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The big 2015 Miami (Ohio) football guide: The right guy for a long rebuild

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The 128-team countdown turns to the Cradle of Coaches, which looks to have found another good one.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. Stats vs. eyeballs

Perhaps no team has seen its on-paper quality and win total match less than Miami (Ohio) in recent years, and for the most part, close games are to blame.

In 2009, head coach Michael Haywood took over for Shane Montgomery and improved the Redhawks to 109th in F/+, but they went 1-11 despite competitive losses to 7-6 NIU, 8-5 Northwestern, and 9-4 Temple and a win over 5-7 Toledo.

In 2010, Miami improved a bit to 94th in F/+ but saw the win total improve by an incredible nine games because of a 6-0 record in games decided by one possession (and a 1-4 record in games decided by at least 21 points). This close-game good fortune resulted in Haywood getting hired away (briefly) by Pitt. In 2011, Don Treadwell took over, and Miami's rating improved to a healthy 72nd ... as its record crumbled to 4-8. The Redhawks suffered four one-possession losses, three to teams that won at least seven games.

Over the last two years of the Treadwell era, the records matched the ratings -- 4-8 and 108th in 2012, 0-12 and 122nd in 2013 -- and Treadwell was dumped. He's now Kent State's offensive coordinator.

In 2014, however, we saw the return of weird, confusing Miami.

Former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin took over. Miami improved 19 spots, to 103rd, in F/+. You can win in the MAC by hovering around No. 100, but Martin's Redhawks went 2-5 in one-possession games. They played three teams that won at least nine games in 2014 (Marshall, Cincinnati, and NIU) and lost by just a combined 32 points but finished just 2-10.

Two wins is tangible improvement over zero, but the record didn't fill you in on how much of Miami's house Martin began to get in order. This team was close to something better. After all, I'm writing these previews in ascending order based on last year's F/+ rankings, and I've already done Ohio and Akron, which combined to go 11-13.

The bad news: the Redhawks' offense has to be rebuilt, and if you've been reading these MAC previews, you're seeing that quite a few teams were young last year and can be expected to improve.

It's a little bit crowded in the middle, and we'll see what the Redhawks can do to stand out.

2014 Schedule & Results

Record: 2-10 | Adj. Record: 1-11 | Final F/+ Rk: 103
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Adj. Scoring
Margin
Win
Expectancy
30-Aug Marshall 17 27-42 L 31% -11.7 0%
6-Sep Eastern Kentucky N/A 10-17 L 17% -21.9 41%
13-Sep at Michigan 54 10-34 L 6% -35.7 0%
20-Sep at Cincinnati 47 24-31 L 40% -5.9 14%
27-Sep at Buffalo 114 27-35 L 42% -4.9 40%
4-Oct Massachusetts 120 42-41 W 68% 11.2 91%
11-Oct at Akron 105 19-29 L 34% -9.7 23%
18-Oct at Northern Illinois 69 41-51 L 34% -9.9 11%
25-Oct Kent State 107 10-3 W 41% -5.3 55%
1-Nov Western Michigan 56 10-41 L 5% -37.7 0%
15-Nov at Central Michigan 85 27-34 L 29% -13.1 8%
25-Nov Ohio 106 21-24 L 37% -7.5 43%

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 24.6 91 34.2 102
Points Per Game 22.3 106 31.8 100

2. Happy in the middle

In the first year of a rebuild, you're just trying to catch glimpses. A team that went 0-12 the year before isn't likely to experience any sort of sustained breakthrough. (Granted, Miami had gone from 1-11 to 10-4 less than five years earlier, but that's about as much of an outlier as you're going to find.)

The beginning was bumpy -- that's the nice way of putting "they lost to Eastern Kentucky" -- but from the fourth to 10th games of the year, the Redhawks found something.

  • Average Percentile Performance (first 3 games): 18% (record: 0-3)
  • Average Percentile Performance (next 6 games): 43% (record: 2-4)
  • Average Percentile Performance (last 3 games): 24% (record: 0-3)

In terms of yardage, Miami was nearly even with Cincinnati on September 20 (370-364), and the Redhawks actually outgained Akron in a 10-point loss. The results weren't amazing, but Miami was putting up yards and points (a combined 1,071 and 83, respectively, against UMass and NIU) and showing occasional hints of encouraging defensive play (Akron and Kent State: 603 combined yards and 32 combined points). And after a dud against WMU, the CMU and Ohio performances were at nearly the same standard.

