Mark Fletcher debuts as Miami Hurricanes cruise in 2023 opener

Mark Fletcher Miami Hurricanes

Photo by JC Ruiz


Miami, Florida – Freshman rusher Mark Fletcher impressed as the Hurricanes showed Brett Gabbert and the Redhawks where the real Miami is located winning 38-3. A product of American Heritage, Fletcher had nine carries wracking 76 yards notching his first touchdown as a Cane. The ground game was a running back by committee that also included Henry Parrish, Jr., Ajay Allen, and Donald Chaney, Jr. Ball distribution was fairly even. Chaney recorded eight carries while the rest had nine.

Tyler Van Dyke, meanwhile, completed 17 of 22 passes for 201 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Colbie Young was the top wide receiver making four catches for 79 yards and a TD. Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson didn’t show all his cards going with a balanced attack against Miami (OH). The offense churned out 243 yards in the air and 250 yards on the ground totaling 493. Defensively, the Canes dominated using their physicality to their advantage.

After the explosive opening drive, Miami experienced a sluggish first half buoyed by three field goals from Andres Borregales. They finally took control in the third quarter putting the game away.

Shaking off the rust

The Hurricanes got off to a fast start scoring in three plays on their first possession. The effort culminated in Van Dyke connecting with Young for the 44-yard touchdown reception. Conversely, the Redhawks responded with a three-and-out. The U’s three-play 56-yard drive took 1:25 and was the Hurricanes’ fasting scoring drive to start a game since October 24, 2020, against Virginia, according to UM’s Josh White.

Despite the initial strike, the offense sputtered managing nine more points before the half. Van Dyke was picked off on the fourth drive, ambushed by Michael Dowell as he went deep to  Jacolby George.

Miami surged early in the third quarter. Fletcher broke loose, finding a wide-open path to the endzone for the 26-yard touchdown. The Canes went ahead with the two-point conversion attempt as Van Dyke successfully found Xavier Restrepo for the 24-3 lead. If the game’s outcome remained in doubt, Parrish effectively ended the Redhawks’ chances with a 12-yard rushing TD. Even Chaney got into the action managing to score.

Impressions

The win was as impressive as it was expected. There are very few complaints from me. The defense was superb in shutting down the Redhawks. Miami (OH) was an atrocious 2-for-12 on third down and held to just 215 total yards. Gabbert got sacked three times and the unit was rarely caught sleeping tallying six tackles for loss.

On the other side, the O-line kept TVD safe for most of the night. They opened up the lanes letting Fletcher and Parrish do their thing. I really hope to see more of Fletcher in week 2. Young was the top threat though his highlight came really early. I also liked Van Dyke’s deep pass to Restrepo at the end of the third period. By the conclusion of the evening, Miami was four-for-four in the red zone. When it comes to special teams, Andy was absolute money. In fact, he’s the reason the Canes kept on scoring after the first touchdown.

A few things did stand out, however.

The offense couldn’t pull away until the second half and Van Dyke’s outing was fine, but not dominant. They need to clean up on the penalties too. The Hurricanes committed eight including Leonard Taylor’s personal foul which was a stupid lapse in judgment. There were also no takeaways although that’s just nitpicking since the team only gave up three points. UM’s true test comes next week versus Texas A&M and those Aggies are a whole different animal.

Photo | JC Ruiz

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