Game Preview: Miami (OH) Redhawks
It's finally here! This Saturday Iowa will kick off its 2019 Football season as they welcome the Redhawks of Miami (OH) to historic Kinnick Stadium at 6:40 C.T. Iowa will enter the contest ranked 20th in the AP Poll and 19th in the USA Today Coaches Poll after finishing last year with a 9-4 record The Hawks rounded out the 2018 campaign with a victory over Mississippi State in the Outback Bowl. The Redhawks come to Iowa City off a 6-6 2018 season saw them go 6-2 in the MAC conference. Iowa is listed as a 21.5 point favorite as of Wednesday night.
Iowa's Offense Against Miami (OH)'s Defense
This could be the most intriguing matchup to watch on Saturday night. Iowa is tasked with replacing a ton of receiving from a year ago and may start slow as they try to find their identity on offense. I look for this matchup to be dominated up front by Iowa, as Miami (OH), in the limited game film I could find from a year ago, got pushed around in run defense. Pass defense should be the strength this Redhawk defense, as they return much of their secondary from a year ago. The Redhawks also have a familiar face to Iowa fans in the defensive backfield as former Hawkeye Manny Rugamba is set to make his return to Kinnick Stadium. I see Iowa only attempting to pass when necessary and relying on the three-headed monster at running back to carry the offense. As I mentioned in the season preview, I think the playcalling on offense in this game will be very generic, with Brian Ferentz not really showing anything new in playcalling until he absolutely has to. In my mind, Iowa starts slow but finds its groove against an undermanned Miami defense.
Iowa's Defense Against Miami (OH)'s Offense
This matchup should be fun to watch as a Hawkeye fan, and not any fun at all for Miami fans. The Redhawks have 3 quarterbacks listed as possible starters as they look to replace long-time starter Gus Ragland. Whomever Coach Chuck Martin chooses to take the snaps at quarterback will have their hands full. I expect A.J. Epenesa to live in the backfield and wreak havoc in both pass rush and run stopping. I expect Phil Parker to employ a platoon style sub package along the defensive line again this year, and the backups should get plenty of run in this game. The Iowa defense will stifle this Miami offense and get the ball back to Nate Stanley and company in great field position most of the day.
I don't know a ton about Miami's special teams, but I think the things to look for in this phase of the game are less about what Miami is doing and more about what Iowa looks like. It appears that Iowa will platoon at placekicker, with both Keith Duncan and Caleb Shudak getting an opportunity. Shudak is expected to handle kickoffs. I am really interested in seeing graduate transfer punter Michael Sleep-Dalton, but that may have to wait because Iowa shouldn't have to punt often in this game.
I think hands down the most exciting part of this game may be in punt returning and kick returning. I am excited to see how Ihmir Smith-Marsette handles both jobs, and I expect him to have a good day fielding and returning punts and kicks.
I have not wavered in my thinking on this one. It may take Iowa a couple of series to get a flow going without Hockenson and Fant, but I expect the offense to find its groove and the defense to be stifling. Epenesa should be poised for a monster game, and I expect Toren Young and Mekhi Sargent to torch the Redhawk defense. With grad transfer Oliver Martin being granted immediate eligibility on Wednesday, I expect him to get a few targets and be impressive in his Kinnick Stadium debut. Iowa wins this one going away.
Miami (OH) 7
As always, On Iowa! and Go Hawks!
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