Sept. 9, 2021: Following their week one defeat, the Gophers will host the Miami (OH) Redhawks Saturday morning, for their first non-conference game of 2021.
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- Date: Sat., Sept. 9
- TV channel: ESPNU
- Time of kickoff: 11:00 a.m. (CT)
- Broadcast team: John Schriffen (play-by-play) and Rene Ingoglia (color analyst)
Opponent Information (Ohio State):
- 2020 record: 1-2
- 2021 record: 0-1 (14-49 @ No. 8 Cincinnati)
- Head Coach: Chuck Martin (8th season)
- Returning starters: 18
- Players to watch: Brett Gabbert/A.J. Mayer (QB), Keyonn Mozee (RB), Sterling Weatherford (S), Kameron Butler Jr. (DE)
The Golden Gophers welcome the Redhawks of Miami (OH) to Huntington Bank Stadium in a week two tilt between two 0-1 teams. The Redhawks are coming off of a 14-49 defeat to the hands of No. 8 Cincinnati in week one. They were outgained 278 total yards to 542 as well as allowing a remarkable eight yards per rush to the Bearcats’ lethal rushing attack. Minnesota will look to find the same success against a Miami program that is only two seasons removed from a MAC title game victory.
Miami (OH) season storylines:
- QB situation (Brett Gabbert/A.J. Mayer):
Presumptive starting redshirt-sophomore quarterback Brett Gabbert (the younger brother of NFL QB Blaine Gabbert) has been quite productive throughout his collegiate career, winning eight of his 15 career starts under center and leading the Redhawks to a conference title in his only season as a starter. After a prolific 2019 freshman season that saw him total 2,411 passing yards and 14 total touchdowns en-route to earning MAC Freshman of the Year, Gabbert’s college career was then supposed to take off. After suffering a concussion in week two of the 2020 season, he would not make another start that season. Heading into fall camp this season he suffered a knee injury, which prevented him from getting consistent reps in live practice. After a normal recovery, he was still expected to start in week one, but a thumb injury prevented him from really getting any reps at all. While still suiting up against Cincy, his team decided to deploy redshirt-sophomore QB A.J. Mayer in favor of Gabbert.
Mayer would struggle mightily in his season debut, completing only 9 of 28 passes 109 yards. His inability to stretch the ball down the field prevented the Redhawks to find any significant success on offense. Miami has been a different team over the past three seasons while Brett Gabbert is under center. There is still no official word on who the team would like to start, but I believe that Gabbert would make this a much different offense than we saw in week one.
Last season, Miami struggled mightily in the secondary. Other than a dominating performance over Akron (one of the worst team’s in CFB), it was torn up by Ball State and Buffalo for 662 passing yards and five total scores. Oddly enough, given the extremely small sample size, the Redhawks had the most prolific pass rush in the country averaging four sacks per game.
Returning 10 total starters in 2021, the defense was expected to be strong up front, and still have a major hole in the secondary. They looked to be one of those things in week one and it wasn’t the first one. This defense got absolutely man-handled upfront allowing 247 rushing yards and three touchdowns on only 31 carries. Cincinnati also had plenty of time to throw all day. All-Conference QB Desmond Ridder completed 20 of his 25 passes for 295 yards and four touchdowns. As a whole, the defense looked like it has many more questions than answers after week one. Their two biggest playmakers, safety Sterling Weatherford and defensive end Kameron Butler Jr. certainly made their presence felt, but I do not think either player can do enough to fix this debacle.
- Offensive playmakers:
Leading rusher from a season ago Zach Kahn is one of three starters to leave the Redhawks offense, so they have turned to redshirt-freshman Kansas State transfer Keyon Mozee. Mozee is likely Miami’s most talented offensive player and he showed that in week one with 15 carries for 80 yards. He runs behind an offensive line that lost two starters from a season ago, but should still be one of the best in the MAC. If this offense will find any success against the Gophers it will likely have a lot to do with Mozee.
As for the pass catchers, Penn State transfer Mac Hippenhammer is the team’s No. 1 option. In week one he led the team with three receptions for 64 receiving yards. Miami’s group of playmakers is far from special, but they certainly have the talent to make big plays. The man who will get them involved lines up behind center. If they get another poor performance from the quarterback position, I can’t see a scenario where this offense moves the ball against the Gophers.
Gophers’ path to victory:
I think the most common way for major upsets to happen in college football, is the underdog winning the turnover battle. If Miami forces the Gophers into consistently making mistakes and getting out of rhythm, that is the only way that this game will stay competitive. After allowing eight yards-per-carry in their week one matchup, the Redhawks have shown that they have a massive question in their run defense. Even with Mohamed Ibrahim out for the season, I believe the strength of this Gophers’ team will continue to be their running game. Their offensive line just dominated Ohio State for close to two quarters, so I believe they will have zero problem handing Miami (OH) for all four.
This is a great opportunity for Minnesota to plan for how it would like to replace Ibrahim going forward. I expect Trey Potts to take on the biggest role, while Cam Wiley and Bryce Williams will also be very much involved. I would also not be surprised if freshmen, Bucky Irving and Ky Thomas were given an opportunity to showcase their talent. I expect whoever carrying the ball to find great success running behind this dominant Gophers’ offensive line and questionable Miami front seven.
The Gophers will have to commit a lot of mistakes and give this game away to Miami if it will remain competitive at all. I believe we could see a better Redhawks offense if Gabbert starts behind center, but I still don’t think they will have enough firepower to keep up with a Minnesota team that just put 31 points on the No. 4 team in the country. The talent gap within the trenches is far too wide, which I believe will lead to the Gophers coming away with a convincing victory.