Miami coach on team’s performance after 18-day layoff: ‘the best football we’ve ever played’

Miami's Mac Hippenhammer caught five passes for 77 yards in Saturday's 38-7 win over Akron. Jeff Harwell, Akron Athletics
Miami's Mac Hippenhammer caught five passes for 77 yards in Saturday's 38-7 win over Akron. Jeff Harwell, Akron Athletics

RedHawks set to host Kent State on Saturday after blowout win over Akron

Miami’s football team logged the program’s 700th all-time win with what coach Chuck Martin described as “the best football we’ve ever played.”

That’s how Martin characterized the RedHawks’ 38-7 Mid-American Conference East Division win on Saturday at Akron during a Monday Zoom media session with the media.

The game was Miami’s first since a 42-10 loss on Nov. 10 at Buffalo, a span of time that included cancellation of the RedHawks’ home game against Ohio on Nov. 17.

ExploreRedHawks blast Zips

“We definitely looked fresh,” Martin said. “We played fast. We were aggressive. We looked like that from the opening kickoff to the end of the game. We played the best football we’ve ever played.”

Sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert threw four touchdown passes to fifth-year senior wide receiver Jack Sorenson and the Miami defense limited the Zips to four yards rushing while piling up seven sacks.

“They may not be in the upper echelons of the league, but they’re not as bad as our defense made them look,” Martin said of the 0-4 Zips.

Junior defensive end Kameron Butler admitted that he and defensive teammates were disappointed to see Akron score with 8:08 left in the game, costing Miami its first shutout win since the 2004 seasonopener against Indiana State.

“We were hoping for a shutout on the sideline, but the (second team) guys hadn’t played on a while,” said Butler, who finished with 2-1/2 sacks, another tackle-for-loss and five overall tackles, leading him to be named on Monday the MAC East Division Player of the Week.

“Every time you looked up, Butler was in their backfield,” Martin said.

Gabbert was named on Monday one of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Manning Award “Stars of the Week” after setting single-game career highs in touchdown passes and with 308 yards while going 18-of-27 and rushing for 48 yards. He finished the contest with a QBR rating of 97.6, the top QBR rating in the nation.

Fans can go to the Allstate Sugar Bowl Facebook page to vote for what they think was the best performance from this past weekend. When voting closes on Thursday at noon, the top vote-getter will be announced as the Manning Award Quarterback of the Week.

“I thought I played a decent game,” Gabbert said on Monday. “There were some things I did well. There were some things I did poorly that we saw on film. There’s always stuff you can learn from in each and every game. I thought everybody played well.”

Sorenson left the game with an injury he sustained while catching his fourth touchdown pass with 11:37 left in the fourth quarter. He was listed as a starting wide receiver on the depth chart released by the program on Monday, but that didn’t mean he would be ready for Miami’s game against 3-1 Kent State, scheduled for noon on Saturday at Yager Stadium in Oxford – the 2-1 RedHawks’ first home game since a 38-31 win over Ball State on Nov. 4.

“We came out injury-wise OK,” Martin reported. “For the most part, we’re good. Jack hasn’t been ruled out, but he is doubtful – at least, questionable. If we were using NFL terminology, he’d be doubtful, but if anybody will come out and play, it would be Jack. It’s looking like a long shot for this weekend – unfortunately.”

Saturday’s game is Miami’s regular-season home finale. The RedHawks, tied with Ohio for third place in the East behind Kent State and 4-0 Buffalo, are scheduled to wrap up the regular season on Dec. 12 at Bowling Green.

The last time Miami played fewer than six games in a regular season? That was 1903, when Peter McPherson led the team to a 1-4 record in his second and last season as coach.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Kent State at Miami, Noon, CBS Sports Network, 980, 1450

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