MU in refresh and refocus modes for home opener
By MIKE SMITH
Depending upon one's point of view, last week's Miami victory over Cincinnati might be considered the RedHawks biggest win in over a decade. In recovering a Victory Bell trophy that had been in area rival Cincinnati's possession for 16 years, the RedHawks set off a huge celebration on the streets and watering holes of uptown Oxford.
As joyous as that occasion was, a part of this week's preparation for Delaware State is for the RedHawks to put the Cincinnati win behind them.
It doesn't matter who we're playing next," Miami Head Coach Chuck Martin observed Monday. "Getting back to . . . playing your best football (the) next week is hard. You have . . .
. . . a great road win, (and) it's always hard to come back."
Delaware State's 0-3 record might also add to MU's refocusing challenge, and Martin noted his squad is "a pretty beat up football team" heading into Week Four play.
"We've got to bounce back physically. We've got to bounce back mentally. We've got to bounce back emotionally and get refocused," Martin concluded.
This is the first meeting between Miami and Delaware State.
-- The Hornets are an FCS-level team playing in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. They were picked sixth/last in the preseason MEAC poll voted on by league head coaches and sports information directors.
-- After a season-opening 22-11 loss to Bowie State, the Hornets were shut out 57-0 at Army.
-- It was Hornets vs Spiders last week at Richmond, with the Arachnids posting a 38-6 win. Richmond scored 21 straight second quarter points while building a 24-3 halftime edge. DSU's Jonathan Cardoza-Chicas booted his second field goal of the day for the only third quarter points. Richmond then added two fourth quarter TDs to close out scoring.
-- Richmond outgained the Hornets 402-249.
-- Delaware State freshman Marqui Adams completed 12 of 23 passes, good for 140 yards with one interception.
-- Wade Inge and Myles Morales each caught three passes, combining for 102 yards.
-- Senior DB Romell Harris-Freeman and senior OL Sam Pearson were preseason First Team All-MEAC selections. Junior OL Isaiah Cook, redshirt junior LB Maurio Goings and sophomore kicker Nathan Wilson were second team members.
-- This is Miami's first home game of 2023.
-- The RedHawks are coming off an emotional 31-24 overtime win over Cincinnati last week. That ended a 16-year draught for Miami in the series.
-- Not only did the upset win come in front of a sold-out crowd at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, it was MU's first overtime ever and first win over a Big 12 team.
-- UC outgained Miami 538-358 overall, but the RedHawks red zone defense limited Cincinnati to 24 points in eight red zone trips. When Yasyn McKee blocked a Bearcat field goal try with 19 seconds remaining, it forced overtime. A Brett Gabbert-to-Joe Wilkins TD pass to plays into overtime put Miami in front 34-24. The RedHawk defense then sealed MU's win with a fourth down interception by McKee.
-- Four RedHawks had double-digit tackles against UC: Matt Salopek (18), Jacquez Warren (13) Ty Wise 10, 1 TFL) and Brian Ugwu (10, 1 TFL).
-- McKee and Corban Hondru recorded interceptions.
-- Brett Gabbert, who missed most of 2022 with injuries, was once again a key factor Saturday. He completed 12 of 20, good for 237 yards with three TDs and one interception against a physical and talented Cincinnati defense. Although not known for running, he carried nine times for a team-high 75 yards. Two of the carries set up touchdowns.
-- Gabbert's top target over the first two weeks was Gage Larvadain. The Southeast Louisiana transfer caught just one ball against UC, but that was on the first play from scrimmage and went 79 yards for a touchdown. Fortunately for MU, Three other RedHawks caught three passes apiece, combining for 145 yards and two more TDs.
-- Special teams has been a plus for Miami in recent years and was a key factor at Cincinnati. Graham Nicholson, who has not missed a field goal or extra point in 2023, hit a 20-yard field goal and four extra points. Punter Alec Belvelhimer earned MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week honors after averaging 52 yards on four punts, with three pinning the Bearcats inside their own 20. Meanwhile, McKee came through with a game-saving block on Cincinnati's field goal with 19 seconds left.
-- Through three games, the Miami offense is averaging 19.0 yards per completion, which ranks third in the country. Two weeks ago Miami threw for 302 yards on just 12 completions (25.2/completion) and last week at UC recorded 237 yards on 12 completions (19.8/completion).
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.