OXFORD, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 28: Jaylon Bester #1 of the Miami of Ohio Redhawks runs the ball in the game against the Buffalo Bulls during the first quarter at Yager Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Oxford, Ohio. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Photo: Justin Casterline
Photo: Justin Casterline

Bye week rejuvenates RedHawks

Miami (2-3, 1-0 Mid-American Conference East Division) are preparing to go on the road to Kalamazoo, Mich., and face on Saturday at noon the Western Michigan (3-3- 1-1 MAC West) in an interdivisional matchup dominated recently dominated by the Broncos.

The RedHawks will turn their attention to a new opponent after spending a week focusing on themselves – physically and mentally.

»RELATED: RedHawks open MAC play with win over Buffalo

After opening the season with a grueling five-game schedule that included three opponents – Iowa, Ohio State and Cincinnati – who now are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, the RedHawks had a light week of work. Physically, players such as third-year sophomore defensive tackle Andrew Sharp used the week to get closer to being 100 percent.

“I was kind of struggling with little things,” Sharp said Monday during the program’s weekly media session. “The extra week is huge. I’m feeling much better.”

Sixth-year coach Chuck Martin believes “one or two” of the “six or seven” players who were out of action will be ready by Saturday. The two include fifth-year senior right tackle Matt Skibinski, who is listed on Miami’s depth chart as the starter after missing the last two games.

“We’ll get a couple back,” Martin said. “The others aren’t quite ready. It’s like a 2-3 week thing.”

»RELATED: 2019 RedHawks Schedule

The RedHawks also took advantage of the extra time to take longer looks at themselves and how they can be better.

“Obviously, the bye week was good for us,” Martin said. “We had three pretty good practices. We have a little extra time to prepare for Western Michigan, but we also could focus on ourselves and on things we can do better. We got back to basics on both sides of the ball. We had good lifts. We had good reps.”

The self-examinations focused less on schemes and play-calling and more on individual players, Martin said.

“I won’t go into specifics,” he pointed out. “We’ve played five games. We looked at where guys aren’t doing consistent jobs – where they’re good and where they’re not good.”

The RedHawks spend time every week self-scouting their own tendencies, Martin added.

“We know what the other team knows,” he said. “We’re always looking into what the opponent knows.”

One thing the Broncos know is they’ve won six consecutive games in the series with Miami, including last season’s 40-39 win that the RedHawks led, 39-34, with just more than six minutes left in the game before Western Michigan put together an 11-play, 73-yard drive to score the winning touchdown with 2:53 left in the game.

Miami is coming off an 34-20 win over defending East-champion Buffalo. The RedHawks are tied with Kent State and Ohio for first place in the division.

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