The Miami Hurricanes (2-1) have returned to the Greentree Practice Fields as they await a new opponent this Saturday in the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (2-1).
Miami is coming off a big loss to the Texas A&M Aggies, 17-9, in College Station, Texas just last Saturday.
“We’re very strong-minded in the sense that if you suffer a loss, you don’t get rattled, you don’t throw up your hands, you don’t panic,” Miami head coach Mario Cristobal said. “You stay the course of always trying to get better.”
So far, UM’s offense has been inconsistent. Though Miami scored 70 points against Bethune-Cookman in its opening game, the Hurricanes only scored 10 points through the first half of their game against Southern Miss and amounted only nine points against the Aggies.
Coming into the game against MTSU, sophomore signal-caller Tyler Van Dyke will have his work cut out for him as he attempts to bounce back. The redshirt sophomore threw for no touchdowns last week and only 217 passing yards, the third-lowest total of his collegiate career.
“I’m still confident. Obviously, I’m not throwing for 300 plus yards and a lot of touchdowns every game,” Van Dyke said. “It’s going to come when I just keep trusting the offense and we just keep doing what we have to do in practice.”
Already missing star receiver Xavier Restrepo, UM’s passing attack will also operate without former sophomore wideout Jacolby George, who sustained a thumb injury during the Texas A&M game.
On the ground, Miami has had much less of an issue as Cristobal’s offensive line has been strong at creating gaps for the running backs. The team is averaging 5.1 yards per carry across 127 attempts.
Ole Miss transfer Henry Parrish Jr. is the current leading rusher. He has totaled 302 yards in 53 tries, scoring four touchdowns. Behind him, sophomore Thaddius Franklin Jr. has gained 126 yards and scored three touchdowns.
The Hurricanes’ defense rides into Week 4 with momentum.
“The biggest jump this last week was the secondary. We played much tighter in coverage and guys did a really good job playing man,” Cristobal said.
Miami’s defense has only allowed 12.3 points per game this season. This number ranks Miami 16th in the country.
“Everybody been locked in,” UM defensive end Jahfari Harvey said. “Come in to practice everyday with the right mindset, everybody willing to work, we try to make tomorrow better than yesterday.”
Middle Tennessee State will bring in an Air Raid offense led by head coach Rick Stockstill.
“I’ve known coach Stockstill for a long, long time,” Cristobal said. “He’s recruited some really good football players.”
Led by quarterback Chase Cunningham, the Blue Raiders’ offense is averaging 311.3 yards per game, 10th in the Conference USA. Its passing attack has been less than impressive, totaling 195 yards per game through the air, which also ranks 10th in the conference.
The Raiders are eighth in its conference in scoring with 30 points per game.
Still, MTSU has won their last two games against Colorado State and Tennessee State, putting up 49 points last week.
Defensively, Middle Tennessee has been solid so far. Giving up 23 points per game, the Raiders allowed 44 to James Madison in Week 1 but only gave up 19 and six points in the past two weeks.
Safety Teldrick Ross leads the team with 26 tackles, and defensive end Jordan Ferguson will be a name to watch. Ferguson has 20 tackles so far this season, which ranks second on the team, and his three sacks are tied for first in the C-USA.
“They are disruptive,” Cristobal said. “They have explosive players, very twitchy players up front and they run a really good scheme.”
Saturday’s game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium.