Team preview: Miami (Ohio)

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(All information as of July 1, 2006)


For most college football programs, seven wins and a share of a division title would be considered a very successful season.
Not at Miami.

Sure, the RedHawks were happy to extend their streak of winning seasons to 12 and Shane Montgomery's seven wins were the fourth most among first year coaches in Division I-A last season, but more has come to be expected in Oxford.

Miami was a senior-laden team that was expected to challenge for the MAC East last season, but if you predicted that the division winner would have had three conference losses, then a trip to Vegas should be in the offing.

But injuries, tough road losses at crossover opponents Central Michigan and Northern Illinois and a crushing home defeat, 42-14 to rival Bowling Green, prevented Miami from making its third straight bowl appearance.

The RedHawks enter this season with more questions than they have had in recent years, but having to replace 19 seniors (including eight All-MAC selections) does that to a program. This, however, is not a rebuilding year. Miami expects to challenge for division titles and bowl berths each season, and should be in the mix in 2006 despite the fact that anywhere between five and 10 freshmen could see the field.

"It's important for us to see how fast these young guys grow up," Montgomery said. "I like where we are talent-wise, it's just a matter of seeing what we can do on the field."
One of Montgomery's biggest decisions will be at quarterback, where the RedHawks must find a replacement for Josh Betts, Ben Roethlisberger's replacement.

The "open" competition between junior Mike Kokal, sophomore Jared Elliott and redshirt freshman Daniel Raudabaugh will continue into fall camp and Montgomery hopes to settle on a starter a couple of weeks before the Aug. 31 opener against Northwestern.