The fifth game of the college football season is upon Oxford, and it is a crucial one for the RedHawks. Miami is winless, sitting at 0-4 for the second time in three seasons, hoping to finally give first-year head coach Don Treadwell his first victory when the Army Black Knights (2-3) visit Yager Stadium Saturday.
This is an important game for the ‘Hawks, as it is the final non-conference test of the season before the annual MAC marathon begins. The ‘Hawks and Knights first faced each other in 1960, but have squared off only three times since then. The Black Knights won that first meeting, 30-7 and the second time around in 1996 by a 27-7 score. Miami has won the last two matches, 38-14 in ’97 and 14-13 in ’98. The 1996 game was the only one played in Oxford.
Army’s offense is obscenely one-sided, as the Black Knights are the second-best team in the nation in ground yardage (368.4 yards per game), but are only passing for a dismal 45 yards per game. That’s good news for Miami’s secondary, which is only allowing 181.5 yards per game, but you know the ‘Hawks linebackers cannot be looking forward to this test. The Knights’ leading rusher is actually QB Trent Steelman, who has racked up 437 yards on the ground (opposed to 205 through the air on just 11-of-28 passing). RB Raymond Maples has 423 yards so far this season, and RB Malcolm Brown has 303. Even their fourth-best rusher, RB Jared Hassin has 246 yards to his credit! If that doesn’t give defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis nightmares, I don’t know what does.
Don’t look for this to be the game that the Miami running game gets its wheels turning. This one will still be on QB Zac Dysert and his receiving corps to make things happen. Army’s defense is hardly impenetrable, serving up 203.4 yards per game through the air, and 370.8 total. WR Nick Harwell will be looking for his fourth consecutive 100-yard game, which would tie a program record.
Miami still needs to get its act together on special teams. K Mason Krysinski missed a 34-yard field goal against Cincinnati last week, his second miss in only four attempts. He also has missed two PATs. The punting game is also a mess, as P Zac Murphy lost some of his kicks to S Anthony Kokal. Though Kokal did boot a 61-yarder, he also had a few bad shanks, and averages just 32.3 yards on his seven punts (not even as good as Murphy’s 36.8).
At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, busts of Ara Parseghian, John Pont, Bo Schembechler and Earl Blaick will be unveiled in the Cradle of Coaches Plaza in a public ceremony. Kickoff for the game will be at 1:00 p.m. EST, which will be broadcast on ESPN3.