MIAMI GARDENS — The No. 22 Hurricanes cruised to their third straight win to begin the season, blowing out Bethune-Cookman 48-7 at Hard Rock Stadium on Thursday night.
Although Miami was facing an overmatched opponent, there was still plenty to be gained from the victory.
Here are 10 things we learned ahead of next week’s game at Temple:
Tyler Van Dyke moving up the all-time list
With his two touchdown passes on Thursday, UM quarterback Tyler Van Dyke moved into a tie for ninth place on Miami’s all-time touchdown pass list. He is tied with Ryan Clement with 43 career touchdown passes.
Ahead of Van Dyke are Craig Erickson (46) and Gino Toretta (47).
Records aside, Van Dyke is off to a hot start. According to Pro Football Focus’ initial grades, he had his best game as a Hurricane on Thursday. He earned a 94.2 offensive grade in the win, which eclipsed his 90.3 grade against Bethune-Cookman last year.
The fourth-year quarterback played just the first half, racking up 247 yards on 19 of 23 passes. He threw two touchdowns and ran for another. It was not his most prolific game, but he was accurate and decisive.
“I feel like I’m the best I’ve ever been, accuracy-wise and seeing the field,” Van Dyke said.
Xavier Restrepo pacing receivers
Hurricanes slot receiver Xavier Restrepo has been a primary beneficiary of Van Dyke’s hot start.
The fourth-year junior leads Miami with 314 receiving yards, more than 100 yards beyond UM’s No. 2, Colbie Young. He has also racked up 142 yards after the catch so far this season and is first among Hurricanes receivers with a 91.2 offensive grade.
Restrepo missed a chunk of last year with a foot injury, and he is showing now why he is so important to the Hurricane’ offense.
“He was a guy who, when he went down, that was a rough one,” Cristobal said. “He has a lot of value in so many different ways, as a person, as a leader, as a teammate. What he does down the field, in terms of finding space, in terms of making the tough, contested catch and yards after catch, physical, blocking, it’s kind of important. He’s playing at a really high level and he is a valued member of the team, a valued member of the leadership council.”
One thing is still missing from Restrepo’s stat sheet so far this year: a touchdown.
“I’m just happy we’re winning,” Restrepo said. “TVD’s been playing great. Dude hasn’t missed a throw yet. Just keep on rolling, and if it comes, it comes. I’m not too worried about that.”
Rueben Bain’s time to shine
Freshman Rueben Bain racked up dozens of sacks during his high school career at Miami Central. It took just over two games for him to get his first at Miami, but he was thrilled to get his first college sack early in the game Thursday.
“It felt pretty good,” Bain said. “The guys were telling me that it didn’t count because of a flag. … I’m still in shock. But I’m just ready for the next one.”
With several defensive linemen out, Bain made his first career start. He payed 18 snaps in the blowout and made them count. He was Miami’s top-graded defensive player, earning a 92.7 defensive grade from Pro Football Focus.
Bain particularly excelled in pass rushing, earning a 90.9 grade and forcing five pressures on his 18 snaps. In addition to his sack, Bain had two hits and two hurries, according to Pro Football Focus.
While the Hurricanes picked up a massive win over Texas A&M, two brothers playing their second game with Miami struggled at times.
Against the Aggies, freshman offensive lineman Francis Maugioa allowed a sack and was called for three penalties. He had a 54.5 offensive grade, which was the lowest among the starting linemen. His older brother, linebacker Francisco Mauigoa, had a 41.8 defensive grade, which was the second-lowest on the team, and was called for a pair of costly penalties.
Both brothers had a bounce-back game against Bethune-Cookman on Thursday.
Francis Mauigoa improved to a 64.5 offensive grade and gave up just one quarterback pressure. He was not called for a penalty in the win.
Francisco Mauigoa tied for the team lead with four tackles and had a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. He had the second-highest defensive score on the team (90.7) and notched a 92.7 grade in run defense.
Next-man-up ability is there…
The Hurricanes got a lot of players in the game on Thursday night. According to Pro Football Focus, 63 players got on the field.
Many of those players flashed their ability to play their roles well. Miami was missing three starting defensive linemen (Branson Deen, Nyjalik Kelly and Akheem Mesidor), but the Hurricanes did not miss a step with Bain, Jahfari Harvey, Jared Harrison-Hunte, Thomas Gore and Jake Lichtenstein all getting more playing time.
Without Kam Kinchens playing safety, the Hurricanes turned to Jaden Harris to fill in. Harris ended the game with a tackle and had a 63.6 defensive grade.
Young players like Jayden Wayne, Ray Ray Joseph, Samson Okunlola and Chris Johnson Jr. all did well when they got on the field, too.
…But it’s not complete
The Hurricanes are not perfect all the way down the two- and three-deep depth chart. As Miami rotated in more players late in the game, Bethune-Cookman had its only successful drive.
At the end of the game, the Wildcats went on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with their lone touchdown of the game.
“That part was disappointing,” Cristobal said. “We didn’t close out the game like we wanted to.”
Coaches think highly of Matthew McCoy
The Hurricanes put redshirt freshman Matthew McCoy into the offensive-line mix for more playing time on Thursday.
McCoy spelled left guard Javion Cohen on some drives, playing with the rest of the first-team linemen. He did well in his chance, earning an 80.5 offensive grade with a 68.3 pass-blocking grade and an 80.6 run-blocking grade.
“When you develop an offensive lineman, you’ll see a massive difference when he goes and he works with a veteran group and they all communicate, as opposed to when you surround him with guys that are rookies and don’t have a lot of experience,” Cristobal said. “Matthew McCoy has an unbelievable future here at the University of Miami, and it was time to get his feet wet there with the big boys. He did a good job.”
Emory Williams’ gets a shot
After making his debut in Miami’s season-opening win, freshman quarterback Emory Williams got some more playing time in the second half of Thursday’s win.
Williams played 27 snaps and had 12 passing plays to run. He completed 9 of 11 passes for 102 yards, earning a 60.4 passing grade from Pro Football Focus.
“He’s a young stud,” Restrepo said. “He has amazing talent, has a great arm, really smart and he’s a good kid. His future will be very, very bright.”
Culture change seems to be happening
Last year, the Hurricanes sometimes played down to their opponent. They struggled in wins against Southern Miss and Virginia and — who can forget — lost to Middle Tennessee State.
Despite having a short week after playing a physical game against the Aggies, Miami did not let up. They scored on all but one drive in the first half (the lone exception being a fumble near the goal line), and they shut the Wildcats out until Bethune-Cookman’s final drive.
Miami has beaten plenty of overmatched opponents in the past, including Bethune-Cookman last year, but not taking a step back despite logistical challenges is a positive sign.
“Our team is just executing at an all-time high,” Restrepo said. “Winning’s great. It’s not easy. If our culture stays at an all-tie high, like it is, we should have no problem (to) keep on winning.”
Season is a quarter over already
Believe it or not, but the Hurricanes have now played a quarter of their season. So far, they look pretty good.
Miami cruised to two victories that were expected and picked up a swing-game win over Texas A&M. After losing five home games last year, UM won three home games to begin the season. Next up is the season’s first road trip (to Temple), and then ACC play begins.
“We closed out the month of September 3-0 here at home, which is really important to us,” Cristobal said. “This is the last time we play at Hard Rock for I think three weeks or so. That was a big offseason point, we were going to make Hard Rock our place. We were going to make it a tough place for people to come in and play and we’re off to a good start there.”