College Football: Pass defense a big concern for RedHawks

Nate Becker described the Miami football offense in general and he and his fellow tight ends in particular as "feeling pretty good" about themselves following the RedHawks' 40-39 Mid-American Conference loss on Saturday to Western Michigan.

»RELATED: Broncos outlast RedHawks in shootout

Miami coach Chuck Martin surmised that the defensive backfield didn’t share that feeling.

“I’m sure most of the units feel good after watching the film,” the fifth-year coach said Monday . “One unit shouldn’t feel so good.”

The Broncos torched a crippled RedHawks pass defense for 439 yards and five touchdowns, dropping Miami to 1-4 overall and 1-1 in the MAC. Senior cornerback Deondre Daniels missed the game with an injury and senior safety D’Andre Montgomery was ejected in the second quarter after being penalized for targeting, but Martin wasn’t prepared to use those absences as an excuse.

“We defended the run well the whole game,” he pointed out. “We were not displeased with the run defense. We didn’t defend the pass well in key situations.

“We were a little shorthanded. We were disappointed some guys didn’t step up. They need to do that.”

The Broncos gained just 123 yards on the ground, 102 below the MAC-leading average they carried into the game, but they also converted 7-of-13 third downs and 3-of-4 fourth downs, negating the two Western Michigan fumbles recovered by Miami and Maurice Thomas’s 99-yard return of the opening kickoff for a RedHawks touchdown.

“That’s the story of the game,” said Martin, confirming that Montgomery will be available for Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. MAC road game against defending East Division-champion Akron.

Still, Miami led the back-and-forth game – the lead changed hands four times – 33-21 with 3:21 left in the third quarter and had a chance to win before Sam Sloman’s 50-yard field goal try in the waning seconds sailed a couple of yards wide right.

“It was a crazy big game,” Martin said. “It was a crazy back-and-forth game. We were getting outgained significantly in the first half, but we were doing what you have to do win a game – special teams and getting turnovers.”

If he had to do it over again, Martin said he would send Sloman out again to kick.

“He’s had a crazy strong leg all year,” Martin said. “He kicked a (44-yarder) earlier in the game, and it would have been good from 60.”

While some defensive backups weren’t capable against Western Michigan, sophomore wide receivers Jack Sorenson and Dominique Robinson were effective with senior wide receiver James Gardner and running back Kenny Young – frequent targets of senior quarterback Gus Ragland – out with injuries. Sorenson finished with nine catches for 156 yards. Robinson caught two of Ragland’s three touchdown passes and a total of four for 59 yards.

“A lot of guys the last two weeks have stepped up,” Martin said.

“We have seven more opportunities to win games and get to where we want to be,” Becker said. “We watch film again today at 4 (p.m.), so I’ll be able to get a better gauge on it, but if you can’t get excited for seven more opportunities, then I don’t know.”

Game time: Kickoff for Miami's home game against Kent State on Oct. 13 has been scheduled for 2:30 p.m.


Miami at Akron, 3:30 p.m., 980, 1450

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