MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – This season for the Miami Hurricanes was about re-instituting a winning culture led by the players and shown through energetic plays on the field.
The Hurricanes are already getting what they worked for.
Tyler Van Dyke threw a career-high five touchdown passes Saturday, Brashard Smith returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score and Miami overcame a slow start to defeat No. 23 Texas A&M 48-33.
Smith caught a kick near Miami’s end zone and burst forward, untouched, for the Hurricanes’ longest score of the young year. He celebrated only briefly on the sideline, then scampered back onto the field for kickoff coverage.
The play gave the Hurricanes an eight-point lead in the third quarter, and they built on that. It was a stark turnaround after Texas A&M jumped out to a 10-point first-quarter lead.
“Players are stepping up,” said receiver Xavier Restrepo, who had six catches for 126 yards. “Last year, it felt like the coaches had more energy than the players. This year, we all sat down the first day of spring training camp and were like, ‘This is our team, not the coaches’ team.’”
Van Dyke had two touchdown passes of 3 yards, as well as 52-, 11- and 64-yard scores. He finished with 374 yards passing to bring his season total to 575 — an impressive start after he struggled last year.
“I feel accuracy-wise, I’m the best I’ve ever been,” said Van Dyke, who was 21 of 30 with no interceptions. “Seeing the defense, I’m the best I’ve ever been. I’m seeing really well right now, and the confidence is a big thing there.”
Aggies quarterback Conner Weigman had 336 yards passing, including a 9-yard TD pass on fourth down to Noah Thomas that brought the Aggies within eight points with five minutes. On the next drive, Miami’s Jacolby George caught a 64-yard touchdown pass — his third score of the day.
Weigman threw his first collegiate interception when safety Kamren Kinchens caught a pass intended for Ainias Smith in the third.
Kinchens was later carted off the field and taken to the hospital after a scary hit. Miami coach Mario Cristobal said he thinks Kinchens will be OK.
The Hurricanes lost to Texas A&M 17-9 a year ago in a down 5-7 season.
In Cristobal’s second year, Miami (2-0) now has new offensive and defensive coordinators and a revamped offensive line after that unit was among their biggest weaknesses last season. The result has been a 250-yard rushing performance in a commanding 38-3 win over Miami (Ohio) in its opener and an impressive comeback win in the first real test of 2023.
“I felt like I could’ve went to sleep and woke up and still run my route with the O-line,” Restrepo said.
Miami ran into a massive wall in the Aggies defensive line, which features multiple five-star recruits. Texas A&M (1-1) limited Miami to 77 yards rushing and 3.2 yards per rush. The Hurricanes made up for it in the passing game, as their receivers broke free for 241 yards after the catch.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Colbie Young hauled in six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown.
The Aggies, led by sixth-year head coach Jimbo Fisher and new offensive coordinator and play-caller Bobby Petrino totaled 433 yards, but gave up 451.
“We made plays in all three phases,” Fisher said. “But we gave plays up in all three phases.”
Special teams jumpstarted the Aggies’ offense early.
Texas A&M’s first drive of the game started at Miami’s 15 after a blocked punt, and Weigman strutted into the endzone from the 1 to cap a three-play, 57-second drive that gave the Aggies a 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the Aggies recovered a muffed punt by George, which led to a 9-yard rushing touchdown by Amari Daniels, making it 17-7.
George made up for it when he caught the go-ahead touchdown that made it 21-17 just before halftime.
Aggies receiver Evan Stewart had 11 catches for 142 yards.
Lightning in the area delayed the start of the game by about 30 minutes.
A RARE VISIT
Texas A&M is the second SEC opponent to ever face the Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium, and first since the Florida Gators visited in 2013. Miami won that game 21-16.
Texas A&M: After a strong first quarter, the Aggies came undone with a missed field goal, interception and fumble in the latter three quarters — all momentum-killing plays on the road.
Miami: With a dominant win in their season opener and a statement win over a ranked opponent, Miami is showing that it is vastly improved from last year’s team.
Texas A&M is at risk of tumbling out of the AP Top 25 after the loss.
Texas A&M: Hosts Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.
Miami: Hosts Bethune-Cookman on Thursday.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll