Courtesy of MCT
As the first opponent of Ohio State football in Urban Meyer’s tenure as head coach, the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks football team could soon be the answer to a trivia question.
Miami coaches, however, say they have been preparing for the trip to Ohio Stadium like any other game.
“The first thing you do is you take care of yourself,” said offensive coordinator John Klacik. “You take care of your base, your fundamental things that you’re going to do no matter who you’re playing. We don’t know what they’re going to come out and do, so we’ve got to be ready for everything. I think if you have a base package that can handle everything they can throw at you, then you’ll be much better off.”
The RedHawks are looking to improve upon a regular season record of 4-8 from last season, which was coach Don Treadwell’s first season at Miami after four years as Michigan State’s offensive coordinator.
Treadwell said the focus of Saturday’s game is on what he can control within his own team rather than on its opponent.
“Obviously we just have a tremendous challenge in front of us on this first game,” Treadwell said. “We just lock in to us playing and performing at a level that we believe is our best. We’ve just got to keep playing every play and then continue to do that from play one to whenever the last play is.”
Still, Treadwell said his team is “aware of the tremendous team that Ohio State is.”
“We see (OSU) in our mind as a top-five program,” Treadwell said. “We do have familiarity of knowing and appreciating and respecting the great Ohio State.”
The RedHawks ranked 14th nationally with 299.1 passing yards per game last season. That offense was led by two returning players - senior quarterback Zac Dysert, who had 3,513 passing yards in 2011, and junior wide receiver Nick Harwell, who ranked fifth nationally with 1,425 receiving yards.
Klacik said the play of the offensive line will have a major effect on Dysert’s ability to pass against the OSU defense.
“The first thing you’ve got to do when we get any quarterback like Zac (Dysert) is you’ve got to protect him,” Klacik said. “If we give him some time, I think he can make some plays for us. If we have trouble protecting then it doesn’t matter who we’ve got playing quarterback for us, it’s going to be a tough day.”
Another concern for the Miami offense is its ability to run the football. With only 886 rushing yards for the entire season last year, the RedHawks were the only team in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision, which was 120 teams, to have less than 1,000 total rushing yards for the season.
Klacik said he expects the rushing offense to be better this year as a result of a more experienced offensive line.
“If you looked at our first game last year, when we had our (offensive) line going into the season, we were actually pretty good against Missouri, and then we got some injuries,” Klacik said. “We’re hoping that we’ve got a solid front of guys that are ready to play, they’re more veteran, they’ve played in some games.”
Klacik added that he thinks OSU is “solid from top to bottom” on defense.
“I think the whole defensive front stands out,” Klacik said. “I like (OSU’s) front four guys, and then their linebackers are so quick, very impressive. They’re a total team because they’ve got some secondary guys that can run and cover, and aren’t afraid to come up and hit you either.”
Harwell said he and his teammates are not setting specific goals for the season opener.
“It’s a privilege to play against Ohio State,” Harwell said. “We’ll just go out and play hard. We really don’t have any expectations, we’re just going to go out and play as hard as we can, and if we take care of business then the score will take care of itself.”
Opening kickoff at Ohio Stadium is scheduled for noon on Saturday.