To say ‘Canes football dominated on Saturday afternoon would be a massive understatement. While most Hurricanes fans expected a win in head coach Mario Cristobal’s debut, no one anticipated a 70-13 thumping of Bethune-Cookman at Hard Rock Stadium.
Here are the key takeaways from No. 16 Miami’s season opener.
Tyler Van Dyke is more impressive than you think.
Third-year sophomore quarterback Tyler Van Dyke took college football by storm one season ago, and he picked up right where he left off on Saturday. In 35 minutes of game time, he threw for an impressive 193 yards and two touchdowns.
“[Van Dyke] is a leader of the whole offense,” running back Henry Parrish Jr. said. “He’s a good guy and I’m happy to follow behind him.”
Van Dyke’s accuracy was on full display, as he completed 13-of-16 passes, with two of his misses intentionally thrown out of bounds. Every pass he threw was in the right location and he made the best read possible almost every time.
Van Dyke comes into the season regarded as a Heisman Trophy candidate and performances like the one on Saturday are why.
The running game shined beautifully.
The stats do all the talking. Parrish Jr. rushed for 108 yards and three touchdowns in his Hurricanes debut, while sophomore Thaddius Franklin Jr. ran for 78 yards and two touchdowns. The one-two punch of speed (Parrish) and power (Franklin) was an effective partnership that could get very exciting as the season progresses.
The offensive line paved the way for the running backs’ success by doing an exceptional job at creating initial holes. The guards excelled in getting to, and blocking, the second level of the defense, as well.
“The line of scrimmage was handled very well by the offensive line,” Cristobal said.
While the Hurricanes wait for sophomore running back Jaylan Knighton to return to action, the versatility of Parrish and Franklin could be a significant weapon all season for Hurricanes offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.
The defense did its job but has more to improve on.
The Hurricanes defense had three interceptions in the game, one of which was returned for a touchdown by fifth-year redshirt junior Gilbert Frierson. Although there was no turnover chain to celebrate with, the team and stadium cheered for each of the takeaways.
However, the defense still gave up 13 points to a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team.
The one touchdown Bethune–Cookman scored came from a complete collapse in coverage that allowed senior running back Que’Shaun Byrd to jog into the end zone with no one near him.
The linebackers had lapses in coverage and tackling, allowing the Wildcats to convert multiple third downs from long distances. When playing better opponents, these mistakes will have heavier repercussions.
Key’Shawn Smith was a special teams beast.
It felt like every return third–year sophomore wideout Key’Shawn Smith touched in the game turned to gold. His three returns added up to 184 yards total, including a 72-yard rush that put the Hurricanes in the red zone. His shiftiness and speed will be exciting to see throughout the season.
The Hurricanes will try to get their second win of the season on Sept. 10 against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. Kickoff is at noon at Hard Rock Stadium.