Preview 2017: Miami University Ready To Take The East?
After years of problem, Miami University looks ready to be a major MAC player. Can it finally be the star of the East?
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Is Miami about to become a MAC superpower?
Head coach Chuck Martin was special at Grand Valley State, going 74-7 in six years with two D-II national titles before leaving to become a key assistant at Notre Dame. Then he became the next guy up for the Cradle of Coaches school in 2014.
But it was the same old Miami, going 5-19 in Martin’s first two seasons and 0-6 halfway through last year.
Enter QB Gus Ragland, who took over the offense after recovering from a knee injury, the schedule eased up, and boom. One six-game winning streak later, and the RedHawks were off to a bowl game for the first time since 2010.
And now comes the big question: was it all a mirage?
Yeah, the RedHawks were able to push Mississippi State hard in the 17-16 bowl loss, but Eastern Michigan was the only team of substance they beat. Of course, beating the bad MAC teams on the schedule is part of the deal – Miami couldn’t do that over the years – but can Martin, Ragland and the bunch start to beat the better ones?
The defense was for real, and now it should be even better with nine starters back from a group that allowed just 353 yards per game.
Ragland was for real, turning into the exact catalyst the program needed, and everyone of note is back around him to once again crank up a passing attack that was among the nation’s most efficient.
Martin and coaching staff are for real. Again, the guy has won before – even if it was at the lower level – and all the work done to set the foundation is starting to work.
And now the expectations are there to do more. Everything is in place to win the East and be a factor for the MAC title. And everything is in place to make Miami University a player in the conference for a while.
The RedHawks are overdue.