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Injury-riddled RedHawks have time to heal

For whatever reason – youth, a talent disparity, injuries, perhaps all of the above – the Miami RedHawks weren’t quite as ready as they needed to be for their Mid-American Conference East Division game this past Saturday at Ohio.

The Bobcats grabbed a quick 14-0 lead and led, 24-10, at halftime before completing a 41-16 victory over Miami — their widest margin of victory in the “Battle of the Bricks” rivalry since a 39-13 triumph in 1942.

“It’s always disappointing to lose a rivalry game, and this is a rivalry game,” interim coach Mike Bath said Monday during his weekly media conference. “This is a game that’s very important to us and always has been.

“It was disappointing in a couple of different facets. We didn’t perform the way we should’ve. We need to be better. We didn’t prepare the team the way we needed to, and the brunt of that is on me. We have to get better.”

Winless Miami (0-8, 0-4) is off until next Tuesday, when another East team with a chip on its shoulder, Bowling Green, visits Oxford for a game scheduled to start at 8 p.m. and be televised on ESPN2 or ESPNU. The Falcons have lost two straight games by a total of four points, 21-20 at Mississippi State and 28-25 at home against Toledo, but they remain tied with Ohio for second place in the East, one game behind Buffalo.

Bath was hoping the extra-long break would help some of his players get over nagging injuries, the most serious of which has been the ankle injury that has forced junior center Marcus Matthews to miss the last six games.

“He continues to be day-to-day,” Bath said. “There’s no question we’d be a much better offensive line if he was able to play.”

Bath credited senior John Anevski, Matthews’s replacement, and junior tackles Jeff Tanner and Zach Lewis for shaking off minor injuries and staying in the game against the Bobcats. Senior defensive tackle Austin Brown and sophomore running back Spencer Treadwell weren’t so lucky. Both were hopeful of playing on Saturday, but Brown’s foot wasn’t ready, while Treadwell was limited to one carry because of a thigh injury.

Bath wasn’t sure about the status of fifth-year senior quarterback Austin Boucher, who suffered what the coach would only describe as a “lower body” injury.

“We are a banged-up football team right now,” Bath said. “It’s a good thing we have this 10-day window. It’ll be good for the program for people to get healthy and for us to study the opponent for two more days.”

Third-year sophomore Drew Kummer and redshirt freshman Austin Gearing both saw snaps at quarterback at Ohio, with Kummer logging his first career touchdown on a 3-yard run.

Miami also continued evolving on offense, primarily with getting tight ends such as seniors Steve Marck and Dustin White more involved by using them as fullbacks and H-backs. The moves paid off with plays such as senior Dustin White catching his first career touchdown pass.

“Hindsight being 20-20, I would like to have gotten a little more into that, but the next thing you know, it’s 14-0 and 24-10, and the rhythm of the game really didn’t allow it,” Bath said. “Dustin White played the best game of his career.”

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