RedHawks seek to end skid
When Miami opens its 125th football season Saturday night at Marshall, the RedHawks will be in a position not necessarily familiar to Thundering Herd fans - trying to break a four-game losing streak.
But that's what coach Don Treadwell is dealing with as he enters his third season. He is 8-16 at Oxford, suffering through two 4-8 seasons.
The 2012 season started well enough - 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference - but the RedHawks suffered a 1-6 finish. Oddly enough, that final win was a 23-20 win over rival Ohio, then ranked 23rd in the country.
Miami was picked fifth in the Mid-American Conference preseason poll, for several reasons: That finish, the loss of long-time quarterback Zac Dysert and star receivers Nick Harwell and Andy Cruse, plus general youthfulness.
Those young RedHawks travel to Marshall to take on the Herd at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. Kickoff Saturday is at 7 p.m., with the game airing on CBS Sports Network.
How young is this team? It numbers 12 seniors, 14 juniors, 23 sophomores and a whopping 51 freshmen - 16 of the redshirted variety. But be advised: The senior class is not bad.
The most decorated is cornerback Dayonne Nunley, who has 12 career interceptions and is the lone returning All-MAC honoree. He has been a first-teamer twice.
He leads a defense that, much like that of Marshall, is seeking redemption. The RedHawks ranked 100th in scoring defense (34.9), 104th in total defense (467.7) and 119th in rushing (241.1).
"We definitely had some issues on defense last year; it wasn't one of our strengths," said Wes Williams, defensive end and a team captain. "We had some pretty key injuries that hurt us as well. I feel like we had a great offseason, and we just finished up a great camp, and I'm forward to seeing what our defense can do."
Offensively, it's just plain wrong to call Austin Boucher a new quarterback.
He's a fifth-year senior and has proved himself under pressure - he went 4-0 for an injured Dysert as a redshirt freshman in 2010, winning the MAC championship game over Northern Illinois and the GoDaddy.com Bowl over Middle Tennessee State in Mobile, Ala.
Boucher was named MVP and picked up a nice perk - a kiss on the cheek from Danica Patrick.
"He's just been behind the scenes, waiting for his opportunity," Williams said. "He couldn't be more pumped to take the field."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.
Miami (Ohio) at Marshall