B Page -- Aug. 27, 2010

Case Reserve Football Preview  

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The Sept. 4 contest with local-rival JCU is set for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff and will air on Monday, Sept. 6 at 3:00 p.m. The Oct. 2 matchup versus Allegheny is set for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff and will receive a pair of play dates -- Monday, Oct. 4 at 5:00 a.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 12:00 p.m. The most up to date programming schedule can be viewed online at www.sportstimeohio.com.

SportsTime Ohio, the cable television home of the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns, has the potential to reach 3.4 million households within the STO family of networks and many more via DirecTV and Dish Satellite television.

In addition to the two STO tape delay broadcasts, all five Case Western Reserve home games can be viewed LIVE on the Internet atwww.case.edu/athletics/varsity/broadcast.


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Some of the highlights from his senior year include a 350-yard, three-touchdown game against Cave Spring and a five TD performance in a win over G.W. Danville. 

“Obviously this is a great honor for me to be inducted into my high school hall of fame,” Suggs said. “I am privileged and blessed to have been a part of something special with truly great people.”

A former Virginia Northwest Region and Timeland Offensive Player of the Year, Suggs ended his high school career with 5,056 yards on 646 carriers to go along with 50 touchdowns. 

On the track he was just as explosive, earning all-region and all-state honors. He ran the anchor leg on Fleming's state championship 4x100 relay team that later went on to place fifth at the National Scholastic Outdoor Track Championships in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Upon graduation from Fleming, Suggs attended Virginia Tech University where he set NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision records for most games scoring a touchdown in a single season (14 games in 2002), and most consecutive games scoring a touchdown (27 consecutive games, from Sept. 2, 2000 through Dec. 31, 2002; 57 touchdowns). He was selected in the fourth round of NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns in 2003. 

Suggs is currently in his third season on the Yeomen football staff. Oberlin begins its season September 4 at Kenyon College.

Miami Football Preview  

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"Our secondary was pretty slow," said defensive coordinator Carl "Bull" Reese. "And that's a problem. You can look at all the tape in the world, and at times play well, but all at once, [the opponent] puts up a long ball for a touchdown, and that's not good."

Among those recruits, then, were five cornerbacks and three running backs, as the staff focused on more speed on the perimeter.

Unlike last year, when the Miami coaches had to improvise with what they had, they now have legitimate competition at most spots. In spring ball, a half dozen or more returning starters either moved to different positions or were simply demoted to second team.

In addition, the coaches are hoping that in year two, the players now know the system and what's expected of them.

"No doubt, we made a lot of progress and it showed in spring ball," offensive coordinator Morris Watts said.

"The kids are understanding what we really want, how you practice, and how things are really done."

Maybe the biggest reason for optimism that Miami will improve offensively is the continued development of sophomore Zac Dysert (6-4, 207). Despite getting pounded in 2009 (the RedHawks gave up 58 sacks), Dysert showed some positive signs as a redshirt freshman last season.

Taking over as the starter in Game 4, Dysert proved to be accurate (61.6 percent passing), ran well (258 net yards despite all the sacks), and posted the fourth-best single game passing total in school history with 426 yards against Temple.

Now, the next step is working on his decision-making. And that doesn't just mean cutting down on his 16 interceptions.

"The biggest thing he needed to improve upon is at times, not flushing from the pocket quite so fast," Watts said. "He's so fast and he likes to run. It's a fine line; you don't want to over-coach him to the point he never takes off. I think now he has a better understanding of what we want him to do."

Dysert has become more adept at keeping his eyes downfield and still looking to throw, even if he is forced to roll out under pressure.

"He's not just a runner," Watts said.

In Miami's spring game, Dysert completed 23-of-25 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown.

The likely backup is Austin Boucher (6-1, 209), who was forced to redshirt as a freshman last season when an illness robbed him of strength and workout time just as preseason practices were beginning. Boucher honored his verbal commitment to Miami even after Ohio State offered a scholarship.

