2013 SEASON IN REVIEW: It was an absolutely dismal season for the Miami-Ohio RedHawks in 2013, who suffered through a winless 0-12 campaign in which the team didn't score 20 points in a game once.
The last time Miami won fewer than four games in a season was back in 2009, when the team went 1-11. Since 2010, the RedHawks have been on a bit of a decline. Miami was 10-4 that season, and had back-to-back 4-8 campaigns in 2011 and 2012.
The RedHawks were defeated in Week 1 of the 2013 season by Marshall, 52-14, and then dropped three more non-conference contests. Miami topped out at 17 points scored in a game against Akron in a 24-17 loss. The team averaged 9.8 ppg offensively last season, and allowed 35.7 ppg to opponents.
Miami underwent a coaching change in the offseason, moving on from Mike Bath, who took over midway through 2013 for Don Treadwell. Chuck Martin takes over after serving as offensive coordinator. The RedHawks also bring in a handful of transfers, three from Notre Dame.
OFFENSE: Clearly offense was a key issue in 2013, so it could be a blessing and a curse that eight offensive starters return to the squad for the upcoming season. But Martin will have to worry about finding a new quarterback, though he may not have to look very far.
The RedHawks get graduate transfer Andrew Hendrix from Notre Dame who is the favorite to start, but he'll get a slight push from sophomores Austin Gearing (188 passing yards, three interceptions last year) and Drew Kummer (267 yards, one touchdown). But Martin was Hendrix's offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, so there's already a familiarity factor there.
"Coach Martin has the ability to adjust his offense to the quarterback, the players that we have," Hendrix said. "We have a different type of player here than at Notre Dame. We have different strengths. He has the ability to change the offense accordingly, and that's why he's been successful."
Gearing was the leading rusher for the RedHawks last season, which means the team didn't have a reliable running back to lean on. Junior Spencer Treadwell looks to be on pace to win the starting job, but was ineffective in 2013 after gaining 187 yards with one touchdown. Four of the team's five starting offensive linemen return from last season, which will help out a running game that averaged 101.6 rushing ypg in 2013.
Top receiver Dawan Scott is back for his senior season after hauling in 28 receptions for 425 yards and two touchdowns in 2013. Scott showed his dual- threat ability by also rushing for 244 yards - the second-most on the team. He and fellow senior David Frazier (who also has 28 receptions and two touchdowns last season) will be the go-to guys for either Hendrix or one of the two sophomore QBs.
DEFENSE: The RedHawks defense allowed 29 passing touchdowns and 23 rushing scores last season, while Miami's offense only managed single digits in both categories. The defense also allowed 484.2 offensive ypg to opponents, so returning seven starters from last year is a lot like the offense's situation, although experience can be an undervalued quality.
Middle linebacker Kent Kern returns from a 2013 season in which he led the RedHawks in tackles with 98 total, which included five tackles for loss. He added two pass breakups and two quarterback hurries, and is part of a linebacking corps that needs to replace just one member.
The defensive line is young, with two juniors and two sophomores as the projected starters. Bryson Albright was a standout defensive end last season, leading the team with five sacks. He and Mitchell Winters will be the anchors of the big men up front.
Three of four starting defensive backfield members return for the 2014 season, with the goal of reducing the 260.9 passing ypg stat opposing offenses put up against them last year. Cornerback Heath Harding led the team with three interceptions as a freshman, while he and safety Brison Burris each recorded four pass breakups. They'll be the focal points of the secondary in 2014, along with Notre Dame transfer Lo Wood.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Miami returns the strong-legged Kaleb Patterson, who enters his junior season coming off a strong campaign as the RedHawks' place kicker. Patterson hit seven of his 11 field goal tries in 2013, which included 3-of-5 from 40-49 yards and 2-of-3 from 50-plus yards. Junior Christian Koch, who was the backup punter last year, will be the favorite to start in 2014.
OUTLOOK: It can only go up for the RedHawks, who were embarrassed last season with an 0-12 record. But with 15 starters returning, at least Miami will have plenty of players who have been in game situations and have had exposure to the fast-paced style of football in the MAC.
Martin is the perfect head coach to try and turn this program around. Not only did the RedHawks add several Notre Dame transfers from Martin's tenure with the Irish, but Martin is a defensive-minded coach with experience as an offensive coordinator. His ability to focus on both will help out the program.
The schedule will one again be tough for Miami, which opens the season for a second straight year against Conference USA's Marshall. For other non- conference opponents, the RedHawks will take on FCS program Eastern Kentucky, Michigan and Cincinnati. MAC play will include Buffalo, Akron, Northern Illinois and Central Michigan.
"The incentive (is) for everybody else to get better, realizing that we've got a chance," Martin said. "I think at times last year, in the passing game, it was almost a little bit hopeless."
There's no doubt the RedHawks will be an improved team in 2014, but even though the program took strides forward by elevating Martin to head coach and adding several notable transfers, this likely still isn't a bowl eligible squad. There's a lot of improvement that needs to be made after averaging less than 10 ppg in 2013.