Familiar with ’Hawks, Minn. seeks first win

The coaching staff saw Miami of Ohio in the MAC title game last year.

New Mexico State running back Robert Clay walked into the end zone on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium.  Minnesota struggled to stop NMSU's offense throughout the game.

Mark Vancleave

New Mexico State running back Robert Clay walked into the end zone on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. Minnesota struggled to stop NMSU's offense throughout the game.

Samuel Gordon

 

Minnesota will try for the third week in a row to win its first football game of the Jerry Kill era Saturday.

Though the Gophers havenâÄôt played the Miami University (Ohio) RedHawks (0-1) since 2007, they have some familiarity with their opponent thanks to the coaching staff.

While with Northern Illinois, Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill and his regime coached against Miami last season in the Mid-American Conference Championship game.

KillâÄôs Huskies were defeated when Miami scored a touchdown in the final minute. However, the matchup afforded the Minnesota coaching staff some insight on the HawksâÄô players.

âÄúWeâÄôve been able to do our research. Personnel-wise, weâÄôve got a pretty good idea of them. WeâÄôre relying on that and then some past history with some of their coaches,âÄù offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover said.

While Miami of Ohio returns with a plethora of offensive and defensive starters, the coaches are almost entirely new.

First-year head coach Don Treadwell, a graduate of Miami of Ohio, will be pulling the strings for the Hawks. Treadwell was Michigan StateâÄôs offensive coordinator from 2007-10. He served as the Spartans head coach for two games in 2010 while Mark Dantonio was ill.

As a player, Treadwell was an All-MAC receiver as a junior and served as a team captain during his senior season.

Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys said his team has looked at film of TreadwellâÄôs MSU teams.

âÄúA lot of stuff he did at Michigan State âÄî thatâÄôs what theyâÄôre trying to do,âÄù Claeys said. âÄúWeâÄôve studied video. All the empty sets and substitutions will be the things that are our challenge this week.âÄù

Limegrover said that heâÄôs looked at the tape from last yearâÄôs MAC title game, and he assumes that the new Miami staff has as well.

âÄúYou try to look at it and go, âÄòOK, where did they get us? Where were they able to penetrate us, so to speak?âÄô You make sure that youâÄôre prepared for those things,âÄù Limegrover said.

âÄúEven though this is a new group and weâÄôre doing things a little bit differently, thereâÄôs still that thought that they know [us],âÄù he said.

The RedHawks were idle last week. In week one, they played then-No. 21 Missouri close before eventually losing 17-6.

Junior quarterback Zac Dysert is back at the helm. He lacerated his spleen against Bowling Green last year, but made a full recovery in time for the start of the season.

Top target Nick Harwell missed the season opener due to a violation of team rules, but itâÄôs expected that heâÄôll play this week against Minnesota. The sophomore was second-team All-MAC last season.

Wide receiver Chris Givens, a senior now, caught five passes for 112 yards and a touchdown as a true freshman when the teams last met in 2007.

Minnesota prevailed in three overtimes in that meeting and won by a score of 41-35. To keep it from getting to that point again, the Gopher defense, which has yielded 40 first half points this year, will need to get out to a faster start.

Minnesota junior linebacker Mike Rallis said the unit needs to be more aggressive in the first half.

âÄúWe need to come out firing a little more. I know myself, personally, I felt like I came out a little tight,âÄù he said.

âÄúOnce we got into the flow of the game [against New Mexico State] we started getting more downhill and attacking, but we need to do that from the get go. I think thatâÄôs just a mindset.âÄù

Kill still hasnâÄôt returned to the team, but thereâÄôs optimism that heâÄôll be back on the sidelines for SaturdayâÄôs game.