Video footage from Miami’s 21-0 Victory Bell loss to Cincinnati told Chuck Martin little that he didn’t already know.
Rain fell the whole game. The Bearcats’ defense was stout and their run-oriented offense wasn’t nearly as affected by the conditions as Miami’s pass-reliant attack. The RedHawks missed a couple of opportunities to get back in the game on both sides of the ball, from not recovering a fumble at Cincinnati’s 9-yard line despite having the ball surrounded to senior quarterback Gus Ragland missing sophomore tight end Andrew Homer on what could have been a big play – perhaps even a touchdown.
“I felt like we had more opportunities than they had, but we didn’t cash in,” Martin said during his Monday media session.
It all added up to 0-2 going into Miami’s final non-conference game of the season on Saturday at Minnesota.
“It was an interesting night,” Martin said. “I’ve been in showers like that, but they usually let up.”
One key factor was the impact that hidden yardage – the yards teams gain or lose based on special teams compared to their opponents – had on the game. Field position always is vital in football games, and even more crucial in those played in Saturday’s environment.
Where it hurt the most was in the second quarter, when senior Kenny Young’s punt return from Miami’s 47-yard line deep into Cincinnati territory was called back by a clipping penalty. The RedHawks were left with first down from their own 37.
“We were plus-18 in hidden yardage in the first half,” Martin pointed out. “We would’ve been plus-60 if not for the clipping. In the second half, we were minus-60 in hidden yardage. They kicked away from Kenny in the second half. Losing that field position in a game like that is critical.”
Miami also was hurt by its inability to run the ball. The RedHawks have gained a combined 146 yards rushing in their first two games, fewer than both of their opponents picked up in their game, and rank last in the Mid-American Conference with an average of 73 rushing yards per game. They’re 10thin the 12-team MAC with an average of 3.2 yards per carry.
“We need to focus on our mistakes before we worry about our opponents,” senior left guard Sam McCollum said. “It’s all internal. We have some stuff to clean up.”
McCollum also pointed out that the offensive line has allowed just one sack, while Martin was pleased that Miami cut its penalties in half, from eight for 71 yards against Marshall to four for 45 yards against Cincinnati. The RedHawks have turned the ball over once in two games. On the other hand, they haven’t forced any turnovers.
“In spite of the conditions, it was a pretty clean game,” he said.
The RedHawks came out of the game in about the same physical shape as last week, Martin said – with some players who won’t practice much this week, but will be ready on Saturday.
“We’ve played two really physical games,” he said. “We took a lot of pounding on defense from them the running the ball up the middle a lot.”
The loss left the RedHawks 0-9 in the Martin Era against their two biggest rivals, Cincinnati and Ohio. Martin was asked what he would say to any fans growing restless about the mounting losses.
“As fans, they should be restless,” he said. “They should be disappointed. That’s what I would be. They’re no more frustrated or disappointed than we are.”