Although for now senior Thomas Merriwether (5-10, 214) is holding onto his starting spot, this is one of the positions where Watts thinks the RedHawks have upgraded the most.

Merriwether struggled last season, averaging only 2.8 yards per carry and leading the team with just 291 yards rushing.

"He made some big improvements in the spring," Watts said.

"He's a lot better runner with his eyes now. He ran hard last fall but didn't use his eyes well. He made some cuts that weren't there and missed some cuts that were there, but I think he made some big strides this spring."

In the spring game, Merriwether carried 23 times for 106 yards and a TD.

Two other returning players may be in the mix: sophomores Danny Green (5-10, 203) and Roman Lawson (6-0, 236).

But the excitement this fall likely will be provided by the arrival of three recruits: Orne Bey (5-8, 170), Willie Culpepper (5-9, 175) and Tracy Woods (5-10, 208).

"All three have good speed," Watts said.

Culpepper ran a 10.3-second 100-yard dash in track in San Antonio, Texas.

"He's not a big guy, but we're going to design some things to get him the ball in space," Watts said.

Watts is already talking about getting the freshmen involved in the passing game. The goal is to become less predictable overall, able to do more things out of the same formations.

In spring, the coaches experimented with moving sophomore linebacker Erik Finklea (6-1, 196) to running back. He rushed for a TD in the spring game, but since then, he was moved back to defense.

At fullback, there is promise, as well. Vince Helmuth (6-1, 283), a sophomore transfer from Michigan, brings his massive frame to the position. Watts envisions Helmuth being able to handle H-back duties, becoming a "move" blocker or possibly another receiver out of the backfield.

This is one of the few positions where Miami legitimately looks to be in good shape, with a seven-man playing rotation.

"I'm excited about when we run a three-wide set, now we can play two deep to where we get into the fourth quarter and we shouldn't have anybody run down," Watts said.

The corps starts with the return of the two leading receivers from 2009: seniors Armand Robinson (6-2, 200) and Jamal Rogers (5-11, 172). Robin-son caught 67 passes for 788 yards, including a 10-catch, 118-yard game against Temple, and Rogers had 54 catches for 505 yards.

Watts thinks Robinson will be better off moving inside to a slot position.

Sophomore Andy Cruse (6-4, 213) provides a bigger target and sophomore Lucas Swift (6-2, 175) played as a true freshman last year.

But Watts may be more enthused about three players who saw little or no action for the RedHawks last year: junior Chris Givens (6-2, 211), freshman Nick Harwell (6-1, 180) and junior Demarco Paine (5-10, 166).

Givens started 2009 strong, with 11 catches through two games. But he then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

"He practiced this spring, although he couldn't scrimmage," Watts said. "We feel great about his upside." Harwell is a transfer from the Air Force Academy who Watts said is more quick than fast, with an ability to separate.

And Paine is a former Iowa recruit in 2008 who left the Hawkeyes, played at a junior college last season, and now has two years of eligibility remaining. He ran a 10.4 time in the 100 in high school and is supposedly a deep threat.

"His position coach at Iowa says he'll be our best receiver," Watts said. "We're excited about him coming in." In addition, Watts envisions running backs Bey and Culpepper being used as receivers out of the backfield. Tight end has yielded another pleasant surprise in the offseason development of junior Kendrick Bruton (6-4, 264). He caught one pass last season, and Watts said the staff assumed that sophomore Steve Marck (6-3, 245) would be their starter this year.

"All of a sudden, we started spring ball and it was like, 'Dang, [Bruton is a] new person,' " Watts said. "He had a really outstanding spring practice, blocking and catching. We need to find more ways to get the ball to him."

When a team ranks 119th nationally in rushing and 120th -- dead last -- in sacks allowed, it's no shock that changes are in store for the front line.

