Improved defense key to RedHawks' success

Originally Published: November 11, 2003
By Adam Rittenberg | Special to ESPN.com
RedHawks coach Terry Hoeppner is trying not to live in the past this week. Miami (Ohio) has dropped its last five meetings with Marshall and could lose the top spot in the MAC East with a home loss Wednesday. Miami has eight days to recover from last week's emotional win over Bowling Green. The RedHawks have won their last eight games and are the only team unbeaten in league play.

"In our league, every week basically is a playoff game," Hoeppner said. "If you don't win, you don't control your own destiny. That's the key thing for us. It's the biggest game of our week and that's how we approach it. ... This team is different from last year's team." The RedHawks finally earned a spot in the rankings after last week's win, but Hoeppner keeps things in perspective. "It's recognition to the program," he said. "It doesn't get us a first down or a stop on defense, but it serves as motivation and a sense of responsibility."

Miami's defense proved itself to Ben Roethlisberger and the offense back in spring practice. Six months later, the rest of the MAC has taken notice. The RedHawks boast the league's best run defense at 105.4 yards per game. Miami held Bowling Green's Josh Harris to 160 yards and ranks second in average turnover margin at plus 1.11 per game.