Miami turns attention to MAC opener after succesful non-conferece slate

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

OXFORD — A game against a struggling Football Championship Subdivision team couldn’t have come at a better time for Miami.

The RedHawks got to test their ability to focus while at the same time not being too taxed physically while preparing for and then crushing Delaware State, 62-20, in Miami’s home opener on Saturday at Yager Stadium.

The win left the RedHawks 3-1 going into their Mid-American Conference opener at 1-3 Kent State on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.

“Good scheduling,” 10th-year Miami coach Chuck Martin said Monday. “Coming off the Cincinnati game, which was a tough one, the kids and the coaches did a good job. Playing at home, we knew we had a better chance to get through the next one. We got a bunch of guys into the game. A lot of kids played their first college game — tons and tons of kids.

“Physically, they (Delaware State) were up against it. Our kids handled the week good. They were professional. They took care of business.”

Martin was especially pleased with how his team quickly put behind the giddiness of snapping the 16-game losing streak against arch-rival Cincinnati and get back to work.

“I was looking at our execution,” he said. “If you don’t execute, you’re not going to have a good day. I was very pleased with our execution coming off that week. We took care of business and got the job done.”

Miami piled up 466 rushing yards, the second-highest single-game total in program history, 12 shy of the record 478 set in 1975.

“Our second-team O-line did a good job opening holes for the backs to run through,” Martin said. “Once we got the big lead, we didn’t throw it. We were running it. Obviously, the kids were excited to play.”

“I wouldn’t call it a tuneup,” redshirt-junior right tackle Reid Holskey said after the game. “It was a good way to work on stepping forward and keep improving in areas – focusing on areas we could improve on.

“Anytime you win a college football game, it’s fun. We were having a good time. It was great to see a lot of the younger players get in. It was a lot of fun.”

The RedHawks go into MAC play relying on a defense that has allowed opponents to enter the red zone 16 times while giving up just six touchdowns.

“We have a bend-but-don’t-break philosophy,” said redshirt-junior linebacker Matt Salopek, a Kent native who leads the team with 38 overall tackles and 15 unassisted stops. “We’ll give up yards, but not points. That’s a credit to our defense.”

Martin figured the RedHawks go into their eight-game MAC schedule no better or worse physically than any other conference team, all of which have played mostly grueling non-conference, revenue-enhancing schedules that can take tolls on rosters. The major concern is the condition of junior wide receiver Gage Lavardain, who came off the field late in Miami’s first possession holding awkwardly his right arm. He later was seen on the sidelines with ice on his right arm and wearing no pads or a jersey.

“We’ll see how he is (Monday and Tuesday),” Martin said. “We’re nicked up. This is Week Five. We’re beat up pretty good. We were able to get a lot of the starters out early. We’ll see how the week goes.”

Miami junior kicker Graham Nicholson was named on Monday the MAC East Division Special Teams Player of the Week after connecting on all six of his extra-point attempts and field goals of 44 and 19 yards.


Miami at Kent State, 2:30 p.m., ESPN+, 980, 1450

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