RedHawk defense faces potent Buffalo offense
By MIKE SMITH
It’s Week Five of the 2021 football season, and that means a full slate of conference games is on tap. It’s time to turn it up a notch -- at least with what you have left after non-conference play.
For a team like the Miami RedHawks, the two-deep took some hard hits early with quarterback Brett Gabbert and tackle Sam Vaughn sustaining what are probably season-ending injuries at Kentucky. Those, along with other injuries, have altered the RedHawks on both sides of the ball. However, it is most pronounced on offense.
Miami’s offense projected to be a pass-heavy unit capable of scoring points in bunches. What the Buffalo Bulls will see is likely a much more deliberate
As for what Miami might see out of Buffalo, last week’s 50-31 UB victory over Eastern Michigan in an early MAC opener, offers some clues. Both teams punted just once apiece in an offensive slugfest. Buffalo rolled up 498 yards with a balanced attack -- 201 yards rushing and 297 through the air.
Miami leads the all-time series 16-8, with the first 10 meetings going to MU. The RedHawks have also taken four of the last six matchups. Buffalo’s last win was a 42-10 home field victory in 2020. The RedHawks returned the favor with a 45-18 win last year in Oxford.
Here’s more on the two teams . . .
MIAMI REDHAWKS (2-2)
>> MU was a preseason media pick to win the MAC East, but the injury to All-MAC (Third Team) quarterback in Week One has the RedHawks looking at longer odds.
>> Despite significant losses up front, the Miami defense is again among the MAC leaders. The RedHawks are tops in scoring defense (25.8 ppg), second in total defense (353.5 ypg), first against the rush (83.5 ypg; 2.8 ypc) and fifth in pass defense (270.0 ypg). They rank third in defensive pass efficiency.
>> Coming into the season, passing offense was a RedHawk strength. Gabbert’s injury hit MU hard. Miami is currently last in pass passing offense (137.3 ypg) and 10th in pass offense efficiency.
>> Freshman QB Aveon Smith is now atop the depth chart and started MU’s last three contests. He has completed 48.5 percent of his passes with six TDs and two interceptions. He has been sacked eight times.
>> Although tackle Sam Vaughn was lost against Kentucky in Week One, the RedHawks offensive line has experience. Miami has been working to improve the run game and managed to produce 216 yards on the ground last week at Northwestern.
>> Keyon Mozee keyed the RedHawks last week, running for 171 yards on 21 trips. His 66-yard fourth quarter run set a Miami touchdown that tied the game at 14-all.
>> Sophomore kicker Graham Nicholson has made all nine PAT tries this year and is five-of-eight on field goal tries. He went one-of-three against Northwestern, hitting the right upright on his first attempt. His second try was blocked at the line. Nicholson’s long for this year is 38 yards.
>> Miami played turnover-free football against NU and forced two Wildcat fumbles. It also blocked two punts, with one setting up a key Miami touchdown right before intermission.
>> Miami held Northwestern to 107 yards rushing. Standout RB Evan Hull, who previously topped the nation with 203 total yards per contest, was limited to a total of 72 yards.
>> Former Penn State receiver Mac Hippenhammer, now in his second year with the RedHawks, is Miami’s top receiver. He has 176 catches for 219 yards and four TDS.
>> Linebacker Ryan McWood led MU with 11 tackles (10 solo) at Northwestern. He is second among MAC defenders with 23 solo tackles and an average of 10.5 stops per game.
>> Caiden Woullard, who blocked a punt at NU, has three sacks to his credit (2nd MAC).
BUFFALO BULLS (1-3)
>> UB’s balanced offense and zero turnovers helped the Bulls own 38:37 of possession time against EMU.
>> Kyle Vantrease is gone (Georgia Southern), but former Rutgers QB Cole Snyder has moved into the role and has completed 61.6 percent of his pass attempts, good for 1,026 yards with seven TDs and two interceptions. He has been sacked 11 times.
>> The Bulls rank fourth among MAC teams in passing offense (260.0 ypg and are fifth in pass efficiency. UB is ninth in rushing offense (131.8 ypg).
>> Buffalo is fourth (MAC) in total offense (391.8 ypg) and seventh in scoring 29.3 ppg)
>> Justin Marshall and Quian Williams are the Bulls top receivers. They have combined for 45 catches, 595 yards and six TDs.
>> Mike Washington leads UB rushing with 56 carries for 218 yards and three scores. Ron Cook junior has shared the lead, logging 53 carries for 200 yards.
>> The Bulls are allowing 34.3 ppg (8th MAC). LB Shaun Dolac tops the MAC in solo tackles (25) and is fourth overall with an average of 9.8 hits per game overall.
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.