Miami’s Treadwell stresses importance of winning home opener

The RedHawks will travel to Boise State this week after evening their record at 1-1 last Saturday with a 30-14 triumph over Southern Illinois at Yager Stadium.

First things first, said MU coach Don Treadwell.

“One thing you always want to do is take a lot of pride in playing well at home,” Treadwell said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “We certainly appreciate the support from our university and greater Oxford community. I think there’s a lot of people that demonstrated they were all in, and we hope more will continue to move forward with that.”

Pat Hinkel’s two interceptions (he returned one for a touchdown) sparked Miami against SIU, a Football Championship Subdivision opponent that fell to 0-2.

The Salukis won the yardage battle (349-336) and showed they can compete with a Football Bowl Subdivision squad like the RedHawks.

“You know the great tradition that Southern had, and we very much respect that,” Treadwell said. “But when we stepped on the field, heck, they had linemen as big or bigger than ours.”

Perhaps the most important result for MU’s long-term success was the emergence of a running game. Freshman Jamire Westbrook got the start and ran five times for 18 yards and a touchdown, while redshirt freshman Spencer Treadwell erupted for 73 yards and a TD on 16 carries.

Don Treadwell said his son, Westbrook and Justin Semmes will likely be the top three backs Saturday in Boise. Westbrook is expected to start again.

“It was certainly good to see some of our younger running backs show some tough, good running,” Coach Treadwell said. “Most good running backs typically just need a crease, and then they’ve got to earn their keep.”

The O-line is still a bit unsettled. Against SIU, playing without guard Brandyn Cook (finger) and center JoJo Williams (leg), the starters were Zach Lewis and Josh Harvey at tackle, Marcus Matthews and Trevan Brown at guard, and Brad Bednar at center.

Backup guard Matt Kennedy suffered a high ankle sprain during the game and is questionable for Saturday. Cook is out indefinitely. Williams dressed against SIU and may very well see action this week.

Asked if Williams would jump back into the starting lineup, Treadwell said probably not. “We’ve got something going pretty decent in there right now,” he added. “JoJo may just, as he gets healthier, be plugged in wherever we need him.”

Treadwell praised tight end Steve Marck (four catches, 73 yards) and punter Zac Murphy (five punts, 42.8-yard average) for their efforts against the Salukis.

Marck, Dustin White and Orlando David combined for seven receptions and 98 yards. That’s the biggest single-day output for MU tight ends since Matt Brandt caught eight Ben Roethlisberger passes for 68 yards against Toledo in 2002.

“It’s been good to see the progress of our tight-end position,” Treadwell said. “It’s something that was more or less nonexistent last year.”

As for Boise State, the Broncos have only played one game, losing 17-13 at Michigan State on Aug. 31.

BSU, ranked 26th in this week’s Associated Press and USA Today polls, is a 20.5-point favorite against the RedHawks.

“There’s nothing negative at all in my mind (about the Broncos’ 0-1 start),” Treadwell said. “Anytime you’re playing your first game and (you’ve) lost a number of starters, you’re going to get your feet wet a little bit as you go. And you’re playing a tremendous program in Michigan State. In my opinion, you’re looking at two top 10 teams playing each other.”

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