QB Ben Roethlisberger

2002 Statistics

Coach: Terry Hoeppner
27-19, 4 years
2002 Record: 7-5
at North Carolina WON 27-21
at Louisiana State LOST 7-33
at Akron WON 48-31
at Cincinnati WON 31-26
at Buffalo WON 49-0
at Toledo WON 27-13
OHIO WON 38-20
at Marshall LOST 34-36
UCF LOST 31-48

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

The Terry Hoeppner era has been maddeningly frustrating for Miami RedHawk fans, as the team has been good enough to consistently hang with or beat solid teams from major conferences and club cellar-dwelling conference foes - but not good enough to beat the MAC's best teams on a regular basis. Behind the strength of a potential All-American quarterback, and with the appearance of a down year for the Marshall Thundering Herd, Oxford is abuzz with the expectations that come along with the promise of potential being realized.

If Miami droops its way to another 7-5 record this year, it will not be the offense's fault. They return seven starters from last year's team that averaged 32 points per game. If the defense can hold itself together enough for the RedHawks to pull off an early-season upset over Iowa or Colorado State, and then start off the MAC season on the right foot, the Ben Roethlisberger-as-the-new-Byron Leftwich bandwagon could get rolling in the national media.

On the defensive side of the ball, Miami boasts one all-conference performer, a decent defensive end, a tackling machine at strong safety, and eight big question marks, not to mention the fact that they will have to break in a new defensive coordinator. The defense will be young, small, and untested - not a recipe for success. New coordinator Pat Narduzzi will have to replace Jon Wauford, who was forced out of his position after an altercation with a Marshall fan following the Herd's victory in November.

The MAC is without a dominant team this year, and the race for the conference title looks as though it will be a battle between not-quite-great teams with electrifying players for the automatic bowl bid that waits at the end of the rainbow for these quality mid-majors.

Projected 2003 record: 8-4
K Jared Parseghian
QB Ben Roethlisberger
LB Terrell Jones
WR Calvin Blackmon
QB - 4 DL - 2.5
RB - 3 LB - 2.5
WR - 2.5 DB - 1.5
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Ben Roethlisberger, 428-271-11, 3238 yds., 22 TD

Rushing: Luke Clemens, 223 att., 1009 yds., 16 TD

Receiving: Michael Larkin, 39 rec., 436 yds., 8 TD

Scoring: Luke Clemens, 17 TD, 102 pts.

Punting: Mike Wafzig, 40 punts, 41.7 avg.

Kicking: Jared Parseghian, 14-14 FG, 44-46 PAT, 86 pts.

Tackles: Matt Pusateri, 124 tot., 85 solo

Sacks: Phil Smith, 5 sacks

Interceptions: Ryan Sprague, 2 for 11 yds.

Kickoff returns: Korey Kirkpatrick, 13 ret., 21.7 avg.

Punt returns: Eddie Tillitz, 28 ret., 7.4 avg.


OFFENSE: Jason Branch-WR, Justin Smith-OT, Randy Stegman-H, Eddie Tillitz-WR
DEFENSE: Milt Bowen-CB, Nathan Clayton-OLB, Matt Edwards-DE, Matt Robillard-OLB, Ryan Terry-DT, Paul Tripp-FS

written by Markus Videnieks

Roethlisberger is a massive (6-5, 242 pounds.), strong-armed and mobile quarterback who draftnicks have already placed on the short list for top QB in the 2004 NFL Draft - should he come out. A junior, he's already thrown for 6,343 yards and 46 touchdowns in his career (3,238 yards, 22 TDs, 11 INT, 63% completions in '02). Offensive Coordinator (and former NC State QB) Shane Montgomery's spread offense is the perfect vehicle for Roethlisberger's versatility. Designed rollouts, screens, and shovel passes keep defenses on their toes and open up the vertical passing game, where Roethlisberger's cannon arm becomes supremely dangerous. He is backed up by sophomore Josh Betts and third-string redshirt freshman Ryan Busing (whose twin John is in the mix to start at OLB).

Senior tailback Luke Clemens has come a long way from being a freshman walk-on. Now a senior, he saw time at free safety and special teams in 2000 before earning time as a backup tailback in 2001, then burst upon the scene last year. Starting from day one, he was an afterthought to defenses determined on slowing down the RedHawk passing attack. Staying under everyone's radar, Clemens rushed for 1,009 yards and 16 touchdowns, at 4.5 yards per carry. He also proved to be a great safety valve for Roethlisberger, hauling in 27 receptions for 334 yards and a touchdown.

