If spring football practice is any indication, Miami University’s defense is on the road to improvement.
The RedHawks were among the nation’s worst defensive teams last season, but they’re showing some physical want-to this spring, and that included Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage at Yager Stadium.
“We haven’t really changed much. We’re just being more aggressive and cutting the kids loose,” said Jay Peterson, MU’s defensive coordinator. “We want to attack the line of scrimmage, which we didn’t always do in the past.”
Miami’s D-corps allowed 269 yards on 74 plays in the situational scrimmage, notching a pair of safeties in the opening moments.
“We have so much depth this year,” said defensive tackle Mwanza Wamulumba, a rising redshirt junior. “We’re so athletic, and everyone wants to compete with someone. Our ball pursuit’s crazy. That’s what our top thing is.”
Wamulumba was among numerous RedHawks making plays on the D-line. Austin Brown, Jimmy Rousher, Bryson Albright, J’Terius Brown and Mitchell Winters were others.
The defense came up with no turnovers, yet limited the rushing attack to 114 yards on 50 carries.
“As a unit, they played hard,” Peterson said. “That’s a start. I’m pleased with the progress.”
The offense produced three touchdowns, though all three came on very short fields. Austin Boucher hit Dawan Scott with a 10-yard TD pass, while Drew Kummer and Austin Gearing also scampered for scores from the QB position.
Boucher, a rising redshirt senior and Miami’s No. 1 quarterback, ran 19 times for a team-leading 45 yards and completed 7 of 14 passes for 65 yards.
“As a senior and as a quarterback, you have to embrace that role as a leader,” Boucher said. “We’re getting better every day. I think it’s a matter of us coming together fundamentally with what we’re doing and just understanding it fully instead of thinking so much.”
Kummer was 3 of 5 for 41 yards, while Gearing was 2 of 5 for 49 yards (and had a touchdown pass dropped) and ran 12 times for 39 yards. The game plan centered on running the ball and testing the quarterbacks’ skills on the option.
“In a perfect world, a quarterback would love to just stand back there and not get hit and throw, but at the same time, being able to tuck the ball and run is always fun too,” Boucher said. “Honestly, I’m just a football player, so I’m enjoying it.”
Offensive coordinator John Klacik said his unit is battling some injuries up front, especially at center. John Anevski is recovering from knee surgery and Brandyn Cook has a back issue, leaving Delvin Becks and linebacker Albert Phillips to handle the position Saturday.
Klacik said Anevski should be ready when summer practice begins. Cook is day to day.
“I think they’re all guys that are confident with the ball in their hands,” Klacik said of Miami’s three quarterbacks. “It gives us a better total threat when the defense has to worry about them keeping the ball. In the long run, I think that’s going to help our offensive line. Last year, some teams thought, ‘Hey, they’re not even going to try to run it.’ I think the time has come to change that.”
The RedHawks’ place-kickers, Kaleb Patterson and Mason Krysinski, were both 3 of 5 on field goals. Each player missed an extra point.