What to expect in Miami’s test against Texas A&M

Fourth-year junior running back Henry Parrish, Jr. dives into the endzone in the fourth quarter of Miami’s game against Miami University (OH) at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 1, 2023. Photo credit: Alexandra Fisher

The new-look ‘Canes wasted no time in Week 1, routing Miami (Ohio) 38-3. They welcome a much more challenging test this Saturday.

Only the second time an SEC team will play at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami and No. 23 Texas A&M are set to kick off at 3:30 p.m. in a much-anticipated rematch of last year’s game.

“Really impressive team, lots of good players coming off of a really big performance Saturday, [we’re] looking forward to the opportunity,” Miami head coach Mario Cristobal said regarding Texas A&M as he opened his Monday press conference.

Miami had a lot of question marks heading into the season, most notably the newest hirings of offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and defensive coordinator Lance Guidry, but some of these questions were answered during the season-opening victory.

Both sides of the ball looked on point early. The defense came out with a fire, refusing to let Miami (Ohio) run the ball. Miami’s offense showed big-play potential, running the ball for 250 yards. Also to note, Miami appeared to make fewer mental mistakes compared to last season.

Miami has momentum heading into its second game against a talented Aggies team.

Texas A&M finished last season a disappointing seventh in the SEC West, but head coach Jimbo Fisher has added reinforcements to the program. Texas A&M brings in top-end talent year after year through recruiting and the transfer portal, and it also added new coaching personnel.

Longtime college football coach Bobby Petrino was hired as the Aggies’ offensive coordinator this offseason and has impressed so far.

Last season, Texas A&M’s highest point total was 38. In the offense’s first game, led by Petrino, the Aggies scored 52 points against New Mexico.

“He’s experienced, he’s been to a lot of places and seen a lot of things. He’s evolved as a play-caller over the years, he’s not stuck in his way,” Miami defensive coordinator Lance Guidry said regarding Bobby Petrino. “He does a good job of putting guys in spots to make plays.”

Petrino’s new weapons shined brightly in their first outing, led by quarterback Connor Weigman. The sophomore threw five touchdowns and only five incompletions. Noah Thomas, a 6-foot-6 wideout who causes a lot of attention on the outside, caught three of these touchdowns. Former highly touted recruit Evan Stewert caught the other two touchdowns and added 115 receiving yards. The sophomore speedster will be a focus of the Hurricanes’ defense this week.

Miami’s defensive backs will be challenged, but the defensive line looks as hungry as ever and may be able to lessen the blow. Last week, Miami (Ohio) tailed just 51 yards on 25 carries and finished 2-of-12 on third downs. Guidry consistently brought pressure throughout the game, specifically on third down. Expect Miami to bring the heat on the Aggies in order to force Weignman to make quick decisions.

Miami ran for 6.9 yards per carry last week, which was in big thanks to the offensive line, but that group will certainly have their hands full this week. Texas A&M is big and physical up front and will provide a challenge for Miami’s running and passing attack.

“Their explosive players are thick and powerful, but they are also athletes where they can counter, they can get themselves out of tough positions,” Cristobal said about Texas A&M’s defensive line.

Miami has talented skill players, and quarterback Tyler Van Dyke will be expected to step up in the pocket and get the ball to his playmakers throughout the game.

Look out for a hard-fought battle on Saturday, as both of these teams appear to be much improved from last year. Hard Rock Stadium will be a packed house with a lot of excitement for Miami’s first big-time showdown of the season.