First, the Miami staff is making a change at the highest-profile spot, left tackle. Junior Brandon Brooks (6-5, 349) has 24 career starts there, but Watts plans to move Brooks to a guard spot and let redshirt freshman Josh Harvey (6-5, 324) handle the left tackle position.

"We really made a big improvement here with Josh Harvey," Watts said. "He hurt his knee last year, but he's big and can move. We're real excited about his upside."

Seniors Bob Gulley (6-4, 297) and Nate Williams (6-5, 307) are returning starters at left and right guard, respectively. But Watts expects them to be "pushed big time" to keep those spots, with competition coming from Brooks and redshirt freshman John Anevski (6-3, 279).

Of Anevski, Watts said, "he had an outstanding spring for us."

Two of the five returning starters may be relatively safe -- center Brad Bednar (6-4, 283) and right tackle Matt Kennedy (6-5, 258). Both were freshmen last season, Bednar a true freshman and Kennedy a redshirt.

The Miami staff likes Bednar, who got bigger and stronger in the offseason.

Adding to the competition for interior-line playing time is JoJo Williams (6-2, 277), a sophomore converted defensive lineman.

Four incoming freshmen are expected to compete for backup jobs.

Sort of like the offensive line, this unit is getting a serious makeover. Last season, no fewer than 10 different players started in a variety of hodge-podge looks. Only one started more than five games in the same position.

The results weren't pretty: Miami allowed 186.9 rushing yards per game -- 101st nationally -- and recorded only 14 sacks.

So, true to form, the coaches have been blunt about the need to upgrade.

"Both guys we have coming back at end were not good enough," defensive coordinator Carl Reese said. "So if they can play it, say it. That's reality."

He was referring to sophomore Mike Johns (6-4, 282) and junior Matt Kajmowicz (6-4, 256), who combined for 11 starts at end last season but will take a back seat to junior Morris Council (6-2, 267) and redshirt freshman Jason Semmes (6-2, 226).

Council played for the old coaching staff in 2007 and 2008, totaling six sacks, but saw action in only three games last year before a shoulder injury forced him out. He also sat out spring ball.

Semmes is a transfer for Iowa who sat out last year. Reese won't hand Semmes and Council the starting spots outright, "but if they come in and work, I think they're both starters," he said.

Kajmowicz and sophomore Wes Williams (6-3, 240), another part-time starter in 2009, will compete for time at end.

Of Williams, Reese said, "He's truly a guy who can run and drop. Good teams have guys like that at pass rusher."

Reese also likes incoming freshman Mwanza Wamulumba (6-3, 240), who makes up for his lack of size with 4.5 40 speed.

Johns, meanwhile, was moved inside to tackle, but he spent the spring as a backup to junior Jordain Brown (6-0, 296) and sophomore Austin Brown (6-2, 275), whom Reese projects as the starters this fall.

Sophomore Anthony Shoemaker (6-4, 259) was tried at end this spring but will also compete inside. John Steele (6-3, 280) was an early-enrollee freshman who had to sit out spring practice, but Reese thinks he has a bright future at tackle.

Given the overhaul at other spots, it's telling that Miami did not recruit any linebackers this year. For the most part, Reese likes what he has.

It starts with fourth-year junior Jerrell Wedge (5-9, 222), who is a fireplug in the middle. He led the RedHawks in tackles last year with 114, and 18.5 of those were for loss.

"He's physical, a good football player," Reese said. "We can build around him and win some football games with him."

Sophomore C.J. Marck (6-3, 245), a transfer from Connecticut who sat out last year, is Wedge's top backup in the middle. Reese said the RedHawks need to find a way to get him some playing time.

Taking over as the starter on the weak side will be junior Ryan Kennedy (6-1, 227), another fourth-year junior who was forced to redshirt last year after an early-season injury. He has yet to play a full season, participating in 19 games over three years.

"He's a good athlete, good against the pass," Reese said.

Last year, the staff moved senior DeAndre Gilmore (6-1, 236) from strong safety to linebacker, and he ended up starting six games. This season, he starts out as Kennedy's backup at the weak-side spot.

