Week 1 scouting report: Miami (Ohio)

Iowa football will open the season against the Miami RedHawks, who present a few wrinkles that could challenge the Hawkeyes.

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Week 1 scouting report: Miami (Ohio)

Robert Read, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Miami (Ohio) football team enters the season after finishing last year’s campaign on a three-game winning streak, ending 6-6.

With seven returning starters on offense and defense, both units have the experience necessary to build on what last season’s team accomplished, while also needing to improve past shortcomings.

The offensive side of the ball for Miami was an abnormality in 2018.

The RedHawks ranked 93rd in the FBS in total offense but No. 1 overall in red-zone offense. Scoring on 97.7 percent of red-zone possessions — while only turning the ball over 10 times — Miami was nearly unstoppable after crossing the opponent’s 20-yard line.

The red-zone fade brought Miami success much of last season, and it should continue to do so. The quarterback opts for the one-on-one matchup to the boundary side and throws a fade pass to Dominique Robinson, who positions himself well and makes the easy catch for 6.

Robinson is one of many targets on the Miami offense who could be mistaken for a basketball player. He stands at 6-4, and the two other starting wide receivers are 6-1 and 6-5. Just to add another mismatch into the mix, starting tight end Andrew Homer is 6-6.

The danger that jump ball presents allows other aspects of the offense to flourish.

Just a few minutes later in that contest against Army, the RedHawks scored the game-tying touchdown.

Miami once again had Robinson out wide to the right but this time with the tight end on the right side of the line. Army had a safety shading over to Robinson’s side of the field in an effort to prevent another jump ball his way.

The wrinkle Miami threw in this time was very convincing play action. The left guard pulled, and quarterback Gus Ragland — who graduated last year — faked the handoff for what appeared to be a run play to the right, causing the linebackers to react downhill.

Instead, Ragland kept the ball and threw to a wide-open tight end, who had stayed in to block for a second before releasing on a route and going uncovered in the end zone.

Where the red-zone offense for Miami flourished last season, the team’s red-zone defense came up disappointing.

The RedHawk defense ranked 46th in the nation in the red zone, but the unit struggled in holding offenses to field goals rather than touchdowns.

Miami only forced two field goals in the red zone last season, compared with 33 touchdowns.

A key to trying to improve the defense — particularly in the red area — will be defensive tackle Doug Costin. Costin is an All-MAC defender who is used to giving Big Ten teams fits.

Costin was a force against Minnesota last year. He posted 7 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles.

Against Minnesota, Costin, lined up at left defensive tackle, took an explosive first step to the left, right where the Gophers were attempting to run the ball. Costin then made contact with the right guard and got the necessary arm extension to get eyes on the ball
carrier, got rid of the linemen to make the tackle, and forced the fumble.

Miami offers a few more challenges than the average MAC team. Although Iowa should come out of the Aug. 31 contest with a victory, it should be prepared for the RedHawks to put up a fight.

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