Coach: Shane Montgomery (first season) 2004 record: 8-5 (Lost to Iowa State in Independence Bowl) MAC finish: 7-2 (1st East) 2004 I-A offensive rankings: Rushing: 91st (120.1 ypg) Passing: 11th (279.6 ypg) 2004 I-A defensive rankings: Rushing: 29th (123.2 ypg) Passing: 63rd (215.6 ypg)
at Ohio State
at Kent State
at Northern Illinois
at Eastern Michigan
Depth Chart: Offense
8 returning starters in red
Depth Chart: Defense
7 returning starters in red
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The nationally televised pregame promotion of offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery to head coach at the Independence Bowl couldn't keep the RedHawks from ending the 2004 season with a second consecutive loss.
Montgomery replaces Terry Hoeppner, who left for Indiana. The new coach inherits a speedy, experienced team that returns 15 starters from a club that won eight games a year ago. That will help ease the adjustment to a coaching staff that features seven new faces.
Senior quarterback Josh Betts shook off early-season inconsistency last season to pass for 3,495 yards and 23 touchdowns, which placed him 13th nationally in total offense in his first season as starter. Sophomore Mike Kokal and redshirt freshman Jared Elliott are relatively untested backups.
Even with the loss to graduation of record-setting wide receiver Michael Larkin, Betts has a deep corps of experienced receivers to work with. The group is led by senior Martin Nance, who missed the final eight games of last season with a knee injury. Nance set the single-season school record with 1,498 receiving yards in '03. Junior Ryne Robinson also returns after leading Miami with 64 catches and 932 yards last season.
Sophomore Brandon Murphy takes over as the starting tailback. His transition will be eased by the return of four starters on the offensive line, including fourth-year starter Todd Londot at center.
The heart of the defense is its linebacking corps. The two outside linebackers, seniors John Busing and Terna Nande, are in their third season as starters, while senior middle linebacker Derek Rehage is back for a second season in the starting lineup.
Defensive end Marcus Johnson, who led Miami in sacks and tackles for a loss last season, is also returning. Last season, he joined Nande as a first-team all-conference selection.
They will help make up for the loss of strong safety Matt Pusateri, who joined the team as a walk-on and graduated as the school's leader in career solo tackles. Joey Card moves over from free safety, where he made four starts before suffering a hand injury last season.
Second-team all-conference cornerback Darrell Hunter, in his third season as a starter, will replace the graduated Alphonso Hodge as Miami's primary cover corner.
Todd Soderquist takes over the full-time placekicking duties after literally taking turns with Jared Parseghian last season. The senior, who previously handled kickoffs and long field goals, has converted 10-of-14 field goals and 43-of-45 extra points in his career.
Redshirt freshman Jacob Richardson has big shoes to fill in replacing four-year starting punter Mike Wafzig, who averaged 40.8 yards per punt in his career and a career-best 42.2 yards last season.
Montgomery had to hire seven new assistant coaches, though new defensive coordinator Taver Johnson is familiar to some RedHawks. He was linebackers coach before leaving for a job with the Cleveland Browns after the '02 season.
The RedHawks overcame a 2-3 start last season to edge Akron and Marshall and earn a second consecutive East Division championship last season. They ended the year with losses to Toledo in the MAC Championship Game and to Iowa State in the Independence Bowl.
Coach Montgomery should return the RedHawks to their winning ways, but he may have to wait until after the opener at Ohio State to do so.