Joining him in the backfield again this season will be senior Cal Murray, more of a speed-back, who ran for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Murray's father, Calvin, starred at Ohio State and played briefly in the NFL. Fullback isn't much of a priority in the spread offense, but when the RedHawks use one, they have a rock in 6-2, 263-pound Andy Capper.

Many teams would be crippled by the loss of their two starting wide receivers. The nature of Miami's spread offense is so balanced and the depth on the edges is so strong though, that Roethlisberger has reliable, experienced hands ready to take over this year. Jason Branch (40 receptions, 505 yards, 7 TDs) and Eddie Tillitz (31-358-2) will be replaced by a group that includes junior Mike Larkin (Barry Larkin's cousin), senior Korey Kirkpatrick, junior Andre Henderson, and sophomore Martin Nance, among others. Larkin (39-436-8) is the leading returning receiver, and has sprinter's speed as well as a reputation for being fearless over the middle. Kirkpatrick averaged 14.4 yards per catch as a junior WR/KR, while Purdue-transfer Henderson and Nance (6-4, 210, sub-4.5 40) played supporting roles last season.

Many spread offenses ignore the tight end, but not Miami. Canadian TE Matt Brandt (6-5, 248) pulled in 33 passes for 348 yards and a touchdown. It's unlikely that any one member of the receiving corps will step up and have a dominating season, but the speed, versatility, and experience they collectively bring to the table could make the Roethlisberger experience difficult for defenses.

Senior tackles Jacob Bell and Ben Herrell anchor Miami's offensive line. Bell, a 6-5 four-year starter, and Herrell, a 6-7, 316-pounder have the long arms and footwork to keep defensive ends out of Roethlisberger's face. Senior left guard Frank Smith has three years of starting duty under his belt, and will tandem with Herrell to make the left side Clemens' favorite place to run. At center, 6-7, 284-pound redshirt sophomore center Todd Londot returns for his second year calling the shots on the line, and to his right, classmate Nate Bunce is expected to win the starting job.

Mobility is key in Montgomery's offense, with various rolling pockets, screens, and shovel passes -- and that is reflected in the size of the linemen. Though on average, the projected starters are almost 6-6, only Harrell weighs more than 300 pounds. The future of Miami's line looks strong, as the second team is littered with similarly-built sophomores who should be ready to step in alongside Londot and Bunce next season.


TB Luke Clemens


Returning Starters in bold
QB Ben Roethlisberger-Jr Josh Betts-So
TB Luke Clemens-Sr Cal Murray-Sr
WR Korey Kirkpatrick-Sr Martin Nance-So
WR Mike Larkin-Jr R.J. Corbin-Fr
WR Andre Henderson-Jr Mike Iriti-Jr
TE Matt Brandt-Sr Geoff Robinson-Sr
OT Ben Herrell-Sr Mark Kracium-So
OG Frank Smith-Sr Dan Kosta-Sr
C Todd Londot-So Joe Serina-Sr
OG Nate Bunce-So Chris Fessel-So
OT Jacob Bell-Sr Ryan Meyer-So
K Jared Parseghian-Jr Todd Soderquist-So



written by Markus Videnieks

Phil Smith leads the inexperienced RedHawk defensive line. He is a converted linebacker who had a successful season last year at defensive end. He finished with five sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 51 total tackles. He'll be flanked on the right side by sophomore Jarrod Rich, who had all of seven tackles.

The situation at defensive tackle is not much more promising, as junior Larry Burt, he of 19 tackles will be counted on to throw his 299 pounds into the backfield frequently enough to free up all-MAC MLB Terrell Jones. The other DT position is somewhat unsettled, though it appears as if 5-11, 269-pound sophomore John Galvin will be responsible for playing bigger than his size if this defense is to stop the run. Considering the rawness of the starting group, expect Miami to experiment with multiple combinations up front, particularly early in the season. Younger players, like 6-4 264-pound sophomore DE Mike Barz will have the chance to step up and earn significant playing time.

The smallish Jones has left a battlefield of tackled running backs in his wake during his tenure in Oxford. Though he's just 5-9, 218 pounds, Jones uses his smarts to find backs inside the tackles, and his speed to get them when they go outside. He'll be joined at linebacker by speedy sophomore Terna Nande, who had 49 tackles and two sacks as a freshman. At LOLB sophomore Busing will be in the mix for the starting position, along with David Hutzelman and freshman Dontae Wright. Also in the rotation will be sophomore linebacker Matt Cohen, younger brother of former MAC Defensive Player of the Year Dustin Cohen.

