Friday, September 7, 2007

MIami (Ohio) RedHawks vs. Minnesota

Miami (Ohio) 1-0 at Minnesota 0-1 Gametime: Noon ET Television: BTN

Tim Brewster and company will try for a second consecutive week to prove it can play with the mediocre teams of the MAC. This time, the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks come to the Metrodome, fresh off a low-key 14-13 win over Ball State last week.

The RedHawks are coming off a disappointing 2006, when star running back Brandon Murphy's bum ankle kept the team down. In week one, it was all Murphy for the RedHawks. He ran for 123 yards and scored both of Miami's touchdowns, including one with just 17 seconds left to give the RedHawks an early conference win. Murphy, a senior, is joined by senior signal caller Mike Kokal who ranked 19th in the country last year in passing yards. But in Week one, Kokal was 14-for-24 for 118 yards and two picks.

With all of that said, it should be clear that the Gophers aren't facing another pass-happy MAC team. It would seem the RedHawks would like to use Murphy as much as possible to control possession, but Kokal's experience will also allow the Hawks to take advantage of the Gophers' secondary.

For the Gophers on offense, the game plan Mike Dunbar brought last week will need to be tweaked. According to Rivals, "The defensive line for Miami is one of the smallest that the Gophers will face all year. They average less than 265 pounds across the front four, with their biggest starter only 277 pounds." To me, that indicates the Gophers need to use our bigger offensive lineman and pound the football. But Dunbar started out last week by trying to throw. A similar decision this week could hurt the Gophers. Dunbar should go away from 95 to 100 percent shotgun offense and let Amir Pinnix, Duane Bennett and Adam Weber pound the RedHawks.

Defensively, the Gophers need to be concerned because they have a tendency to make every quarterback look like Peyton Manning. While the RedHawks want to pound the football, don't be surprised if they come out throwing.

Boo at the Dome if ...

** Tim Brewster and Mike Dunbar forget what they did offensively against Bowling Green to comeback in the second half.

** Tim Brewster is seen face down on the Metrodome turf.

** Ernie Wheelright short-arms another pass or doesn't put forward full effort.

Be excited if ...

** You don't have a heart attack every time Harold Howell handles a punt.

** Adam Weber's passes are in the vicinity of his receivers.

** The defense causes a three-and-out. (It doesn't coutn if Miami is riddled with penalities or drops passes).

You know things are going bad if ...

** Desi Steib is reinserted into the Minnesota secondary.

** The RedHawks score twice in the first three minutes.

** Willie VanDeSteeg continues to be invisible.

The Gophers will win if ...

** They run the football more than they pass.

** The defensive line can put some pressure on Kokal to bail out the secondary.

** The RedHawks don't succeed on the two-point conversion in overtime.

The Gophers will lose if ...

** The 'extreme schemer' Mike Dunbar decides to air it out with his freshman quarterback and inexperienced wide receivers.

** Desi Steib sees more than 30 seconds of playing time.

** Murphy runs wild. If the 'Hawks run rampant, that will only make our secondary more vulnerable.

Predictions ...

** Tim Brewster will be seen face down on the Metrodome turf again.

** The Gophers lose to a MAC team again. In overtime again. 29-28.

** North Dakota State fans will have more reason to predict a victory and hecklers will suggest the Gophers should move to the MAC conference.