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Previewing The Missouri Tigers' 2011 Opponents: Miami (Ohio)

Don Treadwell is the new man in charge for the RedHawks, who look to duplicate their success from 2010.

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Don Treadwell returns to the Miami University program for the first time in 18 years, this time as the head coach. He played wide receiver for the RedHawks from 1978-1981 and then coached the wide receivers and running backs during the 1992 and 1993 campaigns. Treadwell takes over for Mike Haywood, who left to take the same position at Pittsburgh only to be fired a few weeks later on a domestic violence charge.

The RedHawks are coming off a 10-4 season in which they captured the MAC Championship as well as a win in the Bowl, their first bowl victory in seven years. They made history in the process as they became the first team in NCAA Division I history to win ten games immediately following a year in which they lost ten games.

Even though the RedHawks return the majority of their starters on offense, Treadwell will have to replace his leading rusher and receiver from a year ago. The RedHawks will be without the services of running back Thomas Merriweather (921 yards, 12 TD) and wide receiver Armand Robinson (1,062 yards, 6 TD) this season.

Nick Harwell (871 yards, 6 TD) should be the new go-to receiver for the RedHawks after a strong freshman campaign alongside Robinson. You can also expect to see bigger roles from DeMarco Paine (32 catches), Chris Givens (26 catches), Andy Cruse (25 catches) and Lucas Swift (2 catches).

Who will be throwing to that deep corps of receivers? Treadwell has yet to name a starting quarterback going into the season. Junior Zac Dysert started the first 11 games last year before his season was cut short due to a lacerated spleen. Dysert led the RedHawks to 7-4 record, throwing for over 2,400 yards and 13 touchdowns. Sophomore Austin Boucher filled in more than adequately for Dysert leading Miami to wins in the season finale as well as the MAC Championship and the Bowl, where he was named the game’s most valuable player.

Sophomore Tracy Woods (376 yards, TD) takes over as the featured back following Merriweather’s departure. Junior Danny Green should slide into the backup role that Woods occupied in 2010.

The RedHawks return eight starters on defense from a season ago, including six of their front seven. Senior middle linebacker Jerell Wedge (101 tackles, 15 TFL, 3.5 sacks) will anchor a defense that ranked fifth in the MAC last year in both points allowed and yards allowed. Those numbers should improve with a veteran-laden squad in 2011. Junior weakside linebacker Evan Harris led the way with six interceptions a year ago and was second on the team in tackles. Junior defensive end Jason Semmes returns to head an experienced defensive line after leading the team with six sacks in 2010.

If there will be a weakness in the RedHawks defense, it will be in the secondary. Junior cornerback D.J. Brown (2 INT) and junior free safety Pat Hinkel (3 INT) are back to lead a secondary that ranked 10th in the MAC against the pass in 2010. However, there was big play capability back there as they managed to come up with 17 interceptions, good for second most in the league.

Senior strong safety Anthony Kokal (1 INT) and sophomore cornerback Demetrius Quarles (28 tackles) have the most experience of the rest of the secondary and will likely be the two new starters in September.

Miami struggled mightily against their BCS opponents in 2010 and that could very well change in 2011. They return to Columbia looking to at least but up a better fight against the Tigers, who beat them handily 51-13 a season ago. But after that, they have a winnable game at Minnesota and then look for revenge at home against Cincinnati, who embarrassed the RedHawks 45-3 in Cincinnati last October.

Will they be able to duplicate their 2010 success? Their defense should be better this year while their success hinges largely on their offense, where they will need solid play at the quarterback position once again. If Woods and Harwell can fill the shoes left by their predecessors, then Miami could be atop the MAC once again.