Miami may not have been good, but the Redhawks weren't bad either.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.87 53 IsoPPP+ 95.1 78
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 38.2% 105 Succ. Rt. + 91.3 104
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 32.8 119 Def. FP+ 95.0 117
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.0 95 Redzone S&P+ 91.0 93
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 24.7 ACTUAL 20 -4.7
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 88 92 103 78
RUSHING 122 84 104 73
PASSING 30 91 94 89
Standard Downs 87 113 67
Passing Downs 89 68 94
Q1 Rk 98 1st Down Rk 87
Q2 Rk 44 2nd Down Rk 75
Q3 Rk 96 3rd Down Rk 42
Q4 Rk 111

3. Bailed out by big plays

Miami's offense was historically bad in 2013, failing to top 17 points, 303 yards, or 4.5 yards per play in a game. Those would have been iffy numbers in the 1960s, much less the 2010s.

In terms of yards per play, no offense improved as much as Miami's from 2013 (3.7) to 2014 (5.5). Using the same standards, the Redhawks topped 17 points seven times, gained more than 303 yards nine times, and averaged better than 4.5 yards per play 10 times.

The Redhawks were a little too reliant on big plays, however. Down-to-down consistency was nowhere to be found, either via run (3.4 yards per carry on first down) or pass (48 percent completion rate), and the result was plenty of second-and-longs and three-and-outs. And as you see above, when Miami needed yards in the fourth quarter, they were rarely anywhere to be found.

Still ... big plays are good! Consistency is a necessity, but Miami's top four wideouts each averaged at least 14.3 yards per catch, and tight end Alex Welch (15.4 yards per catch over the last eight games) had his moments.

Martin handed the quarterbacking reins to Notre Dame transfer Andrew Hendrix, but he was only around for one season. We'll find out if the inefficiency was a feature of the system or a particular aspect of Hendrix's quarterbacking personality.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Andrew Hendrix
222 458 3280 23 9 48.5% 43 8.6% 5.9
Drew Kummer 6'3, 207 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 4 10 53 0 1 40.0% 0 0.0% 5.3
Austin Gearing 6'5, 212 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7600
Tom Tupa 6'4, 218 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7900
Billy Bahl 6'4, 214 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8470

4. Plenty of candidates behind center

Martin and Hendrix had already worked together for quite a while in South Bend, so Hendrix's transfer bought Martin some time in terms of quarterback development. In 2015, the cushion is gone.

Scheduled to return are basically the same names Martin was looking at a year ago: Drew Kummer, mobile Austin Gearing, and young Tom Tupa. Martin signed a potential keeper in incoming three-star Billy Bahl, but Kummer and Gearing both have experience that might be hard to overcome.

Not all experience is good experience. Kummer has completed 22 of 58 passes for 320 yards and six sacks. Gearing (who missed 2014 with injury) proved relatively mobile late in 2013, but his actual quarterbacking was horrific: 44 percent completion rate, 23 percent sack rate, 1.2 yards per pass attempt. Neither has proven particularly efficient, and Tupa hasn't had a chance to prove anything.

So yeah, maybe Bahl has a chance.

Whoever wins the job will be facing long odds to avoid must-pass situations. Dawan Scott, a receiver who played running back in 2014, has graduated, leaving behind a set of running backs who averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Plus, the line must replace three two-year starters from a unit that didn't generate much of a push but kept defenders out of the backfield. Martin signed a fantastic set of linemen, but the only thing as challenging as relying on a freshman quarterback is relying on freshman blockers.

