FB SPRING PRACTICE -- Installation/Evaluation/Defense
BY MIKE SMITH
When it comes to spring football, just about any program has at least a little something new to install. Some years can have more than others, such as following a head coaching change.
That, of course, is not the case at Miami where Chuck Martin is now in his 10th year at the helm. Still, he says, "You're always looking at some new things. You have some new personnel or some new ideas."
Two groups, however, experience . . .
Brett Gabbert beats the blitz with a check down pass to Kenny Tracy (MVSmith/MRO)
. . . total installation as they come in with a virtual blank slate. "We love the group that has come in," Martin said after his RedHawks reached the halfway point of spring practice. "It's still kind of early in the spring," he continued, but "even for the transfers, its a totally new offense (or) totally new defense."
"They're all drinking through a firehose right now," he said of transfers and freshmen. "For them, it's all install. Every play is new."
Feeding transfers or freshmen too much can muddy the waters to the point where it undermines evaluation, which Martin noted was a very important part of spring.
"How much do you install," Martin said. You "try to get kids in and look at them. Mostly try to get kids into positions and let them go play -- see who can line up in 11-on-11 football and play the game the right way and make plays. ... We do tons of team in spring."
PORTAL GIVE AND TAKE
As with most teams, MU took some hits with the transfer portal. It also picked up some talent. "That's all part of the transfer portal," Martin said. "We lost some good guys that we certainly wouldn't want to lose, ... (but) we gained some guys that are doing a really good job. That's just the way it is. ... (Now) there's opportunites for other guys."
While the potential is there to hit certain position groups particularly hard (e.g. Miami's defensive line heading into 2022), Martin said MU's transfer losses were spread out. As for the new RedHawks, Martin observed, "We love the group that has come in -- transfers and freshmen."
Miami's defense has been among MAC leaders and the unit was a cornerstone in 2022 after MU lost quarterback Brett Gabbert for much of the year. Despite a couple notable absences, Martin indicated the RedHawks "D" has a chance to be shine again in 2023.
"You lose John Saunders (Ole Miss) and you lose Ryan McWood (graduation), (but) you've got pretty much every one else back intact. So, you'd like to think that they would even be improved with as many guys as we have back on that side of the ball. But, every year is new and every year is different. If they take their foot off the gas, then we won't be as good. But we have an opportunity to hopefully continue to grow and get better.
NEXT: MARTIN LOOKS AT THE OFFENSE IN SPRING PRACTICE ARTICLE 2
Editor-Publisher Mike Smith
Mike grew up in Mid-American Conference football and basketball territory and returned there after military service. He has been covering MAC football and men's basketball for much of the last several decades.