Miami University hits road again, renews series vs. UMass

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Chuck Martin logged his first win as a Football Bowl Subdivision head coach on Oct. 4, 2014, when his Miami RedHawks stormed back from a 27-point halftime deficit to edge the University of Massachusetts, 42-41, at Yager Stadium in Oxford in what then was a Mid-American Conference game.

The win snapped a program-record 21-game losing streak, and Martin has recalled being amazed at the level of jubilation over just one win.

Now in his 10th season with Miami, Martin and the RedHawks are scheduled to renew the series with the now-independent Minutemen on Saturday when they travel to Amherst for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff at UMass’s McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

The RedHawks are scheduled to continue non-conference play against Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium on Sept. 16 before their home opener against Football Championship Subdivision Delaware State on Sept. 23.

The Minutemen are 1-1 are 1-1 with a season-opening 41-30 win at New Mexico State and 59-14 loss at Auburn. They are 6-0 in home openers under coach Don Brown and feature a completely revamped offense led by 6-foot-4, 215-pound Georgia Tech transfer Taisun Phommachanh, who leads the team in passing and ranks second in rushing.

“They have a dual-threat quarterback, which means we have to prepare for a lot of things,” senior defensive tackle Austin Ertl said on Monday. “We have to communicate really well.”

Phommachanh, who also played at Clemson and is one of four new quarterbacks on UMass’s roster, left the Auburn game with tape on left shin and a brace on right knee before returning to finish.

“He was not in any kind of danger playing,” Brown told reporters after the game. “He’s a competitor, wants to stay in the game and we’re trying to do our best to give him his opportunity to lead our offense. At the same time, we felt he was good enough to continue. Otherwise, we’d have taken him out of the game.”

“They’re interesting,” said Martin, who’s 45-60 with the RedHawks. “They’ve got a good, athletic quarterback. ... They’re big, strong and athletic. They do a nice job of running the football, and they have high-end skill guys. Their defense is aggressive. They pressure a lot. They have a pretty fast, twitchy group on defense. Our passing game wasn’t very good, and they play a ton of man coverage.”

Miami, coming off a 38-3 season-opening loss at Miami (Fla.), is 3-1 in the series against UMass. That includes a 20-13 win at Amherst on Nov. 21, 2015, which was the RedHawks first road win since September, 2012.

Martin was more concerned with getting his team healthy and fixing issues revealed in the Game 1 loss to the Power Five-level Hurricanes. While Miami suffered just one major injury, tight end Jack Coldiron’s torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee that will end his season, the number of bumps and bruises inflicted on the RedHawks had the staff working overtime to get the players back on track physically.

“We’re doing yoga as we speak,” he said Monday morning during the program’s weekly media session.

Martin also was hoping to get more production out of his offense. The Hurricanes limited Miami to 51 yards rushing, making it difficult for the RedHawks to implement Martin’s preferred approach of using the running game to set up the passing game.

“We have to execute better in the passing game,” he said. “We’ve got to run the football. That’s going to be an emphasis. We’re going to run the football this weekend. We’ve got to run the football.”


Miami at UMass, 3:30 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450

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