Hurricanes drop season opener to Tigers

Photo credit: Josh White

Miami’s 2018 campaign kicked off the same way it finished a season ago.

Despite the No. 8 Hurricanes entering AT&T Stadium with their highest preseason ranking since 2004, Miami looked more like the team that ended last year on a three game losing skid.

From the get go, the No. 25 LSU Tigers controlled the Hurricanes in every facet of the game, well on their way to a 33-17 victory in the Advocare Classic in Arlington, Texas.

“We certainly had some things go well and some things not so well,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “A lot of self-inflicted wounds, not to take away from anything LSU did because they beat us soundly.”

Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier, who set a single-season Miami touchdown record with 31 combined scores in 2017, finished just 15-of-35 and threw two interceptions.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes defense couldn’t slow down the LSU offense.

Tigers running back Nick Brossette rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns, including a 50-yard scoring run in the closing minute of the first quarter to put LSU up 10-3.

“You could just feel the energy sucked out of our sideline and that’s something coach Richt preaches about, adversity is going to hit in every game,” Rosier said.

The Tigers would strike again on their ensuing possession.

Brossette found open space in the Miami defense, scoring from just outside the end zone that extended the LSU lead to 17-3 with 9:21 remaining in the second quarter.

Rosier and the Hurricanes offense continued to struggle.

Two drives later, Rosier’s pass landed in the arms of Tigers linebacker Jacob Phillips, who returned it 45 yards for a touchdown to make it 27-3 LSU heading into the intermission.

Through the first half, Miami was 0-for-6 on third-down conversations and had eight penalties for 75 yards.

“I felt like we didn’t respond very well at first,” Rosier said. “And by the third, fourth quarter, it was just too late to respond. That’s something we have got to get better at. We have a long season ahead of us. We have a lot of great opponents. We still have a chance to win the ACC Coastal and ACC championship game. That’s our goal right now. This whole game was a huge learning experience for us.”

The Hurricanes wouldn’t find the end zone until the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Rosier put the finishing touches on an 11-yard, 77-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run with 13:57 left in the contest.

The following UM drive ended with another touchdown when Rosier connected with highly-touted freshman Brian Hightower for a 32-yard pass.

But it was too late.

Miami only managed 83 yards on the ground and failed to force a turnover, despite outgaining LSU, 342-296, in total offense.

Wide receiver Jeff Thomas was one of the lone bright spots for UM. The sophomore hauled in five receptions for a career-high 132 yards, including a couple of highlight-reel worthy catches.

Next, the Hurricanes host Savannah State 6 p.m. Sept. 8 at Hard Rock Stadium.

“It’s a long season ahead of us,” senior safety Jaquan Johnson said. “We have several games left with this season and we look forward to each and every one of them. We aren’t going to prepare no differently. We’re going to do the same preparation and go out and try to dominate the next opponent.”