September 22, 2009

RedHawks eager for victory

By the time Mike Haywood accepted the head coaching job at Miami, it was too late to adjust the RedHawks' schedule for the 2009 season. Not that the former Notre Dame assistant coach would have done that even if he had the chance, but opening against a Southeastern Conference opponent followed up by a game at Boise State sure can make it tough on a first-time head coach.

The RedHawks lost both games by a combined score of 90-0.

"(The players) understand that we don't even make reference to the schedule," Haywood said. "There's going to come a point in time in which we welcome all teams. However, at this point they understand the methodical way in which we're going about our business."

Last week, they lost to Western Michigan, 48-26, to start the year 0-3. The Broncos are considered one of the favorites to win the Mid-American Conference West Division.

But, Haywood saw something out of his team during Saturday's loss at Western. Not only did the team score its first points of the 2009 season in the third quarter, they continued to play hard, even when down by four touchdowns.

"The thing that you notice, that they bought in, is that you realize how hard they play when we're 28 points down in the third and fourth quarter," Haywood said. "That's when they realize that, 'hey they're starting to put this together and it's a process and we'll get there.' It's just a matter of time before we get there."

The RedHawks outscored the Broncos, 26-20, in the second half. They hope to ride that momentum into Kent on Saturday where they'll face the Golden Flashes in the MAC East opener for both teams.

"I think that they're pretty excited about getting into the conference," Haywood said. "The players really got that psychological monkey off their back in finally scoring; it seemed like they became a lot more relaxed once they scored the first touchdown. I thought they executed a little bit better and had a little bit more confidence. We have to build upon that confidence as we go into Kent and really looking forward to that opportunity."

Even with the Golden Flashes struggling, mentally and physically, Haywood sees a challenge for his RedHawks.

"I think Kent, when you look at their offense, their offensive line is a really good offensive line; guys that have really good feet, really stay on the second level defenders well," Haywood said. "They do a nice job of running the football although their starter is out at tailback. The back up, (Andre Flowers) does a really good job of running the football and runs with great vision. We're looking for them to run the football and also throw the ball down the field."

After watching film of the Golden Flashes in action, Haywood is impressed by the Flashes' team speed.

"Defensively, they do a really nice job on defense. They really get after you," he said. "Surprising enough they have more speed on their team than I thought they did when I watched the tape last night. When you are watching their special teams, especially if you watch their punt team, you really don't think anyone with a tight punt configuration can really cover that well but they really cover well and get down and do a really good job."

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