Perhaps the best thing to be said about the stretch of four games just completed by the Miami RedHawks is they survived.
Miami wrapped up the non-conference portion of its schedule with a 50-14 loss at Illinois, and Miami coach Don Treadwell was happy that the RedHawks escaped their matchup against the big, bruising, Fighting Illini with relatively few injuries.
“It was definitely a physical game,” the third-year coach said Monday.
Treadwell had no update about the status of sophomore running back Jamire Westbrook, who was carted off with what the coach said was a “lower leg” injury. Treadwell expected to see senior cornerback Dayonne Nunley back for Saturday’s Mid-American Conference opener against Central Michigan (1-4, 0-1 MAC) at Yager Stadium after he missed the second half vs. Illinois.
“It was more precautionary,” the coach said. “He was working through some illness.”
Treadwell also was hoping junior center Marcus Matthews and junior wide receiver Dawan Scott will be back to play against the Chippewas in the first game of Miami’s 66th MAC season.
Miami (0-4) allowed 50 points to a second opponent in one season for the first time in the program’s 125 seasons.
“Illinois is very good football team,” Treadwell said. “They were able to produce points early in the game and ride that momentum. The positives for us were we were able to sustain some drives and score some touchdowns. We gained 155 yards on the ground, and that’s encouraging. I can’t tell you the last time we did that.”
Miami rushed for 189 yards Sept. 29 last year vs. Akron.
Quarterbacks have led the RedHawks in rushing in three of the first four games as they continue to rely heavily on the option offense. Redshirt freshman Austin Gearing leads Miami with 140 yards on 36 carries after logging career highs against Illinois with 16 carries and 81 yards.
Also against Illinois, redshirt freshman running back Fred McRae made his first career start against Illinois, while true freshman running back Grant Niemic and redshirt freshman wide receiver Rokeem Williams both scored their first career touchdowns.
Treadwell was anticipating the return of junior wide receiver David Frazier, who was ineligible for the first four games because of academic reasons. The 6-foot, 175-pound Frazier was Miami’s top returning receiver with 57 receptions, 871 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Whether Frazier starts and how much he plays will depend on how he performs in practice this week, Treadwell said.
“He’ll get ample opportunities to contribute,” Treadwell said. “Having a guy who’s been in games will help us.”
Miami, which has won 13 outright MAC championships and shared two more, is one of three winless MAC teams going into October. Massachusetts also is 0-4, while Western Michigan is 0-5.