Miami recorded its first statement win of the Mario Cristobal-era on Saturday, racing past No. 23 Texas A&M, 48-33, in front of a packed crowd at Hard Rock Stadium.
Here are five takeaways from the resounding victory:
Tyler Van Dyke leads explosive Miami passing offense
Van Dyke was electric in Miami’s win, completing 21 of his 30 passes for 374 yards and five touchdowns. His longest pass of the game was a 62-yard rainbow to junior Jacolby George, who broke free from two Texas A&M defenders on his way to his third score of the game.
The fourth-year quarterback’s favorite targets were Xavier Restrepo and Colbie Young, who each had six receptions. Restrepo led all UM pass-catchers with a career-high 126 yards. George totaled 94 yards in addition to his trio of touchdowns, and Young finished with 76 yards and Miami’s first touchdown of the game.
“[Tyler Van Dyke] was outstanding. Credit to him. Credit to the offensive line. Credit to the wide receivers. I mean all those kick returners, they all made plays. He’s been an absolute awesome leader. He had a lot of autonomy going into this game to do things,” Cristobal said. “The matchups, we felt that we had good matchups. We felt that the receiving core has worked really hard and they’ve proven themselves in practice and did a lot of good things in game one and certainly, [Texas A&M] is loaded up in the box, it’s hard to run the ball against them…We had some success, but not much, so the passing game, they were awesome.”
Rollar-coaster performance from special teams
One of the determining factors in Miami’s loss to Texas A&M last season was a poor showing from its special teams unit. Cornerback Tyrique Stevenson muffed a punt on UM’s own 28-yard line. The Aggies scored three plays later, taking a 10-3 lead on the way to an eight-point win.
Similarly, in this year’s meeting, UM’s special teams struggled in the first half. Miami had a punt blocked, and Jacolby George failed to haul in a punt as well. Both mishaps happened deep within Miami’s territory and resulted in a pair of Texas A&M touchdowns. Kicker Andres Borregales also missed a 54-yard field goal.
In the second half, however, that same special teams unit delivered the Hurricanes’ most electrifying play of the game. Junior wide receiver Brashard Smith scored on a 98-yard kickoff return, earning an emphatic encore from the 48,792 reported fans in attendance at Hard Rock Stadium.
Borregales rebounded from his early missed field goal by connecting on 33- and 50-yarders in the third and fourth quarter.
Turnovers spearhead strong defensive showing
Texas A&M trimmed Miami’s lead to one after nailing a 28-yard field goal on its opening drive of the second half. The Hurricanes further extended their lead thanks to Smith’s return as well as the three turnovers generated by their defense.
Preseason All-American safety Kamren Kinchens forced the first of these takeaways. He picked off quarterback Conner Weigman on a pass that was intended for veteran receiver Ainias Smith, who slipped on his route.
Oklahoma transfer Jaden Davis forced the second turnover. On a pivotal third-and-one with 10 seconds left in the third quarter, Davis shot off the line of scrimmage, forcing Aggies running back Amari Daniels to cough up the ball. The Hurricanes retained possession and scored a touchdown four plays later.
Veteran Te’Cory Couch prevented the Aggies from tacking on more points in the final minute of the game, picking off Weigman for the cornerback’s first interception of the season.
New coordinators making a difference
UM hired new play-callers this offseason in defensive coordinator Lance Guidry and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, and their impact was noticeable against the Aggies.
UM’s defensive line, which interior tackle Leonard Taylor III noted in fall camp as more movement-based, wreaked havoc on Texas A&M’s rushing attack, which totaled 97 yards on 29 carries. Guidry also called several well-timed blitzes, causing numerous errant throws.
Miami’s Dawson-led offense excelled in creating chunk plays. The Hurricanes totaled four rushing plays of at least 10 yards and nine passing plays of at least 15, including gains of 48, 52 and 62.
Miami delivered on recruiting opportunity
With a chance to impress a national audience against one of college football’s premier programs, Miami welcomed over 90 high school prospects on Saturday, many of whom are rated by national recruiting services as some of the top players in their respective classes.
The Hurricanes put on a show, not only by coming out with a win but by doing it in front of one of their most impressive crowds in recent years.
Junior safety James Williams, a former highly touted prospect, commented on this win from the perspective of a recruit.
“When I was growing up, the only thing I wanted to see was Miami win, so that’s all they want to see. Everybody wants to come to Miami. They just want Miami to win to come to Miami, so when Miami’s winning, you see nobody wants to deny Miami,” Williams said. “Miami is Miami. Everybody wants to be here.”
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