OXFORD, Ohio – The Miami University football team looks to return to the basics this upcoming season, as it plans on running the ball more frequently.
The RedHawks finished first in the Mid-American Conference in passing offense a year ago, but were last in rushing offense, averaging 102.8 yards per game.
Some of that disparity was by design, as former Miami quarterback Zac Dysert was one of the top passers in the country. But the Miami coaching staff would like to become more balanced in 2013 and, to do that, the offensive line must improve its consistency.
“We have to become tougher and focus on running the ball,” RedHawk offensive line coach Ed Stults said. “If you improve your fundamentals – your footwork and your technique – no matter what scheme you run, you are going to be a better unit.”
The RedHawks have lost Brad Bednar, JoJo Williams and Matt Kennedy to graduation, but return an experienced group. Returnees include senior Josh Harvey (6-5, 355 lbs.), junior Zach Lewis (6-6, 282), junior Marcus Matthews (6-3, 310) and junior Trevan Brown (6-4, 295), who combined for 41 starts last season.
“We lost Brad and he’ll be a key (departure) because he had a lot of experience,” Stults said. “But just like any other position, the next guy has to come in and prove he can play and that’s what spring is all about, finding out who those five guys are going to be.”
Stults said that even though the team returns several of its main contributors, no one is guaranteed a starting spot.
“It’s all wide open right now,” he said. “The thing I tell them everyday is there is no entitlement. You’re not entitled to anything except to come out here and work hard.”
In addition to Lewis, Brown, Matthews and Harvey, Miami also expects senior John Anevski (6-3, 283) and red-shirt freshman Brandyn Cook (6-2, 291) to step up this year. Both players are coming off season-ending injuries, as Cook sustained a broken hand and Anevski underwent knee surgery.
Cook started in Miami’s season opener against Ohio State, but didn’t play the rest of the season.
“He’s still trying to knock the rust off,” Stults said. “He just missed a lot of time, a lot of reps and a chance to get better. He’s got a long ways to go, but he’s a tough guy, a physical guy and we are excited to have him back.”
Anevski played in three games last year and didn’t see action after Week 5.
Also in the mix are three redshirt freshmen in Nick Custer (6-4, 277), Ryan Callen (6-5, 275) and Terry Davis (6-4, 318).
“They have to come in and give us some quality time in there,” Stults said.