COLLEGE FOOTBALL 2012 PRESEASON TOP 25
MAC East PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Don Treadwell, 8-16 (2 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: John Klacik | DEF. COORDINATOR: Jay Peterson
Austin Boucher finally gets his chance to be Miami’s full-time starter at quarterback after patiently biding his time while backing up record-setting Zac Dysert. The left-handed senior has experience, going 4–0 as a starter and leading the RedHawks to wins in the 2010 MAC title game and the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
Nick Harwell was poised to set school receiving records as a senior, but he won’t return to the team due to off-the-field issues. With Harwell out of the picture, juniors Dawan Scott and David Frazier are the top two targets for Boucher. Four letterwinners return at tight end, giving the offense plenty of depth at that position in 2013.
Miami will live or die by the pass since most of the same faces return from a rushing attack that ranked 12th in the conference and 118th in the nation with only 86.6 yards per game. Sophomore Jamire Westbrook and junior Spencer Treadwell, the head coach’s son, had the most carries among the running backs. Besides his passing prowess, Dysert also was Miami’s second-leading rusher with a net of 265 yards.
Offensive line experience might help create more balance. Of the 60 possible starts by the five-man line last season, players who made 42 of them return.
Defensive tackle Austin Brown missed 10 games last season with a back injury, and it showed in the RedHawks’ rushing defense, which ranked 11th in the MAC. A healthy senior season by Brown, paired with the experience of Wesley Scott (four starts in ’12) at the other tackle, would go a long way toward improving that ranking.
Two more seniors, ends Mwanza Wamulumba and Wes Williams, lead returning players in sacks with 2.5 each.
Senior outside linebacker Chris Wade, who led Miami with 128 tackles last season, will be counted on to lead an inexperienced linebacking corps that lost two starters. Williams could also see time at middle linebacker, where he played three games last season.
Junior safety Brison Burris ranked second on the team in tackles. He and senior cornerback Dayonne Nunley return to lead the secondary. Sophomore safety Marshall Taylor and junior cornerback Chrishawn Dupuy will graduate to full-time jobs after making a limited number of starts last season.
Significant strides have been lacking in Don Treadwell’s first two seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, and the climb is shaping up to be steep again in 2013, the 125th season of Miami football. After completing 12 consecutive winning campaigns, the RedHawks have finished below .500 in six of the last seven seasons. The non-conference schedule seems to be a little easier, with Kentucky and Illinois replacing Ohio State and Boise State.
Boucher proved his raw talent in 2010, but he’s going to have to quickly knock off the rust to get the most out of his one season at the helm. He might end up among the team’s rushing leaders again unless one (or more) of the top three returning ball-carriers shows dramatic improvement. The running game will be better, but not eye-popping.
Defensively, good health will go a long way toward overcoming inexperience issues.
Treadwell, the former Michigan State offensive coordinator who briefly served as the Spartans’ head coach when Mark Dantonio had a heart attack, is counting on a large group of seniors not only to lend experience on the field, but also to school the younger RedHawks in the Miami tradition, of which he is very fond. It won’t make a difference if Miami can’t put together some type of sustained rushing attack that would give Dysert some much-needed space and limit the number of minutes the defense has to spend on the field.
The RedHawks defense will face enough punishment in their opener at Ohio State in what will be Urban Meyer’s ballyhooed debut as the Buckeyes’ coach. Visits to Boise State and Cincinnati won’t be helpful going into the meat of Miami’s MAC schedule.