PictureThe new John Harbaugh statue.
Story and Photos by MIKE SMITH
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh took his place among a storied group of Miami coaching legends Saturday as Miami unveiled a statue of the former MU player in the Cradle of Coaches Plaza. After the ceremony, he watched as the Miami RedHawks football team took time to work on another niche of Miami history.

The RedHawks are coming off a winless 2013 campaign and have endured three losing seasons since winning a 2010 MAC championship and subsequent bowl game. Former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, himself a former two-time American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year, was hired in December to replace Don Treadwell and is now working to restore MU’s success.  He concluded a spirited practice Saturday by reminding players that they – along with coaches – are the current caretakers of Miami football. 

Harbaugh, who qualified for the prestigious spot by guiding the Baltimore Ravens to a 2013 Super Bowl title, is the ninth former Miami player or coach to be recognized with a statue in the Cradle of Coaches Plaza.  Some of the names might be more familiar than others, depending upon one’s age and/or knowledge of football history.  Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Paul Brown and Weeb Ewbank are a some of the most recognizable names for a wide fan base. However, Earl (Red) Blaik gained national fame (and a national championship) as a coach at powerful Army in the 1940s. 

PictureJohn Harbaugh signs gives an autograph.
Jim Tressel, who led Ohio State to a national title in 2002, enjoyed the most recent success among those honored with a statue in the plaza. However, the addition of Harbaugh won quick recognition among younger fans – and also with a host of potential recruits who came to Oxford.

PAST AND PRESENT
Saturday’s statue unveiling and practice was a confluence of past history and history in the making. It’s a common theme at Miami, and actually something that helped lure Martin to take over a winless program. He was aware of the Miami’s historical track record, up to and including the 2010 championship. Given the right touch – and staff – it could be argued that reestablishing a successful RedHawks football program might be more manageable than rebuilding at some other institutions. 

Martin has been realistic about the task, acknowledging there is plenty of work to be done and the entire process might take several years. Indeed, early efforts to right the ship have included a heavy dose of fundamentals.

At the same time, it seems like he has brought more than hope to the process. 


 
 
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KALAMAZOOMich. - Zach Terrell threw for a game-high 240 yards and three touchdowns as the Gold Team defeated the Brown Team, 28-17, in the annual Western Michigan Brown and Gold "Wooden Oar" game on Saturday afternoon.


Corey Davis, Kendrick Roberts and Darius Phillips were each on the receiving end of Terrell's touchdown passes. Davis led all receivers with 101 yards. Kendricks tied Phillips with a game-high four catches and also had 73 yards. 

Cameron Thomas quarterbacked the Brown team to 101 yards and a touchdown through the air and also had a rushing touchdown. Edward Rolle led Gold with a game-high eight tackles and teammate Devon Brant had a 64-yard interception return for a touchdown.

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DeKALBIll. – The Northern Illinois Huskies wrapped up 2014 spring football practices Saturday at Huskie Stadium with a modified version of the “Huskie Bowl,” won by the Cardinal Team made up of the entire NIU defense.  

Points were awarded for one-one-one drills, a field goal competition and third-down conversions in seven-on-seven situations before the offense and defense squared off in a non-tackling scrimmage.  

Following all of the drills, field goals and seven-on-seven plays, the Cardinal (Defense) led the Black (Offense), 33-30.  The scrimmage session was all defense, though, as the Cardinal Team earned 36 points for forcing three-and-outs and turnovers, and stopping the offense before it reached midfield.

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BUFFALONY – Jordan Johnson rushed for 114 yards and two touchdown to help lead the Blue team to a 20-8 victory over the White squad at the annual Spring Game played at UB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

 Johnson had his 114 yards on 17 carries - a 6.7 yards per carry average. The sophomore running back had touchdown runs of 10 and 43 yards. Anthone Taylor paced the White squad's running attack with 42 yards on 15 carries. Devin Campbell carried the ball five times for 12 yards. 

With Joe Licata out of spring drills recovering from an injury, Tony Daniel and Collin Michael took most of the reps at quarterback. Daniel went 13-of-26 for 163 yards while Michael finished 16-of-32 for 175 yards. Walk-on Craig Slowik also saw time and completed 2-of-11 passes for 35 yards.

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AKRONOhio – The University of Akron football team closed out its spring practice schedule with a 3-all tie in the annual Blue-Gold Spring Game on Saturday afternoon at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field.

Gold took a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter when Zach Gingerich converted a 31-yard field goal to close out a 12-play, 67-yard drive with Nick Hirschman under center. That drive, which started on the Gold 20, opened with a 15-yard pass to Austin Wolf. Seven plays later, Wolf reeled in a 29-yard strike to bring his squad inside the red zone, and Gingerich nailed the field goal to put Gold up 3-0.

