A new era of Miami football has officially begun.
When first–year head coach Mario Cristobal, a Miami native and University of Miami alumnus, took to the sidelines on Saturday afternoon, all the disappointment and misery that had defined the Hurricanes for much of the 21st century seemed to go away.
Over 56,000 fans erupted when the ‘Canes ran onto the field at Hard Rock Stadium, ready to witness history. By the end of the game, the No. 16 Miami Hurricanes had given Cristobal his first win as head coach, pummeling Bethune-Cookman, 70-13, to open the 2022 season.
“The goal was to be 1-0 by 7:15 tonight and that was achieved,” Cristobal said. “There were a lot of bright spots. Certainly, things showed up in a positive way in terms of physicality and conditioning and execution, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.”
The Wildcats had ‘Canes fans sweating when they opened the game with a 29-yard field goal after converting on third-and-23 to take an early lead.
But from there, it was all Miami.
The Hurricanes offense fired on all cylinders throughout, scoring touchdowns on 10 of 12 possessions. Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis’ run-heavy scheme was on full display, as Miami’s rushing attack registered 305 yards and a modern-day record seven touchdowns. Running back Henry Parrish Jr. had three of them.
“The offensive line took control of the line of scrimmage and the [running] backs ran hard,” Cristobal said.
The defense forced three turnovers, including a diving interception by safety Kamren Kinchens and a pick–six that redshirt junior Gilbert Frierson took 31 yards down the sideline. However, defenders struggled at times and were often caught flat-footed on quarterback scrambles.
UM’s first drive began with a 70-yard kickoff return from sophomore receiver Key’Shawn Smith, and running back Thaddius Franklin Jr. finished it under two minutes later, rushing four yards into the end zone.
Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke completed his first pass on the next drive, a seven-yard throw to Parrish Jr., whose five-yard run put Miami up 14-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Van Dyke then threw his first touchdown pass with just over four minutes remaining in the first half, lofting a 16-yard throw to receiver Xavier Restrepo, who had a career-high 100 receiving yards, in the corner of the end zone.
“I thought it was a good day,” Van Dyke said. “I gotta give credit to the receivers who didn’t drop any balls.”
Miami took a 42-10 lead into halftime.
Backup quarterbacks Jake Garcia and Jacurri Brown, along with other bench players, each received playing time in the second half, as the Hurricanes continued to pile it on, outscoring the Wildcats 28-3 in the final 30 minutes.
After Manny Diaz disappointed in his three years at the helm of ‘Canes football, the university finally proved it was willing to spend big on athletics in December with the hiring of Mario Cristobal to a 10-year, $80 million contract.
The additions of Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich and Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, among others, soon after only added to the excitement in Coral Gables, which was readily apparent during Saturday’s season opener.
Parking lots were packed, seats were filled and there was no shortage of fans throwing up ‘the U.’
The ‘Canes return to Hard Rock Stadium next week when they face Southern Miss on Sept. 10. Kickoff is at noon.