Evidence suggests more second-and-longs in Miami's future. But the Redhawks might have the receiving corps to bail themselves out.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Andrew Hendrix QB
114 637 6 5.6 4.1 48.2% 10 5
Dawan Scott RB/WR
74 384 2 5.2 5.4 40.5% 1 1
Spencer McInnis RB 5'9, 196 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7300 64 246 0 3.8 2.3 29.7% 1 1
Spencer Treadwell RB 5'10, 208 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 15 55 0 3.7 3.7 26.7% 0 0
Fred McRae IV WR 5'10, 178 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7100 10 68 0 6.8 8.0 50.0% 3 2
Paul Moses RB 6'0, 223 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8191 10 32 1 3.2 10.9 10.0% 1 0
Jared Murphy WR 5'10, 180 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8026 10 28 2 2.8 4.2 30.0% 0 0
Rokeem Williams WR 6'1, 204 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8060 5 4 0 0.8 3.6 40.0% 1 0
Damon Washington RB 5'10, 189 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7600 4 15 0 3.8 1.0 25.0% 0 0
Leonard Ross RB 5'11, 195 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8028
Maurice Thomas RB 6'0, 170 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8267

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
David Frazier WR
110 59 949 53.6% 25.5% 62.7% 8.6 209 8.8 119.7
Rokeem Williams WR 6'1, 204 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8060 81 35 682 43.2% 18.8% 66.7% 8.4 220 8.2 86.0
Jared Murphy WR 5'10, 180 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8026 73 42 600 57.5% 16.9% 60.3% 8.2 81 8.1 75.7
Sam Martin WR 6'3, 189 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8181 53 22 321 41.5% 12.3% 52.8% 6.1 27 6.0 40.5
Alex Welch TE
41 24 312 58.5% 9.5% 63.4% 7.6 16 7.7 39.4
Dawan Scott RB/WR
29 18 169 62.1% 6.7% 62.1% 5.8 -50 6.0 21.3
Fred McRae IV WR 5'10, 178 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7100 14 8 60 57.1% 3.2% 78.6% 4.3 -39 4.3 7.6
Spencer McInnis RB 5'9, 196 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7300 13 8 99 61.5% 3.0% 53.8% 7.6 1 7.6 12.5
Alvonta Jenkins WR 6'1, 206 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 7 3 35 42.9% 1.6% 57.1% 5.0 -5 5.0 4.4
Ryan Smith TE 6'4, 258 So. NR 0.7000 6 5 88 83.3% 1.4% 66.7% 14.7 30 14.5 11.1
Sam Shisso WR 6'5, 214 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7865 2 1 10 50.0% 0.5% 0.0% 5.0 -3 N/A 1.3
Kelvin Cook WR 5'10, 178 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7626
James Gardner WR 6'3, 197 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8295
Cedric Asseh WR 6'2, 180 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7826








5. Who steps up?

Miami's offense was one of ball distribution. There may not have been efficiency, but there was variety.

If you include Hendrix and his 9.5 non-sack carries per game, six Redhawks had at least 75 intended touches (rushes plus targets) in 2014: Hendrix (114 for 637), wideout David Frazier (110 for 949), Dawan Scott (103 for 553), Rokeem Williams (86 for 686), Jared Murphy (83 for 628), and Spencer McInnis (77 for 345). The top three players there are now gone, but in Williams, Murphy, and sophomore Sam Martin, Miami does still have a trio of explosive receivers. And if you believe recruiting rankings, reinforcements are on the way: sophomore back Paul Moses, freshman backs Leonard Ross and Maurice Thomas, and freshman receiver James Gardner were all deemed three-star athletes by either Rivals or the 247Sports Composite.

The athleticism is exciting, but there was athleticism last year. The next step in Miami's offensive development will be geared around efficiency, and with so many new players taking on larger roles, it's hard to imagine that efficiency coming in 2015.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 100.1 2.9 3.24 39.5% 50.0% 18.4% 66.4 8.4% 9.0%
Rank 72 72 70 61 127 51 121 121 88
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Career Starts Honors/Notes
Zach Lewis LT 40
Trevan Brown LG 6'4, 307 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8000 31
Marcus Matthews C
30
Jeff Tanner RG
23
Collin Buchanan RT 6'5, 313 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7500 12
Brandyn Cook C 6'3, 303 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8604 10
Terry Davis RG 6'4, 290 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8358 1
Ryan Callen RT 6'5, 270 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8094 0
Zach Hovey LT 6'5, 247 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7793 0
Randy Heideman LG 6'6, 304 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8375 0
Jordan Rigg OL 6'5, 259 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7533
Zach Swarts OL 6'5, 270 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7583
Ian Leever OL 6'6, 295 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8339
Matt Skibinski OL 6'5, 275 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8314
Ryan Mullen OL 6'4, 280 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8008
Sam McCollum OL 6'3, 290 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7932

