Miami, Florida – The first test of the nascent season. The Miami Hurricanes lost a close one last year with a chance at revenge versus the Texas A&M Aggies. Both teams are looking to bounce back after finishing a disappointing 5-7 in ’22. Each took care of business in week 1 in their respective tune-ups. Interestingly enough, the No. 23 Aggies ran away with it by halftime over the New Mexico Lobos while UM overcame a slow first half eventually burying the Miami (OH) RedHawks.
Coincidentally, the two programs also acquired new offensive coordinators. Fans didn’t see much of the highly anticipated air raid in week 1. However, Shannon Dawson now has a formidable opponent to reveal it on. Switching from College Station to the Hardrock, if the Canes can pull out the win they’ll be in prime position for a very fast start to the regular season. So who to look at?
Hey fans, you brought the energy last night 🙌
The game against Texas A&M on September 9th is an ORANGE OUT 🟠🏈
— Miami Hurricanes Football (@CanesFootball) September 2, 2023
Conner Weigman (QB)
To fix an underperforming offense, the Aggies went out and got themselves a brand new OC enlisting the help of Bobby Petrino. He formally coached at Louisville, Arkansas, and Western Kentucky as part of a long, accomplished coaching career with the hope of aiding Conner Weigman’s development. The sophomore has tons of talent (and two of the best wideouts in the SEC) putting up an impressive outing versus the Lobos throwing for 236 yards and five touchdowns. He’ll face a tougher secondary this time around.
This didn't count (penalty), but it shows how much Conner Weigman has grown and his overall talent.
Shows great pocket presence/poise when stepping up and running right to avoid the rush. Does it while keeping his eyes downfield.
And what an effing throw. His best of the night. pic.twitter.com/yBqeWmvHeX
— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) September 7, 2023
Evan Stewart (WR)
Speaking of having a top-tier wide receiver corps, Evan Stewart ran rampant on New Mexico. Stewart was the top threat recording eight receptions for 115 yards and two TDs. The Freshman All-American is a danger to any defense and more than capable of making huge plays averaging a smidge over 14 yards a catch. They’ll have him and Ainias Smith to worry about who is back from a leg injury and eager to make up for lost time.
Evan Stewart almost went full Ike Hilliard😳 pic.twitter.com/9HGevrpSXg
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) September 5, 2023
Demani Richardson (DB)
Back in 2022, Texas A&M led the nation in pass defense. One of those key pieces is returning safety Demani Richardson. A starter since the beginning, the senior led the team in tackles last season (73) breaking up five passes and nabbing an interception along the way. Richardson also forced a fumble and recovered two taking both to the house. As you can see, he certainly knows how to tackle, always looking for the big hit.
WHAT A PLAY BY DEMANI RICHARDSON. pic.twitter.com/AUJMi5zd9i
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 10, 2021
Josh DeBerry (DB)
A transfer from Boston College, the fifth-year senior joined the Aggies in search of greener pastures after a very productive stint in the ACC. Josh DeBerry’s debut went great leading the way accumulating 10 tackles, a sack, and an INT for week 1. A physical player, the newcomer also broke up a pass in the endzone showing just how stingy this backfield can be. DeBerry has burst and is able to track the ball making him a big add.
Josh DeBerry was everywhere vs. UNM: 10 tackles, one INT, one sack, one PBU, 1.5 TFLs.
This play miiiiiight have been a DPI. But I still like how DeBerry (6-1, 180) competed vs. a guy who towered over him in DJ Washington (6-5, 219). Got the PBU and did enough to not get a DPI. pic.twitter.com/3Dsngnok7k
— Carter Karels (@CarterKarels) September 7, 2023
Tyler Van Dyke (QB)
Dawson didn’t show too much of the playbook so we didn’t see the introduction of the air raid in week 1. Now that Miami is facing its first true opponent of the schedule it’s time to see Tyler Van Dyke really air it out. Completing 17 of 22 passes for 201 yards, Van Dyke threw his first TD of the year (and interception) as part of a balanced attack versus the Redhawks. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to a defense that is much more likely to pressure him on Saturday.
Michael Dowell, INT Machine — beautiful play to disguise this and speed to get back on this pick of Tyler Van Dyke pic.twitter.com/vL7cx7ir8a
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) September 2, 2023
Mark Fletcher (RB)
We got a preview of the true freshman standout and I have to say, I want to see more. Mark Fletcher, Jr. had a terrific debut getting nine carries producing 76 yards and a touchdown. Despite being a running back by committee, Fletcher made himself known showing the advertised potential. The Aggies serve to build more momentum in solidifying his position within the RB Corps. Henry Parrish Jr. was also great likely to get first dibs but the RB2 should definitely be Fletcher.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) September 2, 2023
Kamren Kinchens (S)
The secondary has a tough assignment for week 2. Although Kamren Kinchens and company did not allow a TD in the season opener, there were no takeaways. Now they’re pitted against the SEC’s top receivers where interceptions (and pass breakups) will be crucial in stopping a potent offense. Keep an eye on Kinchens who will be prowling the backfield.
#Miami safety Kamren Kinchens (5-11, 200)
Traditional centerfield player with fluid hips, excellent roof range, and ball skills. pic.twitter.com/sYa4xKJgYh
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) June 16, 2023
Colbie Young (WR)
Swinging back to the offense, Colbie Young was the top wideout totaling four catches for 79 yards including a 44-yard passing touchdown on the team’s first drive of the year. In spite of having the third most receptions versus the Redhawks, Young showed good stuff on the field. With the unveiling of Dawson’s air raid, we should see a lot more activity from the junior who can no doubt pose a deep threat. He should get plenty of looks from Van Dyke.
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) September 1, 2023
There are three areas to watch in this matchup. The first is the aforementioned takeaways. Miami’s defense was great limiting the opposition scoring-wise but takeaways are a must versus the Aggies. Another aspect is how well will Texas A&M react against the run? UM’s squad of running backs combined for 250 yards to open the season, something of concern for the visiting team considering they performed poorly defending against opposing ground games. Lastly, UM’s offense. Will they have another slow first half or will we see a more consistent attack? The O-line did great protecting Van Dyke although it was to be expected. TVD will be facing pressure and this will be considered a litmus test.
Unfortunately, I don’t see the Hurricanes getting their revenge. Miami has lost 5 straight games versus SEC opponents, the last win was back in 2013 against the Florida Gators. The drought will continue. They’ll come up short 30-24.