CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dayonne Nunley will not ease himself back into game action.
The senior Miami University corner, who sat the spring after a knee injury cut short his 2012 season, will test that knee against Marshall, the nation's top passing team last year, when the two teams clash at 7 p.m. Saturday on the CBS Sports Network. Yet the two-time all-Mid-American Conference first-team pick wouldn't have it any other way.
"They're a great offense," Nunley said. "They execute. They throw the ball a lot and we're preparing ourselves for that. They're a great team and this should be a great game."
The RedHawks slid to 104th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense in 2012, but it was the pass defense that kept it from falling any further. Miami ranked 54th in the FBS in average passing yards allowed (226.6 per game) and Nunley, a 5-foot-8, 184-pound Monroeville, Pa., native, led the way. He picked off three passes as a junior and broke up eight more. That came after a sophomore season where he picked off three passes and broke up another 13.
"He's a big-play guy," Miami Coach Don Treadwell said. "He has certain intangibles that the great ones have. You can only coach so much, then you have to have certain instincts that shine on game day, and Dayonne has them."
Nunley's 12 career interceptions put him sixth on Miami's all-time list, four picks behind career leader Ron Carpenter, who serves as the RedHawks' defensive backs coach.
But it's not just on Saturdays when that caliber of play comes out, Treadwell said. Nunley is an on-field leader who makes sure his practice performances mirror his game output.
"He's not just a game-day performer," Treadwell said. "He goes out of his way to make sure, especially at his position and those that surround him, that everybody is locked in on their assignments."