"He was good playing against a lot of the pass-heavy offenses," Reese said. "The run [defense] part continues to improve. We're hoping to get some things out of him."

Sophomore Luke Kelly (6-2, 217) is expected to be the starter on the strong side. He started one game last year and played in all 12 games.

Others who are in the mix to make the two-deep include sophomore Evan Harris (6-0, 222), a starter last year; redshirt freshman Collin Boucher (6-2, 232), the brother of backup quarterback Austin Boucher, sophomore Jaytee Swanson (6-2, 220) and sophomore Austin Moore (6-0, 233).

"I think we've got enough guys without having to add any freshman talent," Reese said.

Incumbency means very little in the secondary, where three of the four positions are likely to be manned by newcomers, even though lots of experienced players return.

Jeff Thompson and senior Brandon Stephens (5-10, 205) were the starting corners last year. Thompson graduated, and Reese has put Stephens on serious notice.

"He made some plays and gave up some plays," Reese said. "We'll see if competition makes him better. We're hoping one of the freshmen beats him out."

No fewer than five players were recruited at corner. Reese said the best of the freshmen may be Demetrius Quarles (5-8, 140), but Trey Payne (5-8, 153), Travis Williams (5-9, 160), Dayonne Nunley (5-8, 161) and Allen Veazie (5-11, 165) all will be given plenty of opportunity for playing time.

"All these kids have track speed, which gives me some encouragement," Reese said. "We're adding speed to the secondary."

One returning player who remains in the mix at corner is sophomore D.J. Brown (6-1, 174). Brown had a good spring, and he could either play nickel corner or safety. Reese thought the team lacked a cover safety last season -- someone who could come down, play in the box and cover a fourth receiver effectively.

The one defensive back whose job is safe is senior free safety Jordan Gafford (6-0, 207), who missed the final four games of last season with an injury. Gafford is the son of a coach. "Like a coach on the field, you can count on him," Reese said.

Junior Anthony Kokal (6-0, 202) started all 12 games at strong safety last year and recorded 105 tackles -- second on the team -- but Reese is throwing that spot wide open, as well.

He mentioned senior Peris Edwards (6-1, 197), sophomore Pat Hinkel (6-1, 200) and redshirt freshman Jordan Padgett (6-1, 197), as well.

Padgett might help at linebacker if he doesn't work out at safety. Miami punted 68 times last year, and neither of the two players who handled those duties is back. Maybe the RedHawks will be better off. They averaged only 36.1 a kick last season, with three blocked. Miami was 118th in the nation in net punting (29.3).

Both Chris Dicesare (the starter for eight games) and Jim Broadway (four games) are gone, even though Broadway was just a third-year sophomore. The coaching staff would not elaborate on what happened to him.Instead, the coaches are expecting redshirt freshman Zach Murphy (6-0, 188) to take over the position.

Head coach Michael Haywood takes the lead role in overseeing special teams, and he has a lot of work to do. The RedHawks struggled in this area last year, as well.

Miami averaged only 15.5 yards on kick returns while giving up 22.1 yards and a touchdown. Miami had a respectable 7.8-yard average on punt returns but allowed 11.1 yards on returns and another TD.

The RedHawks also had two field-goal tries and three punts blocked.

"We're hoping the same injection of speed on defense will help on special teams," Reese said.

Receiver Jamal Rogers is back after leading the team with 22 kickoff returns last year and an 18-yard average. Receiver Lucas Swift averaged only 14.1 on kickoffs, but remains in the mix.

Reese said others who will be looked at here included Armand Robinson, as well as incoming freshman such as running backs Orne Bey and Willie Culpepper.

Senior Trevor Cook (6-2, 197) has one more chance to get back to the form he showed as a freshman, when he made 10-of-13 field-goal attempts. Since then, he is 12-of-22 (55 percent) and has missed four extra-point tries, as well.