The secondary is anchored by yet another walk-on turned standout in junior strong safety Matt Pusateri. The junior led the team with 125 tackles, and also broke up nine passes. He will be counted on to help out against the run, which will leave the slowish defensive backs vulnerable to deep balls. Senior cornerback Ryan Sprague had two interceptions and 71 tackles in his starting role last season. His partner on the other side will be Alphonso Hodge, a hard-hitting CB who has experience in nickel and dime packages. The free safety position is up in the air, as underclassmen Steve Burke (sophomore) and Joey Card (freshman) are likely to split time ball-hawking. It's still unclear who the nickel and dime backs will be - but they certainly will be young and inexperienced - just like most of the defense.


LB Terrell Jones


Returning Starters in bold
DE Phil Smith-Sr Mike Barz-So
DT Will Rueff-Jr John Glavin-So
DT Larry Burt-Jr Marcus Johnson-So
DE Jarrod Rich-So Will Stanley-Sr
OLB John Busing-So David Hutzelman-So
MLB Terrell Jones-Sr Matt Vogele-Fr
OLB Terna Nande-So Matt Cohen-So
CB Darrell Hunter-So Ryan Sprague-Sr
CB Alphonso Hodge-Jr Ryan Redd-So
SS Matt Pusateri-Jr Bryan Tyson-So
FS Steve Burke-So Joey Card-Fr
P Mike Wafzig-Jr Ben Roethlisberger-Jr




At kicker, Miami boasts a guy who was 14-for-14 last season (none from beyond 41 yards though) and is related to a famous coach. Jared Parseghian has proven that he is one of the top kickers in the MAC, but still needs to work on his leg strength. As for punter, the RedHawks' best punter is their All-American quarterback. Though regular punter Mike Wafzig averaged a decent 41.7 yards per punt, it was Roethlisberger who averaged 43.8 yards on 11 punts, nine of which ended up inside the opponents' 20 yard line.


Converted LB Derek Rehage led all rushers in the spring game with 109 yards on 12 carries. Coaches started him out at LB in the beginning of the spring, but with Terrell Jones playing so well, they wanted to use him on opposite sides of the ball. He has succeeded at both and though it appears he might be more suited for offense, the switch has not been finalized… WR Martin Nance is expected to emerge as a playmaker for the RedHawks this season. Coaches like his newfound confidence and need him to carry that through the season to become their top offensive (outside) threat. Fellow pass-catcher Calvin Blackmon surpassed expectations this spring and should figure a competitive player in the receiver rotation. The RedHawks were working a good amount this spring with their reserves, as the top three starters sustained injuries for a good portion of practice… The offense will utilize some positions and formations (at times) they went without last year, namely the more frequent inclusion of a fullback. This is to confuse a defense and create more of a balanced attack with the run game to counter such an aggressive passing scheme… Hoeppner does not feel the depth on the O-line is where it needs to be just yet. Something to certain to be tuned up in the fall.

Defense stepped up this spring, leading the way in the spring game. LB Terrell Jones turned in the best performance, with 12 tackles and a sack. He will be the prize of this crew and will be counting on the pick-up of his cohorts around him to further highlight his talents… DE Phil Smith has stepped up his play, giving the defensive line a leader to model their play after. Coaches have been raving about his play this off-season, expecting to see his name on All-MAC honor sheets at the end of the year… David Hutzelman and John Busing displayed some heavy competition at OLB this spring, with Hutzelman having the better spring game. These two will continue to battle into the fall, but Hutzelman seems to have the inside track. The entire LB group as a whole has made significant progress and appears to have laid a good foundation for fall practice. The key is for them to continue to get bigger, stronger and faster throughout the summer and fall… The biggest marks of improvement came in the secondary, where Alphonso Hodge and Darrell Hunter established themselves on the corners. Both are very fast have the potential to be all-conference material as early as this year.

Jared Parseghian continued his All-MAC type placements this spring and will enter the season as a Groza nominee. Mike Larkin worked as the PR this spring, with Darrell Hunter and Martin Nance should also teaming with Larkin on kick returns.

Miami's Yager Stadium is having (the ever-popular) FieldTurf installed this summer and will be ready for use this season. The RedHawks will break it in during their September 27th battle for the annual Victory Bell Trophy against Cincinnati. The contest will mark the 105th meeting between the two schools, standing in a tie for fifth all-time in terms of most games played between two teams.