Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Defense, run game improved

Loss to UC yields an aggressive MU

By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor

OXFORD - Miami's offense wasn't the only aspect of the team that looked comfortably familiar to RedHawks fans in Saturday's 40-20 win over Ohio.

The defense, characterized by coach Terry Hoeppner as "tentative" in Miami's loss at Cincinnati a week earlier, looked more like the attacking, turnover-producing unit of 2003.

The defense didn't force any turnovers, but the RedHawks limited the Bobcats to a total of 9 yards rushing and sacked Ohio quarterback Ryan Hawk six times for 53 yards in losses. Junior end Marcus Johnson and sophomore end Tranaine Sills each had two sacks.

Johnson, who was credited with 4 1/2 tackles, was named Mid-American Conference East Division Defensive Player of the Week.

"We definitely came out with a different attitude after getting embarrassed last week," said junior linebacker John Busing, who was second on the team with five tackles. "We played fast, played hard, played physical and got some of our swagger back."

Said Hoeppner: "We didn't expect Ohio to be able to run the ball on us," Hoeppner said. "We needed to put pressure on (Hawk)."

Miami racked up five of the sacks in the first half before Hawk, who started his college career at Miami before transferring, adjusted to the pressure and started escaping. He scored one touchdown in the fourth quarter and passed for another as the Bobcats closed to within 33-20 before Miami added an insurance score.

"We're a work in progress," Hoeppner said. "We still need to find out what we do best and keep doing it. We need to take advantage of the weapons we have and the opportunities our defense and special teams provide. We also need to do a better job of finishing games in the fourth quarter."

BACK IN GEAR: While Miami was shutting down Ohio's running game, the RedHawks' rushing attack showed renewed vigor. Miami gained 146 yards against the Bobcats, also doubling the average of 77.3 yards a game it compiled in the first three games of the season.

"It felt good to get the running game going," said senior running back Mike Smith, who scored two touchdowns, one on a 10-yard run. "We emphasized the running game all week in practice, and it was good to see it pay off."

Fourth-year junior Matt Vogele, a St. Xavier graduate, made his first career reception in the second quarter. The 6-foot-3, 241-pound Vogele, who played on the Bombers' 2001 Division I state runner-up team, switched from linebacker to tight end during spring practice.

His father, Elder graduate Jerry Vogele, played for Michigan and the New England Patriots.

OPPORTUNITY: Third-year sophomore safety Joey Card took advantage when senior free safety Steve Burke was sidelined with a broken right thumb. Card led Miami with seven tackles.

He also came up with what looked like an interception before officials ruled the pass incomplete. Burke could be out for as many as four weeks.

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