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.87 78 IsoPPP+ 87.8 108
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 46.2% 112 Succ. Rt. + 89.8 110
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 27.5 117 Off. FP+ 96.0 110
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.3 65 Redzone S&P+ 87.9 114
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 19.8 ACTUAL 22.0 +2.2
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 96 111 112 108
RUSHING 97 113 116 110
PASSING 80 97 97 98
Standard Downs 113 115 101
Passing Downs 102 87 98
Q1 Rk 105 1st Down Rk 102
Q2 Rk 121 2nd Down Rk 67
Q3 Rk 96 3rd Down Rk 121
Q4 Rk 59

6. The 2015 class was awfully impressive

Chuck Martin did what he could in putting together his 2014 recruiting class, but from a rankings perspective, the results were sketchy: the class ranked 117th via Rivals and 123rd via the 247Sports Composite.

Given a year to sign his first full class, he proved what he could do. Miami's 2015 class ranked 81st via the Composite and 84th via Rivals, second and third in the MAC, respectively. Even with the absurd job that WMU's P.J. Fleck is doing in this department, Martin is challenging more established programs like NIU, Toledo, and BGSU for second-place superiority.

Within a couple of years, the effects could be felt in the trenches. Per the Composite, Martin signed three three-star offensive linemen and four three-star defensive linemen (three ends, one tackle). The OLs might have to get their feet wet before they're ready, but there's a pretty exciting pipeline forming at the end position, where Bryson Albright and J'Terius Jones (combined: 11 sacks in 2014) return.

Miami had serious size deficiencies in 2014, and while freshman tackle Nate Trawick is big, the 2015 class isn't going to immediately solve those problems. But in the absence of size, Miami was occasionally able to beat opponents with speed, and they'll have even more of it.

7. Faster starts, please

Miami's offense may have dried up by the fourth quarter, but the defense began to find its rhythm after halftime and allowed just 4.8 yards per carry and a 106.4 passer rating in the fourth quarter. The problem was that the Redhawks were a sieve in the first half (5.2 yards per carry, 147.2 passer rating), which meant playing from behind.

First-half struggles are typically a sign of either poor talent or poor game plans. While defensive coordinator Matt Pawlowski was a strange choice -- Brian Kelly's former defensive coordinator (and Martin's former coworker) at Grand Valley State, he hadn't coached for two years after getting fired by Western Carolina -- we'll assume more former than latter for now. For one thing, the line Pawlowski inherited was awfully light. But more importantly, the back seven was banged up, with starting MLB Kent Kern and safety Jarrell Jones each missing three games, backup OLB Zach Smierciak missing six, and two 2013 starters -- safety Brison Burris and linebacker Tyler Tucker -- missing all season.

It appears Burris and Tucker are scheduled to return, as are eight starters and most backups. Talent could still be an issue, but Pawlowski has more depth and experience. So if the early-game struggles remain, eyes might start pointing toward the coach instead of the depth chart.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs

