cruse (6'4, 213, So., 248 rec. yds., 13.8 per catch, 2 TD)
Chris Givens (6'2, 211, Jr., 98 rec. yds., 8.9 per catch)
Lucas Swift (6'2, 175, So., 153 rec. yds., 10.9 per catch)
DeMarco Paine (5'10, 166, Jr., Iowa transfer)
Kevin Bresnahan (6'1, 194, So.)
Glenn Miller (5'10, 182, So.)
Jason Earle (5'10, 173, RSFr.)

Projected TE Depth Chart
Steve Marck (6'3, 245, So., 72 rec. yds., 12.0 per catch, 1 TD)
Kendrick Bruton (6'4, 264, Jr., 7 rec. yds)
Rob Reiland (6'3, 242, Jr.)

Compared to the running back situation, the situation at wide receiver has to be considered a relative strength.  They have two returnees who racked up over 500 receiving yards last year, and though Miami played mostly a possession game with the pass, Armand Robinson still managed to average 11.8 yards per catch.  Added to the mix this year will be DeMarco Paine, another Hazelwood East product who originally signed with Iowa out of high school.  Dysert certainly has options of all sizes in this unit -- Rogers and Paine are smaller, waterbug types, while Andy Cruze and Chris Givens are pretty big guys.  The tight ends do not to appear even remotely threatening in the passing game.

Offensive Line

2009 Unit Ranking: 112th (13th in the MAC)

Projected Depth Chart
T Brandon Brooks (6'5, 315, Sr.)
G Nate Williams (6'5, 308, Sr.)
C Brad Bednar (6'4, 283, So.)
G Bob Gulley (6'4, 308, Sr.)
T Matt Kennedy (6'5, 308, So.)

T Ken Staudinger (6'5, 265, Jr.)
G Andrew Phelan (6'4, 295, So.)
T Josh Harvey (6'5, 324, RSFr., from Columbia!)
C John Anevski (6'3, 279, RSFr.)
G JoJo Williams (6'2, 277, So.)

If you subscribe to the theory that any experience is good experience, then Miami has a decent offensive line.  They return all five starters from last year, three of whom are seniors.  Of course, they are returnees from what was a rather weak line last season, but the good news is that things probably won't be any worse.  Any time you're in a situation where you are forced to start this many freshman (as Miami was in 2009), you are going to struggle.  But as Dysert gets more experienced and the running backs improve (if the running backs improve), then the line will likely start to show growth too.

Summary

I'm being nice here, talking up every unit but the running backs.  But while I do think this offense will take steps forward in Dysert's (and Haywood's) second year, there is a long, long way to go.  McNeese State aside, this is the weakest offense Mizzou will face this season.  The passing game has a bit of potential, but not as much as San Diego State.  Dysert has all the physical tools you would want in a mid-major quarterback, but he is still lacking in experience or support.  While Miami might be capable of pulling an upset in another year or two, that is not the case this season.

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