OXFORD -- Miami went into Saturday’s Mid-American Conference East Division football game at Bowling Green with the conference’s stingiest rushing defense, allowing an average of just 88.8 yards per game.
The Falcons’ offense ranked 11th in the 12-team MAC with an average of 102.3 rushing yards per game, yet they practically doubled the number of yards the visiting RedHawks had been yielding on the ground, generating 176 on the way to a 17-13 win.
“We have to do a better of communicating and getting on the same page,” 6-foot-1, 216-pound junior nickel back Michael Dowell said on Monday during Miami’s weekly football media session. “We’ve all got to get better. Instead of giving up a 55-yard play, we’ve got to force more three-and-outs.
“They ran some different plays and different offensive schemes. We had to adjust. Every week is different. Teams try to scheme you up differently.”
The running game helped Bowling Green pile up 325 yards of offense, but Miami coach Chuck Martin considered his team’s offense to be more of a concern. The RedHawks went into the game averaging 322.2 yards per game but could squeeze out only 189. Redshirt-freshman quarterback Aveon Smith was 9-of-17 for 91 yards through the air and led Miami with 55 yards rushing.
“Obviously, not the result we were looking for,” the ninth-year Miami coach said. “It was a frustrating day offensively. We weren’t efficient passing the ball. We had guys open with an opportunity to make a big play and we couldn’t get them the ball. Those are plays you have to make in a tight ballgame. We didn’t execute. We’ve got to do a better job in the passing game.
“We didn’t run the ball efficiently. It wasn’t just one thing. We’ve got to get the running game cleaned up.
“Our defensive effort was solid, but we can do better. We’re just not as explosive as we want to be on offense.”
The loss left Miami (3-4, 1-2) tied with Kent State for fourth in the MAC East, two games behind first-place Buffalo. The RedHawks were picked in a pre-season MAC media poll to win the division while Kent State was picked in a pre-season of conference coaches to win the title. Both teams need help if they want to live up to the predictions.
Miami is scheduled to play Western Michigan (2-5, 1-2) of the MAC West on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Yager Stadium in the third of five RedHawks’ games on their familiar home turf, followed by a noon game on Oct. 29 at Akron (1-6, 0-3).
Buffalo (4-3, 3-0), coming off a 34-7 non-conference win at Massachusetts, is scheduled to play at home against West-leading Toledo (5-2, 3-0) on Saturday.
The RedHawks need to win three of their last five games to become bowl-eligible, but Dowell suggested the team isn’t focusing on that. Their goal is a division championship and berth in the MAC Championship game, scheduled for Dec. 3 at Detroit’s Ford Field.
Dowell, a Lakewood St. Edward product and transfer from Michigan State who leads Miami with 31 solo tackles and ranks second behind seventh-year middle linebacker Ryan McWood with 58 total tackles, rated the RedHawks’ overall mood as “good.”
“We’re trying to get to 2-2 (in the MAC),” Dowell said. “That’s what coach Martin said. We’re just trying to get better every day.”