Miami began its season with a 56-10 loss to Ohio State in Columbus, but it rebounded the following week at Yager Stadium with a 30-14 victory over Southern Illinois. The road woes continued with a 39-12 setback on the blue turf at Boise State. The RedHawks climbed over the .500 mark with back-to-back wins over Massachusetts (27-16) and Akron (56-49) before falling, 52-14, to Cincinnati in their final non-conference matchup. Miami went 1-5 the rest of the way with a 23-20 decision over Ohio being the only positive from that stretch. It played Buffalo (27-24) and Ball State (31-24) closely and took beatings from Bowling Green (37-12), Kent State (48-32) and Central Michigan (30-16).
Treadwell has finished both of his seasons as a head coach with a 4-8 overall record and a 3-5 mark in MAC play. His teams are just 2-11 on the road and 2-6 in non-league bouts. Treadwell worked as the offensive coordinator for Cincinnati (2004-06) and Michigan State (2007-10) before taking over the head coaching job at his alma mater.
OFFENSE: Now that Dysert is in training camp with the Denver Broncos, Miami needs a new passer to engineer its pass-happy offensive attack. The RedHawks ranked 22nd in the FBS in passing offense (298.7 yards per game) last season with the record holder under center. Senior Austin Boucher was stranded on the pine for the past two seasons, but he gained valuable experience in 2010 as a rookie when Dysert suffered a late-season injury. Boucher led Miami to four consecutive wins including victories in the MAC Championship game and GoDaddy.com bowl.
Boucher has only attempted 23 total passes over the past two seasons, so he may need some time to shake off the rust. The RedHawks took an unexpected hit when Nick Harwell, who ranks second in program history in career catches and receiving yards, was suspended indefinitely in the spring. Junior wideout Dawan Scott led the team in receiving yards for the majority of 2012 before Harwell caught fire en route to the MAC lead in the category. Scott had a strong showing in the finale, making nine catches for 120 yards and a score. He was the sixth leading receiver in the MAC (851 yards, seven TDs, 57 catches) in 2012. Junior wide receiver Luke Swift and senior tight end Steve Marck will both be targeted more without Harwell and Andy Cruse around.
While the RedHawks were fortunate to have dependable pass catchers, the running game was less fortunate with Jamire Westbrook (361 yards) leading the way. The coach's son, Spencer Treadwell (234 yards) is right behind him on the depth chart in what was the least productive rushing offense in the MAC.
The good news for Miami's front line is that is returns plenty of experience with center Marcus Matthews (6-3, 307) highlighting the group. Unfortunately, the RedHawks' blockers have been unable to create rushing lanes or protect the quarterback very well in recent years. The team finished 112th in the FBS in sacks allowed (3.3 per game ) as well as 118th in rushing offense with only 86.6 yards per contest.
DEFENSE: Miami got off to a shaky start, then showed improvement on the defensive side of the ball as the 2012 season progressed. It was overmatched in the trenches on several occasions, but the defensive backfield only allowed three opponents to amass more than 300 yards through the air.
Junior safety Brison Burris and senior corner Dayonne Nunley picked off three passes apiece in 2012. The team had the 104th ranked average of total yards allowed per game (467.7) yet finished fifth in the MAC in pass defense (226.6 ypg). Defensive coordinator Jay Peterson may utilize press coverages more often to put more bodies near the line of scrimmage to stop the run.
"We're willing to come up and make tackles," said Nunley, who was a first-team All-MAC selection last year. "We've got a no fly zone, so whatever is in the air we have to take in. I want to be top 10 in the country as a team in interceptions, so that's the goal."
Redshirt senior Chris Wade made an impact in his first full season as a starter as he paced the unit with 128 total stops and eight tackles for loss. He will not have much help from his fellow linebackers because Miami has to usher in a pair of underclassmen to start alongside him.
The defensive line is strong on the edges thanks to senior ends Wes Williams and Mwanza Wamulumba. Treadwell signed 15 defensive players to add athleticism and depth in much needed areas. Freshman nose tackles Kris Davis (6-1, 293) and A.J. Burdine (6-3, 270) could both see action early in their careers to solve the front four's problem of being undersized.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Sophomore kicker Kaleb Patterson began his career with a strong showing, connecting on 15-of-18 field goal attempts. He also went 23-of-25 on extra point tries. Senior Zac Murphy averaged 40.5 yards per punt last season, which was just the ninth best mark in the MAC.
The RedHawks need a playmaker to emerge to help out the return game. They picked up just 19 punt return yards all of last season. Scott and Nunley fielded the majority of the kick returns in 2012, however Treadwell will be looking to find a player with less value on offense or defense.
OUTLOOK: Boucher has to become the leader of the team on the field right away if the RedHawks are going to compete for their first bowl berth of the Treadwell era. The job will not be easy if the offensive line continues to act like a revolving door. Miami's tough schedule is another obstacle standing in the way of the postseason.
Treadwell's squad plays its first two games on the road, at Marshall and Kentucky, before it hosts Cincinnati at Yager Stadium. The RedHawks' final non-conference game at Illinois will not be an easy matchup for them either. They kept the same conference foes as last season but the order has been mixed up to their favor. Miami has a strong chance of winning its first three MAC games against Central Michigan, UMass and Akron. The three contests that follow at Ohio, versus Bowling Green and at Kent State are going to be much more difficult. The RedHawks hope to avenge a pair of 2012 losses when they conclude their season with Buffalo and Ball State.
"One of the things that we're truly excited about moving into year three is we've got a group of young men that are seniors now, they've been with us for a couple of years," said Treadwell. "They certainly have great anticipation of the expectation of how we go about practice and the tempo. Therefore, they really set the tone."
Senior leadership was a big factor in Kent State's shocking run to the MAC Championship in 2012. Miami certainly has its fair share of veteran talent. It also has some glaring holes that could hurt in the long run.