Hirschman, one of five quarterbacks to earn playing time, ended the game 7-of-13 passing for 124 yards.

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Ball State’s football team conducted wrapped up its 2014 spring practices Saturday with its annual Spring Scrimmage. Using a modified scoring system, the defense defeated the offense by a 44-22 margin.
 
“We had a great crowd here and we got through the day pretty healthy,” said head coach Pete Lembo, who will be in his fourth season at the Cardinals helm this fall.  “I think our defense continues to move forward and grow up.  Offensively, we are a work in progress.  We had some special teams guys step up today and that was good to see.  We are looking forward to the summer and fall camp as we prepare for Colgate Aug. 30.”
 
Jack Milas, a redshirt freshman quarterback, completed 10-of-26 passes for 144 yards, including a long pass of 71 yards.  Ozzie Mann, a sophomore, completed 7-of-12 passes for 43 yards with a long pass of 11 yards.  True freshman David Morrison, who started school at Ball State in January, completed 3-of-6 passes for 38 yards with a long completion of 26 yards.  Kyle Kamman, a junior for the Cardinals, completed 2-of-8 passes for nine yards.

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PictureZach Lewis is upbeat about 2014.
Story and Photos by MIKE SMITH
If Miami's football RedHawks are going to improve in 2014, there will need to be improvement in a number of areas. Certainly one of the key spots will be along the offensive line. As the RedHawks close in on the final stages of spring practice, senior lineman Zach Lewis believes he and his linemates can, indeed, be part of a solution. 

“We're going to use that as motivation,” Lewis said of a winless 2012 campaign.”We definitely don't want to go through that again. It was just a bad experience.”

Miami, a proud football program that won a MAC championship in 2010 under then-head coach Mike Haywood, struggled to a pair of four-win seasons after Haywood's departure. When record-setting quarterback Zac Dysert left following the 2012 campaign, the situation got worse – a lot worse!

Already unable to run the football effectively (122nd of 124 teams in 2012), the RedHawks turned to a run-oriented attack following Dysert's departure. That experiment eventually raised MU to just 115th last season. Meanwhile, Miami's passing fell from 31st to 119th. Overall, Miami's 2013 offense ranked 122nd of 123 Division 1-A teams in total offense and tied with Florida International for last in points scored (117 total, 9.8 ppg). 

REDHAWKS SEEK BALANCE AND PRODUCTION
With former Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin now at the head coaching helm, the RedHawks are aiming to improve across the board on offense. Martin has repeatedly spoke of the need for a balanced offense. Spring practice is providing the first on-field opportunity to address that goal, and the message is out there.

“We want to be a dual threat team,” Lewis said after Wednesday's practice. “We've got a bunch of quarterbacks, but we also want to work on the run game, too. We want to run and pass. … We want to make sure we can do both.” 


 

MAC MISC …

04/16/2014

 
Headlines:

- Bulls add shooting guard and post player

- Miami adds JUCO forward Khalif Wright

- Offense edged ‘D’ in Green vs. White spring game

- Rockets Ely throws for 220 yards, 2 TDs

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Newly-hired Ohio University men’s basketball coach Saul Phillips was introduced to a contingent of the media, student-athletes administrators and other guests Tuesday. His comments included eight topics and are listed below:

 On His Upbeat Personality
“Ask my wife. It’s funny because I think people have this perception of what I’m going to be like on the sidelines. I’d say it’s like a combination of the Tasmanian Devil and a tornado or something like that, but I’m going to teach, too. I just like what I do and I have an enthusiasm for what I do and I’m not going to hide that. But I’m not doing WWE on the sideline either. I’m not throwing chairs on the court. I’m fine with the refs, so it will be fine. Even after a win or loss or whatever, I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing.”

“When I started out in this profession, all I wanted to be was a head coach somewhere. Now look at me. I’m at a beautiful campus and making quite a bit more than my sister ever thought I’d make, I’ll tell you that much.”

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Mid-American Conference Player of the Year Javon McCrea has been selected to participate in the 2014 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, which will be played from April 16-19.  The four-day, 12-game tournament played in Portsmouth, VA will be attended by representatives from every NBA team. McCrea, who is one of 64 seniors invited to play in the event, becomes the third UB player invited to Portsmouth following Turner Battle and Mitchell Watt.

McCrea was named the MAC Player of the Year and an All-MAC First Team selection for the third straight year.  McCrea averaged 18.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game this season. He was named the MAC East Player of the Week three times this year and he went over the 30-point mark three times, including a career-high 34 points in a senior day victory over Bowling Green.

McCrea became UB's all-time leading scorer earlier in the year and he finished his career with 2,004 points.  McCrea also finished with 988 rebounds.

Over 1,000 former and active NBA players have risen from the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament.