The Miami Hurricanes open the 2023 regular season by hosting the Miami Ohio RedHawks at Hard Rock Stadium on Friday, September 1st. The game kicks off at 7:00pm on the ACC Network.
The Hurricanes hold a 3-0 all-time lead over the RedHawks. The teams played two consecutive ball games in Miami, FL with the ‘Canes obviously winning both back in 1945 and 1946. The two program didn’t face off again until the 1987 season with Miami cruising to a 54-3 victory over their sister school.
The Hurricanes are coming off of a 5-7 season (3-5 in the ACC) while the RedHawks finished 6-7 (4-4 in the MAC) a year ago. Last season, Miami University played three Power 5 teams, beating Northwestern 17-13, but dropping games to Kentucky and newly minted P5 Cincinnati.
DraftKings has Miami as a 17.5 point home favorite to start Year Two of the Mario Cristobal Era in Coral Gables. Vegas has Miami’s over/under on the season set at 7.5 wins with Miami-OH’s win total set at 6.5.
Miami-Ohio was once the land of the future big time coaches aka “The Cradle of Coaches.” Sid Gillman (Chargers), Woody Hayes (Ohio State), Ara Parseghian (Notre Dame), Bo Schembechler (Michigan), and Dick Crum. Miami University also produced famous players (some of whom also coached), such as Parseghian, Schembechler, Paul Brown, Ron Zook, Ben Roethlisberger, and John Harbaugh. One of my favorite all-time “RedHawks” was Brian Pillman, a future Cinncinati Bengal and professional wrestling star (WWF/E, WCW, ECW).
According to Bill Connelly’s SP+, the Hurricanes are 42nd overall, 55th on offense, 20th on defense. The RedHawks are 91st overall, 121st on offense, 57th on defense.
In ‘22, Miami-OH scored 20.2 points per game (113th of 131 in FBS), and allowed 22.6 PPG (35th in FBS). The ‘Canes scored 23.6 PPG (97th in FBS) and allowed 26.8 PPG (68th in FBS).
Kicker Graham Nicholson and punter Dom Dzioban return for the ‘23 season. Nicholson was 26-of-27 on PAT’s last year while making 17-of-22 field goals. Dzioban averaged 42.4 yards per punt. Miami U. has no one to worry about in the return game.
The Hurricanes finished last season 108th in penalties per game, while the RedHawks were only 53rd. Is this going to be another sloppy mess of a game for the Miami Hurricanes or did the change over on the staff and the depth chart ‘fix’ Miami’s discipline issues?
There’s good news for HC Chuck Martin, both of his quarterbacks from 2022 return for the 2023 campaign. Brett Gabbert was injured four games into last season and threw four touchdowns with zero interceptions after 26 TD’s in ‘21. His backup, Aveon Smith scored 17 times (11 passing) with five INT’s last year.
Smith was also the team’s leading rusher as their running game failed to get going a year ago. Miles Marshall and Mac Hippenhammer both return out wide. The duo averaged 16.3 and 14.2 yards per catch, respectively while also hauling in 11 combined TD’s.
With the amount of young returning talent the Hawks have on offense you’d hope for their sake that side of the ball improves in ‘23.
Cincinnati Bearcats 38 - Miami Ohio RedHawks 17
The offense struggled in the Miami U loss to Cincy. QB Aveon Smith averaged only 5.8 yards per pass attempt with two TD’s an one INT. The entire team was held to only 1.9 yards per carry on the ground.
Hippenhammer caught one TD while averaging 15.5 yards per catch. On top of no running game, the offensive line allowed four sacks and eight tackles for loss.
Above- If you catch a CB you think is weaker than your WR inside the ‘hard deck’ (7-yard cushion) you can throw up that fade. Smith launches one here on 1st down for a big TD to open the game with a 7-0 lead.
Above- The Hawks run game was stagnant all season. If smith couldn’t pull it was over. You can’t expect to bully better athletes with 1-on-1 blocks.
