RedHawks' Haywood pleased with team's progress Print E-mail
Written by Mike Smith   
Sunday, April 05 2009
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QB Zac Dysert looks downfield / Photo: Mike Smith
OXFORD, OH Miami marked the eighth day of spring football practice Saturday with an intrasquad scrimmage at Yager Stadium. No touchdowns were scored, but the offense moved the ball well at times in the squads first opportunity to perform with assistant coaches moving to the sideline.

Overall, Im satisfied to where we are right now, new Miami head coach Mike Haywood said. There were fewer mental mistakes that I could see on the field Ill have to watch the film to make sure than I expected.

Haywood previously indicated the RedHawks would be moving toward a pro-style offense. Consequently, players have spent part of the winter months learning new terminology and schemes. Its a lot of information for them to process, Haywood said.

Noting the defense had been somewhat ahead of the offense in previous practices sessions, Haywood stated he was somewhat surprised at how well the offense moved the ball in the first series of Saturdays competition. They moved the ball about 60 yards before they were stopped, Haywood said.

Just who will guide the RedHawks in the regular season opener Sept. 5 against Kentucky remains a subject for speculation.

Almost immediately after being hired, Haywood declared all positions open for competition. Among the interesting position battles is the competition for starting quarterback. Senior Daniel Raudabaugh  started most of the RedHawks games in 2008 but was replaced by sophomore Clay Belton late in the campaign. Raudabaugh then returned to the helm when Belton sustained an injury.

Belton took part in some drills Saturday, but due to a high ankle sprain, did not take participate in the scrimmage. Raudabaugh drew the first turn at quarterback Saturday, followed by redshirt freshman Zac Dysert. Mike Scherpenberg, a junior, handled the third shift.

New Miami head coach Mike Haywood
observes practice.
Photo: Mike Smith

Everybody was given an equal opportunity to compete. Well evaluate them see who performed the best, see who was second, (and) who was third, Haywood said. I will say (that) with quarterbacks each and every one of them is getting better every week.

Haywood indicated he also has seen progress in a receiving corps that was inconsistent in 2008. Theyre starting to catch the ball a lot better with their hands, he said.

Among the running backs who saw action Saturday was Thomas Merriweather. The junior led Miami rushers with 547 yards on 140 carries (3.9 ypc) in 2008.

While the offensive and defensive units tested each other in a friendly fire competition, the scrimmage did not include any special teams plays.

Today was a day when we decided we werent going to do any special teams. We were going to focus on offense and defense. However, up until this time, weve had special teams every day, said Haywood, who must find replacements for standouts Jake Richardson (punting) and Nate Parseghian (place kicking).

For the first seven previous practices, we worked on every phase of special teams. Guys are getting better, but we have to work more on our punting game and our placekicking game, Haywood said.

Miami will wrap up its spring practice schedule with the annual Spring Game April 18 at Yager Stadium.

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