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Miami defense impresses vs. Cincinnati

Coach Don Treadwell saw nothing on the video from Miami’s 14-0 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday that caught him by surprise.

The defense still flew all over the field while keeping the Bearcats off the scoreboard until the last five minutes, the special teams enjoyed blocking a field goal and booming a record-setting punt – and the offense needs work.

“Our defense demonstrated what they’re capable of doing,” the third-year RedHawks coach said Monday during his weekly media conference. “That was very positive statement. The offense showed improvement (between) the (20 yard lines). We weren’t able to get on track in the red zone, but we were able to make some first downs.”

Miami, which plays at Illinois on Saturday, finished with four first downs against Cincinnati, fewer than the eight logged by the RedHawks against the Wildcats and the nine picked up in the season-opening 52-14 loss at Marshall. The offense finished with a season-low 87 yards of total offense – seven rushing in 29 tries. Fifth-year senior quarterback Austin Boucher threw 16 passes – two more than he tried at Kentucky – and completed seven, though Cincinnati’s defense also was credited with five sacks, which suggests more than 16 pass plays were called.

“It’s always a work in progress,” Treadwell said. “We’re not going to so much open it up as it is be more balanced. We attempted more throws than we did at Kentucky, and we still will work for balance. We had some big-play opportunities, and when we get those, we want to make sure that we cash in.”

Junior wide receiver Dawan Scott was listed at the top of the depth chart at his position though he still was being evaluated for a possible concussion, Treadwell said. Scott is second on the team with five receptions, one fewer than senior tight end Steve Marck, and leads Miami with 91 yards.

Miami’s defense limited those same big-play opportunities for usually explosive Cincinnati, due in large part to the Redhawk cornerbacks, senior Dayonne Nunley and true freshman Heath Harding. Each had one interception and Nunley also had three breakups, including one a bomb inside the Miami 5-yard line on which he made up at least 20 yards on the open receiver while the ball was in the air. Nunley also finished with 10 tackles on his way to being named the Mid-American Conference East Division Defensive Player of the Week.

The MAC also named Miami senior punter Zac Murphy the East Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks after Murphy averaged 52.4 yards per punt on eight tries, including a school- and Yager Stadium-record 84-yard effort that, even with the wind at his back, still was impressive. The Kings High School graduate leads the conference with an average of 49.8 yards per kick this season..

Special Message: Treadwell opened his media conference by offering “thoughts and prayers” to the Cincinnati football program in the wake of the Saturday night auto accident that claimed the life of Hamilton High School graduate and freshman offensive lineman Ben Flick. The accident also left two others critically injured, including another Bearcat freshman football player. A third player also was injured.

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