Flashes host downtrodden Miami on Senior Night

Senior+running+back+Dri+Archer+dots+through+the+Akron+defense+on+Saturday+Oct.+26%2C+2013.+Kent+State+will+face+Miami+of+Ohio+tonight+at+Dix+Stadium+at+8%3A00+p.m.+Photo+by+Brian+Smith.

Senior running back Dri Archer dots through the Akron defense on Saturday Oct. 26, 2013. Kent State will face Miami of Ohio tonight at Dix Stadium at 8:00 p.m. Photo by Brian Smith.

Nick Shook

For Kent State to break its five-game losing streak, there is no better time than the present.

At least that is how it appears heading into Wednesday’s 8 p.m. contest against winless Miami (Ohio) at Dix Stadium. The Flashes, aiming to earn their first win since Sept. 28, enjoyed the luxury of an 11-day break between their 16-7 loss to rival Akron.

The bye week allowed Kent State to rest and recover for the first time in 2013 after playing 10 straight weeks. It was long overdue for a team that has suffered injuries at nearly every starting position, most notably at quarterback, defensive tackle and running back.

To make matters appear even better for the Flashes (2-8, 1-5 Mid-American Conference), Miami (0-9, 0-5 MAC) is without starting quarterback Austin Boucher, lost for the season because of injury. That leaves backups Drew Kummer and Austin Gearing to lead the RedHawks, who have combined to throw a mere 41 passes in 2013.

Miami is playing in its fifth game since the firing of head coach Don Treadwell and near the lowest of lows, coming off a 45-3 loss to MAC opponent Bowling Green last week. It was the second major step backward in as many weeks for a team that had become competitive in close losses to UMass and Akron in October. With division leaders Buffalo and Ball State awaiting Miami in the final two weeks of the RedHawks’ schedule, this may be their best chance of recording a win in 2013.

The Stater caught up with The Miami Student’s sports editor Tom Downey to learn more about the RedHawks before Wednesday’s nationally televised game.

Nick Shook: As an outsider, it appears as though 2013 has been the season in which the RedHawks have just about hit rock bottom. What went into the firing of Don Treadwell after just five games into the season, and have things gotten any better since his dismissal?

Tom Downey: The RedHawks pretty much have hit rock bottom. Athletic Director David Sayler fired Treadwell because the players didn’t seem confident, and Sayler didn’t think Treadwell had a plan to fix the program. Sayler said when he saw the look on the players’ faces, he knew he had to make a change. The offense Treadwell tried to install had to play a role as well. Trying to run a wishbone offense with the personnel he had was a terrible decision. Treadwell inherited a team that had just won the MAC, and had lost his last nine games before getting canned. I’d say things have gotten better, but at this point, it’s too late. Miami needs a culture change in the worst way.

NS: Obviously with any winless team this late in the season, there aren’t many bright spots. But despite all of the turmoil the RedHawks have undergone in 2013, what positives can you take away from the season?

TD: Well, the special teams have been good. Zac Murphy has proven to be one of the best punters in college football, so I guess there is that. A lot of young guys are getting the chance to play, so they’ll have experience in the future.

NS: Looking past the nine losses, which players have stood out in Miami’s closer contests?

TD: I’ve already mentioned Murphy, but he might just be the team MVP. It’s been that type of season for Miami. Kent Kern, a sophomore linebacker, has really taken a step forward this season and should be a mainstay for the future. Senior cornerback Dayonne Nunley has been a playmaker on defense and, despite his size, has the chance to be a late-round NFL pick.

NS: What’s the team’s morale heading into a weeknight national television broadcast on the road against a conference opponent in Kent State?

TD: Miami got embarrassed against Bowling Green at home. The 45-3 loss was the worst in school history in a MAC game for the RedHawks. I think they want to bounce back, and they know this might represent Miami’s last shot for win, given who they have left. They still have yet to win a game this season, and morale is always going to be low in a situation like this, but it could be worse.

NS: Your prediction?

TD: Miami is without its starting quarterback Austin Boucher, who is done for the year. That means Miami will rely on Austin Gearing and Drew Kummer at QB. That’s not a good thing. Miami offense is the worst in college football, and the defense isn’t that much better. Kent is going to have a field day on the ground with Dri Archer. Flashes win 20-7.

Nick Shook is the football reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]