Above- A slightly new look for Miami-OH that game. 12 personnel (one back, two tight ends). They run a slide route with the back side TE, while the play side TE reaches the edge setter.
Above- The Miami U. offense died about half way through the 2nd quarter. Smith forces the screen to the WR but the swing route back side is open. The pressure, which Cincy was smart to bring vs. a screen from the back side guy, gets him to rush his throw.
Martin’s RedHawks can go only as far as their defense takes them. They lost their top cornerback to Ole Miss in the transfer portal, but return their front six and a stud linebacker. Good news for Miami of Florida, the other Miami didn’t have a killer pass rush last year.
The defensive line had about 15 sacks between their main rotation players. The issue for the ‘Canes is that they all return for another season. Corey Suttle and Brian Ugwu could be an issue for whoever is at left tackle for The U.
Linebacker Matthew Salopek returns with 124 tackles and nine TFL’s with a PBU and a forced fumble a year ago. John Saunders Jr. took his 10 PBU’s with him to Oxford, MS; but Michael Dowell returns with Eli Blakey and Yashyn McKee- the trio logged six PBU’s a piece in ‘22 with three INT’s.
Cincinnati Bearcats 38 - Miami (OH) RedHawks 17
The RedHawks did play solid defense, all things considered. They picked off QB Ben Bryant while forcing five fumbles and recovering two. Miami came away with three sacks, three TFL’s and three PBU’s as well.
They held Cincy to only 3.8 yards per carry but got torched through the air. Bryant averaged 9.6 yards per attempt and five Bearcat receivers averaged double-digit yards per catch. Miami lost the middle of the game 24-7 between the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
So... what’s open vs. Miami-OH?
Above- If you have pass pro which will give Tyler Van Dyke some time, you can hit a Y-Cross type concept here. The slot goes under the NB, over the ILB, and finds himself open 20y deep and on the opposite #’s.
Above- The OZ RPO Fin tag is open here, but much like Ga. Tech vs. Miami in 2018, The Hawks look for the strip and get the fumble recovery.
Above- Cincy used the fake fly sweep split zone concept all game to work up and down the field. New Miami OC Shannon Dawson needs to take note. That motion’ing WR can eventually hit the flat for a swing RPO, and then a wheel can open up, too.
Above- Down and kick is getting popular inside the +5 yard line. FSU used the G series which is a front side guard kick. Cincy uses a long trap from the guard.
Above- What’s open? When your QB can hit perfect ball placement on a 15y deep out EVERYTHING IS OPEN.
Above- I’m not a fan of the red zone fade, but will allow it if it’s Colbie Young 1-on-1 vs. a CB on 1st and goal.
Above- I’m a big fan of hitting those deep posts 1-on-1 if you can lure the safety out of the middle of the field. No Miami-OH safety should be able to run with a Miami-FL WR by himself.
Above- No fly fake but split zone works again. A truly great OC goes back to the well until it’s proven the DC can stop them. Also, Miami RB’s, where are the broken tackles and re-accelerations?
The ESPN win expectancy for the Miami-OH at Miami-FL game is a 90.9% lean in favor of the Hurricanes over the RedHawks.
The Canyonero keys to victory are:
1- Don’t allow the big play. In ‘22, Miami allowed explosives against MTSU which gave them the big upset win. Whether it’s an ugly interception from Tyler Van Dyke, or a big fade TD from the RedHawks offense- these types of plays have to stop against lesser competition.
2- Protect Van Dyke. This is the 2023 theme. Whoever is at left tackle, and no matter the circumstances- if Van Dyke is banged up and injured all season this team can’t function with Jacurri Brown and true freshmen at QB getting the starting reps. Van Dyke needs to not just be healthy, but back to his 2021 form.
3- Look prepared and intense. I don’t mean crawl around barking like a dog in the tunnel. I mean have certainly a more focused demeanor. The dancing and BS should be washed out of the program. Come intense, focused, and dialed in. Do your job. Look like you’ve practiced together before. Be a disciplined football program.
Prediction: Miami Hurricanes by 10.