Darwin might like RedHawks style(s)
By MIKE SMITH
According to Head Coach Chuck Martin, of the many things that have contributed to Miami's 5-1 start, one is the team's ability to adapt.
The RedHawks, it might be said, have thus far proved very adept at adapting while facing a variety of offensive styles. Winners of five straight, they'll need to keep adapting in order to keep winning. The next several weeks are filled with diverse challenges as MU battles Broncos, Rockets and Bobcats.
The first matchup of that mid-season MAC run is Saturday when MU visiits Kalamazoo. It will face a Western Michigan team that is 2-4 overall after a 41-28 loss at Mississippi State last week. The Broncos are 1-1 in MAC play.
Miami Head Coach Chuck Martin touched . . .
. . . on WMU during his Monday media meeting. He noted the Broncos have played a tough schedule, with non-conference losses at Syracuse, No. 25 Iowa and Mississippi State. Western Michigan has split two Mid-American Conference tilts, blasting Ball State 42-24 and falling to preseason MAC favorite Toledo 49-31.
"They were up by 10 with six minutes left in the third," Martin noted of WMU's upset bid at Toledo.
The Rockets, whose only season loss was by two points at Illinois, rallied down the stretch against WMU, scoing 35 of 42 second half points.
Martin pointed out new Western Michigan head coach Lance Taylor is a former running backs coach. Generally speaking, that would suggest his teams would place a strong emphasis on running the football successfully. To an extent, the Broncos are doing that. Freshman Jalen Buckley (5-11, 210) ran 29 times for a total of 196 yards with two touchdowns against Toledo. On the year, he is averaging 5.9 ypc and has five touchdowns. His average of 111.4 ypg is tops among MAC rushers. As a team, WMU (173.0 ypg) is third in rushing, just a yard behind Miami (174.0 ypg) and about 75 yards behind Toledo (248.7 ypg).
"They do a lot with the RPOs and in their up-tempo stuff, so it will be similar to Kent (in) that they like to push the pace and get you on your heels," Martin said of the Broncos offense.
Defensively, he noted WMU "has always been salty on defense" and has the same defensive coordinator, but it is dealing with significant personnel turnover.
The Broncos rank last in scoring defense, surrendering 36.7 ppg. They are 10th in total defense (410.8 ypg), eighth in rushing defense (161.5 ypg) and ninth in passing defense (249.3 ypg).
-- Asked about injuries from Saturday, Martin said, "Maybe because it was such a short game and so few plays, (but) we came out of it good."
-- Martin said the BGSU game was "bizarre,' in some respects. One notable fact was that each team had just seven possessions. "I've never seen a seven-possession football game in college," he said.
-- Bowling Green's seven possessions resulted in five punts, a missed field goal and an interception. The Falcons registered just 135 yards of total offense.
-- Anticipating a wind factor, Martin was set to defer if MU won the toss. "We were going to try to get a stop and make them punt into the wind," he said. "They won (the toss). They deferred. We got the ball and methodically marched down the field," finishing the 17-play drive with a touchdown. "The huge advantage of having the wind was negated by having a really good first drive and a good stop defensively."
By the time Bowling Green touched the ball a second time, half of the second quarter was already gone. "That set the tone for the whole game," Martin said.
-- Down 14-0 at intermission, the Falcons took the second half kickoff and put together a 15-play drive. That, however, stalled after 47 yards. Alan Anaya tried a 46-yard field goal, but it was off the mark. Miami put up 10 points on its next two drives, while BGSU's second possession of the half lasted just four plays before Ty Wise picked off a Falcon pass.
-- Each team had just one turnover on the day. (BGSU - interception, MU - fumble)
-- The RedHawks eventually registered 47 runs and just 18 pass attempts. Gabbert completed 15 of those attempts. He now tops all MAC QBs in pass efficiency (174.1). He is tied for first in touchdown passes (12) and second in average passing yards per game (205.3 ypg). The latter comes despite ranking eighth in pass attempts (123).
-- "We ran the ball 47 times," Martin said. That was "not necessarily the plan, but it was the way the game flowed. We didn't necessarily knock them off the ball . . . but our backs did a good job of being patient and getting a lot of tough yards."
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.