LY/carry
Pass.
Downs

LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs

Sack Rt.
Team 86.6 3.28 3.56 42.4% 65.8% 17.1% 83.7 2.5% 6.9%
Rank 118 112 86 102 55 100 94 114 76
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Bryson Albright DE 6'5, 243 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7611 12 44.0 6.6% 8.0 6.0 0 1 1 0
J'Terius Jones DE 6'3, 245 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7655 12 40.5 6.0% 8.5 5.0 0 2 1 0
Mitchell Winters DT 6'5, 285 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) N/A 12 30.5 4.5% 2.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jimmy Rousher NT 6'2, 288 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7677 12 18.5 2.8% 3.0 0.0 0 2 0 0
Mwanza Wamulumba NT
9 12.0 1.8% 2.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Ikeem Allen NT 6'1, 305 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7685 12 6.0 0.9% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jalen Johnson DE
7 2.5 0.4% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Tim Johnson DE 6'2, 237 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7000
Wesley Scott DT 6'3, 284 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8326
Parker White DT 6'4, 237 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7583
Matt Smallbone DE 6'4, 232 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7400
Mack Duffin DT 6'3, 271 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7383
Trey Knes DE 6'5, 226 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7533
Quinn Calcagno DE 6'6, 220 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8100
Nate Trawick DT 6'1, 295 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8141
Jordon Hardwick DE 6'3, 235 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8026
Dean Lemon DE 6'3, 231 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8070






Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Joe Donlan OLB 6'0, 228 Sr. NR
12 62.5 9.3% 6.0 3.0 0 0 0 0
Kent Kern MLB 6'1, 238 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7400 9 57.5 8.6% 8.0 2.0 0 3 1 1
Tyler Tucker (2013) OLB 6'2, 227 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 12 36.0 4.8% 2.5 0.0 0 2 0 0
Tre Clifton OLB 6'2, 225 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 12 28.5 4.2% 1.5 0.0 0 1 3 0
Lo Wood OLB
12 25.5 3.8% 2.0 0.0 0 1 1 0
Josh Dooley OLB 6'0, 226 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8000 12 19.5 2.9% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Zach Smierciak OLB 6'2, 245 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7900 6 11.5 1.7% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Grant Niemiec LB 6'0, 225 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7933 12 4.5 0.7% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Nate Gerbus MLB 6'1, 233 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7626 5 2.0 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Sam Connolly LB 6'2, 238 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7483
Junior McCullen LB 6'2, 225 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8332
Carter Masek LB 6'2, 225 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8152







8. More beef (and bodies) up front

[O]pponents were still allowed to gain six yards anytime they wanted to. Despite six RedHawks racking up at least four tackles for loss each, Miami still had some of the worst success rates in the country, and a majority of the damage was done up front. Miami ranked dead last in Adj. Line Yards and second-to-last in Opportunity Rate.

Returning ends Bryson Albright and J'Terius Brown combined for a rock-solid 17.5 tackles for loss but were the size of outside linebackers, averaging 233 pounds. The top three returning tackles, meanwhile, average 275. Size isn't everything, but there is still a minimum threshold, and Miami didn't meet it.

It didn't take much to sense size was an issue in 2013, and Martin and his staff did their best to combat it. Bryson Albright and J'Terius Brown were listed at 226 and 239 pounds in 2013; they were 243 and 245 in 2014. Mitchell Winters went from 271 to 285, Jimmy Rousher from 273 to 288, Kent Kern from 231 to 238, Josh Dooley from 212 to 226, et cetera.

The rush defense numbers improved in 2014, but only marginally so: from 124th in Rushing S&P+ to 113th, and from 126th in Adj. Line Yards to 118th. Miami was again strangely effective in short-yardage situations, but opponents still found plenty of open-field opportunities. Though the success rates improved a bit, Miami's big-play prevention capabilities suffered in the absence of Brison Burris and 2013 star corner Dayonne Nunley.

In 2015, experience will be an ally, and size at least won't be an enemy. Now let's find out about talent. And health.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Heath Harding S 5'10, 182 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8417 12 85.5 12.7% 3 0 2 3 0 0
Quinten Rollins CB
12 62.5 9.3% 4 0 7 9 1 0
Jarrell Jones S
9 61.5 9.2% 1.5 0 0 2 1 1
Brison Burris (2013) S 5'10, 183 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000 11 55.0 7.4% 0.5 0 1 4 0 0
Marshall Taylor CB 6'3, 199 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7300 12 26.0 3.9% 1 0 1 9 0 0
Tony Reid S 6'1, 194 So. NR N/A 11 19.5 2.9% 0.5 0 1 1 0 0
Jay Mastin S 6'2, 211 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7700 10 16.0 2.4% 0.5 0 0 2 0 0
Randy Anderson S 6'2, 193 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8000 12 5.5 0.8% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bert Birdsall CB 5'11, 161 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7706 9 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Buchi Okafor S 6'1, 200 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7200 12 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Chrishawn Dupuy CB
4 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Joshua Allen DB 6'0, 192 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8274








Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Christian Koch 6'0, 180 Sr. 65 40.1 5 22 15 56.9%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Kaleb Patterson 5'10, 170 Sr. 55 54.6 7 2 12.7%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Kaleb Patterson 5'10, 170 Sr. 31-32 5-9 55.6% 4-4 100.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Fred McRae IV KR 5'10, 178 Jr. 18 21.0 0
Dawan Scott KR 12 23.0 0
David Frazier PR 10 6.9 0
Fred McRae IV PR 5'10, 178 Jr. 5 8.4 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 97
Field Goal Efficiency 30
Punt Return Efficiency 26
Kick Return Efficiency 99
Punt Efficiency 89
Kickoff Efficiency 119
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 57

9. The most interesting kicker in the world

Miami's special teams unit was almost guaranteed to stumble without the services of booming punter Zac Murphy, who graduated after 2013. And sure enough, the Redhawks fell from 44th in special teams efficiency to 97th.

But if you're going to be bad, you may as well be unstable -- it adds entertainment value. And in Kaleb Patterson, Miami had one of the least stable legs in the country. Patterson was 4-for-4 on field goals longer than 40 yards (he was 5-for-8 in 2013, too) but 5-for-9 on shorter kicks. So he had a cannon he couldn't really control? Not necessarily. Only 13 percent of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. And while opponents' kick returns weren't consistently impressive (the average return was only 19.8 yards), the big returns were huge: Miami was one of only nine FBS teams to allow more than one kick return touchdown.

Fred McRae appears to be a decent return man, and Christian Koch could be worse at punter, but Patterson might be the best and worst player in this unit.

2015 Schedule & Projection Factors

2015 Schedule
Date Opponent 2014 F/+ Rk
5-Sep Presbyterian NR
12-Sep at Wisconsin 25
19-Sep Cincinnati 47
26-Sep at Western Kentucky 50
3-Oct at Kent State 107
10-Oct at Ohio 106
17-Oct Northern Illinois 69
24-Oct at Western Michigan 56
29-Oct Buffalo 114
7-Nov Eastern Michigan 128
14-Nov Akron 105
21-Nov at Massachusetts 120
Five-Year F/+ Rk -29.2% (114)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 114 / 109
2014 TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* 2 / -4.9
2014 TO Luck/Game +2.9
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 12 (4, 8)
2014 Second-order wins (difference) 3.3 (-1.3)

10. Win the close ones

Over the last seven seasons, Miami is a perfectly normal 15-16 in games decided by one possession. But the distribution has been absurd: 2-3 in 2008-09, 7-0 in 2010, 6-13 in 2011-14. The Redhawks evidently spent nearly a decade's worth of karma on that 2010 title and has been paying for it ever since.

Though the Redhawks improved more than you realized in 2014, I don't see a similar jump in 2015. A deeper, potentially healthier defense could take a nice step forward, but that might be offset by a less-experienced offense that maintains both its big-play potential and total inefficiency.

If the Redhawks land again in the No. 100-110 range, their fortunes will be tied to how they far in close games. They face seven teams that ranked 105th or worse in F/+ last year -- including two on the road (Kent State, Ohio) to begin conference play -- and five that ranked better than 70th, so if they do well in the close ones, they could threaten to creep toward .500 for the first time in five years.

And if they again lose the close ones, they'll be lucky to go better than 3-9.

Miami is one of the most storied programs in the MAC, the self-proclaimed Cradle of Coaches that employed everybody from Paul Brown, Woody Hayes, Bill Arnsparger and Bo Schembechler to Jim Tressel, Randy Walker, Terry Hoeppner, and Sean Payton.

Since Hoeppner left for Indiana following 2004, the downfall has been staggering. Miami went 7-4 in 2005 but has managed just the one winning season in nine years and has won two or fewer games five times. In engineering first-year improvement then signing an exciting recruiting class, Martin is hinting that he's the guy to turn things around for the Redhawks.