Miami Hurricanes run through the smoke as the Mario Cristobal era begins
MIAMI GARDENS – After all the talk, buildup, and excitement surrounding the hiring of Mario Cristobal as head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, his era officially kicked off in front of a nice crowd at Hard Rock Stadium today. For the Canes, their opponent was the overmatched FCS squad Bethune-Cookman. For the Wildcats, it was a long, hot afternoon. Bethune started the game with a 5-yard false start penalty and quite honestly, it didn’t really improve a whole lot as they lost 70-13.
One of the few highlights for the Wildcats occurred early when they converted a 3rd and 24 on their opening drive which immediately gave many Hurricanes fans bitter flashbacks to the Manny Diaz era. The Wildcats would end up cashing in on that play with a 29-yard field goal for an early 3-0 lead. From there, the Miami Hurricanes offense imposed their will as new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis pounded the run all day long.
While the offense was cruising for much of the game, the defense under new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, had some concerning moments. The most glaring? The lack of pressure they were able to generate against Bethune-Cookman’s offensive line. The Hurricanes defense didn’t get their first sack until 1:57 left in the first half as Wildcats QB Jalon Jones didn’t really see much pressure. While the turnover chain is gone, the defense still got theirs as Kam Kinchens, James Williams and Gilbert Frierson all recorded interceptions.
The Miami offense showed off a deliberate running game. The offensive line which has been a project over the last few years finally seems to be coming together under this new staff. Transfer Henry Parrish Jr. and sophomore Thaddius Franklin Jr. had their way as they combined for 129 yards on 16 carries and four touchdowns in the first half. For the game, the duo combined for 187 on 23 carries and five scores.
After concerns about the wide receiver room, Xavier Restrepo stepped up as expected and led the way with five catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. His 55-yard first half reception was the long for the game. In all, 10 Hurricanes had at least one catch as both Tyler Van Dyke and later, Jake Garcia, were both exceptionally efficient. Miami QB’s combined to go 20/23 for 280 and two touchdowns and no interceptions. All in all, it was a very good performance for the Miami Hurricanes. Of course, there were enough issues where if you want, you’ll have plenty to complain about to your friends for the next week. Next up for the 1-0 Hurricanes, Southern Miss at the Rock this Saturday.