One game does not a new look make, but that was a slightly different football team that Miami put on the field at Marshall last Saturday.
Perhaps for the first time since before Ben Roethlisberger started passing the ball around Oxford back in 2001, the RedHawks had more runs than passes while falling, 52-14, to the Thundering Herd. Miami attempted 34 rushes and just 23 passes.
“That’s the first game in quite a while that we had more rushing attempts than passing attempts,” third-year coach Don Treadwell pointed out Monday in his weekly press conference. “That’s a sign of progress as we move on. We were also 100 percent when we got into the red zone in scoring touchdowns. It’s huge scoring touchdowns instead of kicking field goals.”
While Miami ran the ball more often, the attack wasn’t mistaken for three yards and a cloud of dust. The RedHawks managed to grind out just 74 yards on the ground, led by backup quarterback Austin Gearing’s 27 yards on six carries. Third-year sophomore Spencer Treadwell started at running back and gained 15 yards on five carries.
Still, coach Treadwell firmly believes Miami is on the right track with its running game going into today’s game at Kentucky.
“You have to stay at it,” he said. “If you stay true to what you’re doing, that will come.”
Fifth-year senior quarterback Austin Boucher threw for 165 yards, logging 10 completions in 22 passes in his first start since the end of the 2010 season.
“He was pretty consistent, especially if you take out a couple of drops on throws that were right on the money and had the potential to be big plays,” Treadwell said. “That matters. He did what we asked him to do.”
While Treadwell was satisfied with the play of his quarterback, first-year Kentucky coach Mark Stoops was less so with the performance of sophomore starter Jalen Whitlow. He gave way during the 35-26 season-opening loss to Western Kentucky in Nashville last Saturday to classmate Maxwell Smith, who was 8-of-13 for 125 yards and one touchdown. Whitlow’s numbers were similar, 10 of 15 for 78 yards, but Stoops felt Kentucky’s offense looked so much better with Smith at the helm that he was installed as the starter this week in practice.
“It’s not at all ever on the quarterback, but he made less mistakes and he did some of the basic things that we’re looking for correctly and distributed the ball where we needed to,” said Stoops, a defensive coach for his entire career at stops at Wyoming, Houston, Miami (Fla.), Arizona and Florida State before he took the Kentucky job. “So that was the big thing with helping us move the football.”
Treadwell is more concerned with the Wildcats’ size on the lines, especially defensively, where 338-pound senior tackle Mister Cobble tops the charts. He lines up next to 320-pound senior tackle Donte Rumph.