Kent, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami-Ohio RedHawks hope to collect their first win of the 2013 campaign as they collide with the Kent State Golden Flashes in a Mid-American Conference tilt at Dix Stadium.
The RedHawks are still winless after nine contests and have been outscored by an average of 23.9 points per game. Interim head coach Mike Bath has been in charge of the program for the last four outings after the school parted ways with Don Treadwell, who went 8-21 in 29 career games at Miami. The RedHawks were defeated, 45-3, by Bowling Green at home last Tuesday, which marked their 13th loss in a row dating back to last season. They are the only squad left in the MAC without a win over a league rival.
Kent State had high hopes after finishing the 2012 season with an 11-3 overall record. The team has not maintained that level of success under first-year head coach Paul Haynes, who watched his career record fall to 2-8 on Nov. 2 when the Golden Flashes suffered a 16-7 setback at Akron. The loss was the fifth in a row for the defending East Division champions.
This will be the 61st meeting in history between Miami and Kent State. The Golden Flashes coasted to a 48-32 decision in last season's matchup at Yager Stadium in Oxford to improve to 14-46 versus the RedHawks in the all-time series.
Bath's job as interim coach became even more difficult when senior quarterback Austin Boucher suffered a season ending injury on Oct. 26 in the RedHawks' 41-16 loss to Ohio University at Peden Stadium. In Miami's first game without Boucher, redshirt sophomore Drew Kummer stepped in to throw for a career-high 100 yards on 9-of-19 efficiency. Redshirt freshman signal caller Austin Gearing, who is the team's leading rusher on the season with 300 yards on 73 attempts, also contributed to the aerial attack as he connected on all six of his pass attempts for 31 yards. The inexperienced duo did not help Miami solve its offensive woes as it tallied only 228 total yards and scored its only points on a 51-yard field goal by Kaleb Patterson.
The RedHawks are ranked last among the 123 FBS programs in scoring offense with an average of only 10 ppg. They are just one spot higher in total offense (228.1 ypg) due to a very inefficient running game that is netting only 2.6 yards per carry. Miami has scored just three touchdowns on the ground and it has just 834 rushing yards on the season, leaving it as the lone MAC program below the 1,000-yard mark through nine games.
The RedHawks defense has also been a disappointment with allowed averages of 473.6 total yards and 33.9 points per contest. They surrendered 447 yards, 30 first downs and five offensive touchdowns to the Falcons last Tuesday. Despite the poor overall performance, sophomore defensive end Bryson Albright had a strong showing with three sacks after he entered the game with only two quarterback takedowns on the season.
Kent State has been inconsistent on the offensive side of the ball this season due to inexperience both at the quarterback position and on the line. It is ranked ninth in the MAC in total offense (344.3 ypg) and 10th in scoring offense (18.1 ppg).
The Golden Flashes have a pair of all-conference caliber players in the backfield in Trayion Durham and Dri Archer. Durham has been a workhorse throughout the campaign en route to 640 yards and five touchdowns on 151 carries. Archer (7.5 ypc) sat for the majority of the first four games of the season due to injury, but exhibited his ability to take over games in 2012 with 1,429 rushing yards, 561 receiving yards and 23 total TDs including three kick returns that he took the distance. He is expected to be an impact special teams player on Sundays next season. Both running backs lost fumbles in KSU's loss to Akron and redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Reardon was picked off three times in the fourth quarter, while the team unsuccessfully tried to rally back to take the lead.
Reardon has connected on just 58.5 percent of his pass attempts for 1,597 yards, with 11 TDs and nine INTs. Wideout Chris Humphrey has been the top receiving threat, with 45 catches for 519 yards and three scores. Archer and Casey Pierce have reeled in four touchdown passes apiece.
Kent State's defense did its part versus the Zips, holding them to only 304 total yards and one offensive touchdown. The Golden Flashes have not been able to overcome a challenging schedule that included LSU, Penn State, Northern Illinois, South Alabama and Buffalo, all of which scored at least 34 points against them. They did manage to hold Ball State's high octane attack to just 27 points. The squad ranks fourth to last among MAC schools with an allowance of 453.9 ypg. The struggles have come despite the strong leadership of Luke Wollet (722tackles, two INTs). Jordan Italiano is a close second on the team's tackling leaderboard with 69 stops. Roosevelt Nix has also played well among the turmoil with 10.5 tackles for loss to further his position as the school's all-time leader with 62.5 TFL. Nix was named the MAC East Defensive Player of the Week following his outing at Akron which consisted of three TFL, two sacks, four solo tackles and a forced fumble.