Miami Hurricanes run through the smoke as the Mario Cristobal era begins
MIAMI GARDENS – It was the second game of the Mario Cristobal era at Hard Rock stadium today as the Hurricanes welcomed the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. Miami won 30 – 7 but the performance had plenty of fans voicing their displeasure throughout the first half. The Canes did make the necessary adjustments at the break which was a pleasant change from the past few seasons, but there were still plenty of issues for Canes fans to find consternation with. That was proven when Mario heard boo birds for the first time when the Canes fell behind 7-3 and looked anemic.
Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis came out and again showed his dedication to a power running attack. Henry Parrish got the start but fans saw the whole stable contribute as Thaddius Franklin Jr. was joined by Jaylan Knighton in his season debut. While the running game was working, Tyler Van Dyke had a rough first half as he was off target from the start. It can easy to forget this was only the 11th start of his Miami career. He finished the first half with 141 yards passing while completing 12 of 19 for one interception and no touchdowns.
Miami went into the half with a 10-7 lead thanks to a final drive that went for 86 yards over 10 plays and culminated in a one-yard touchdown run by Henry Parrish Jr. It was the first time in the game that the Canes offense was able to get any real momentum going as Van Dyke finished the half going 5 for 5. Going into the tunnel, Mario Cristobal told the WQAM sideline reporter that Miami had to “stop the BS and just get to work.” As the team came out for the second half, it was immediately clear the message had been received.
Defensively, the Canes did not look very good in the first half. As a whole, they continued to give up too many chunk plays. They also continued a trend of making first-time starting quarterbacks look like early season Heisman contenders as freshman Zach Wilcke had little trouble getting big completions against the Miami secondary. Those that felt that new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was going to have his work cut out for him with this roster seem to have a point. This defense is still primarily made up of players that have shown deficiencies over the last few years.
The Hurricanes were a different team in the second half. The defense came out and was finally able to get some consistent pressure while TVD went on a hot streak. From the last drive in the first half to into the second, he completed 11 straight passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a beautifully executed flea flicker that resulted in a 35-yard pass to Key’Shawn Smith. Miami’s first drive of the third quarter was all about dominating with the run as Henry Parrish and Thad Franklin combined for 60 yards on 10 carries that had to have Assistant Head Coach Alex Mirabal thrilled.
The Hurricanes added a fourth quarter field goal by Andy Borregales that should’ve been a touchdown if not for center Jakai Clark getting penalized for showing too much effort on a block. Defensively, Kevin Steele’s men showed up. Leonard Taylor was a force the and cornerbacks had some nice pass breakups as well as an interception from Tyrique Stevenson. The INT probably should’ve gone for a pick-6 but the line judge decided to blow the whistle despite him never being down. More proof that the officials of the Atlantic Coast Conference are the best! In all this was a tale of two halves. Canes fans will be hoping they start games like they did the first half moving forward.
The Hurricanes will travel to College Station for a primetime matchup against Texas A&M at Kyle Field on Saturday at 9p ET. Join the OBB Legend crew for a live watch party at the Tank Brewing Co. in Miami. Festivities begin at 7p!