Friday, August 30, 2013

Marshall Football: Keys to the Game, Miami (Ohio)

During every football broadcast, the color commentator will go over his “keys to the game”, points of emphasis each team must focus on to secure victory. I thought you would appreciate a in-depth look at tomorrow’s showdown against Miami (Ohio) through the same format.  

Miami (Ohio)

1) Run the Ball – Despite defenses gearing up to stop quarterback Zach Dysert and his 3,483 passing yards, Miami could not find any room to run last season. In total the RedHawks only rushed for 1,039 yards on 339 attempts, good for a paltry 3.06 yards per carry.

Reports out of Oxford indicate that Miami will dedicate more plays to running the ball this season and they need to diversify their offense if they hope to upset Marshall tomorrow. The son of head coach Don Treadwell, running back Spencer Treadwell sits atop the RedHawks depth chart. On 65 attempts last season Spencer rushed for 234 yards and one touchdown.

2) Keep Pace – Marshall averaged just over 90 offensive snaps per game last year. The fast pace causes defensive mismatches and tired defenders for the Thundering Herd to exploit.

Miami had mixed results playing against similarly paced offenses last year, falling to Ball State (79 total plays per game) 31-24 but, they beat Akron (79 total plays per game) 56-49 and Ohio (76 total plays per game) 23-20.

3) Avoid Turnovers – When you are a underdog playing on the road nothing is more important than winning the turnover battle. In eight losses last season Miami had a turnover ratio of minus eight. In four wins the RedHawks registered a turnover ratio of positive three.


1) Get in the End Zone – No, we not talking about touchdowns, we are talking about touchbacks. Of Marshall’s 83 kickoff attempts last year only six were taken for touchbacks. Amoreto Curraj hopes to reverse that trend in 2013. The freshman walk-on from Florida will handle kickoff duties on Saturday.

2) Get Off the Field -  Marshall was atrocious on third down last year, allowing opposing offenses to convert 44.51% of their attempts. The problems started up front with a weak pass rush that only totaled 19 sacks, tied for 87th in the nation. Marshall was thin in the defensive backfield too, playing most games with three healthy cornerbacks. Under new defensive coordinator Chuck Heater, the Herd needs improvement on third down to win Saturday and beyond.

3) Stretch the Field – Now a New England Patriot, wide receiver Aaron Dobson was Marshall’s biggest deep threat last season. Dobson’s ability to stretch the field also left room for fellow wide receivers Tommy Shuler and Antavious Wilson to operate underneath. Oft-injured yet talented redshirt sophomore Davonte Allen and Penn State transfer Devon Smith are vying to take over Dobson’s role at X-receiver. Will either of them be able to fill the the playing making void that Dobson’s absence created? 

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