After a disappointing start to the season against Western Kentucky, Mark Stoops and staff look to recover in their inaugural home game against Miami (Ohio). It’s never easy taking a loss to an in-state opponent which is just a few years removed from playing FCS football, but the Miami RedHawks appear to be an opponent in which recovery is possible. As it stands currently, Vegas sees the Cats as 17-point favorites this Saturday, and after seeing Miami’s crushing defeat to Marshall, it’s pretty easy to see why. Of course, it’s early in the season and Kentucky is coming off a defeat as well, so it’s anyone’s guess as to if that line is accurate or not. Regardless of what Vegas thinks and the stats say, it’ll be interesting to see if the Cats can recover on the field Saturday at noon. Because many are uncertain about the RedHawks and what they’ll bring to the contest, I went back and researched numerous parts of their strategy to see what lies ahead.
Some clips of Miami in action against Marshall last week.
While it’s known that Mark Stoops specializes in defense, head coach of the RedHawks, Don Treadwell, is the opposite as he’s been an offensive coordinator at Ball State, Cincinnati, and Michigan State before his time leading the RedHawks. However, in his time as head coach, the offense has failed to take off. The below table tells Miami’s offensive history with Treadwell at the helm.
As you can see, things haven’t been ideal for Treadwell in his time as Miami’s head coach. The scoring offense has been pitiful, as has the rushing efficiency. None of these final rankings have exceeded 90th place nationally which tells a significant part of the story. While these stats should be comforting to Kentucky fans, Miami isn’t a primary rushing team. Using last season as an example, the RedHawks passed 495 times compared to their 339 rushing attempts. Knowing this ratio and Kentucky’s weakness in the secondary, this is the biggest cause of concern for Stoops and Eliot’s defense. Given our struggles in the secondary, it’s paramount that the defensive line applies pressure to the quarterback and plugs the RedHawk rushing attack this week.
Much like Don Treadwell’s offense, and outside of 2011, Jay Peterson’s defense hasn’t been much to write home about during his Miami tenure. Much like Marks Stoops and D.J. Eliot, Peterson’s base defense is a 4-3 with a few nickel and dime looks depending on the opponent’s offense. However, unlike Kentucky’s two defensive minds, Peterson’s defense, as a whole, doesn’t have the numbers to claim anything close to elite status. The below table tells the story.
Other than Peterson’s first season, where he inherited a ten win team from the previous year, his defenses haven’t been very good in the time since. After 2011, his squad hasn’t been ranked within the top-100 nationally in scoring defense. It’s difficult to evaluate a coach after one game, but the numbers haven’t exactly defended him in his time as the defensive coordinator. Even in 2011, when the scoring defense was ranked 39th nationally, the only efficiency category (listed above) in which his defense was ranked within college football’s top half was passing yards surrendered per attempt. Although statistics after one game aren’t always indicators of the entire season, Miami shouldn’t feel comfortable with this match-up.
After reviewing the numbers throughout their coaches history and seeing the previous week’s results, this game shouldn’t be very difficult for Kentucky. Emphasis on shouldn’t. The overall RedHawk team isn’t very strong this season as evidenced by their first game statistics. One final fact to be aware of is Miami’s first week opponent, Marshall. They’re also an Air Raid team. In my mind there are two ways to interpret this. One, Miami had an extra week to prepare for Kentucky as they faced a similar style the week before. Two, Miami faced the similar style one week before and had no answer for the attack. Given that Maxwell Smith and his perceived better passing ability are starting Saturday against Miami’s weak passing defense, I believe it’s the latter of the two scenarios that will show come Saturday.