MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The Miami Hurricanes gave themselves a short window to celebrate a dominant 38-3 win over Miami (Ohio) in their season opener.
They’ll quickly turned their attention to Texas A&M, which caused their first loss of the 2022 season and jumpstarted a three-game losing streak.
“Already on it,’’ said safety Kamren Kinchens after the opener, snapping his fingers to represent how swiftly the Hurricanes moved on. “Real good team. We’re going to take in this win and enjoy it, but we know who we got next and we know what our mental state has got to be.’’
The No. 23 Aggies will enter Saturday’s matchup with the Hurricanes coming off a 52-10 rout of New Mexico and hungry to capitalize off that momentum after a disappointing 2022 season.
New Aggies starting quarterback Conner Weigman became the first Aggie to pass for five touchdowns in regulation since Johnny Manziel in 2013. He finished 18 of 23 with 236 yards passing before heading to the sideline in the fourth quarter.
The Aggies last scored 52 points in a 2021 win over Prairie View A&M. The last time they scored that many points against an FBS opponent was in a 74-72 win over LSU in 2018, a game that went to seven overtimes.
“They’re really good,” said Miami’s second-year coach Mario Cristobal. “Not only in the past game but they’ve shown even last year how good they can be. They score a lot of points and make a lot of explosive plays. That’s probably what stuck out most about last game — the score kept changing in a hurry because of the explosive plays that they made.”
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said Weigman had time to make good throws because of protection up front.
“Offensive line did a really nice job,” Fisher said. “We had time to throw the ball. We had clean pockets. We could drive the ball down the field and give us space to be able to do the things you want to do. You can draw it up all you want, but if you don’t have time and space, it doesn’t work.”
The Hurricanes showed early improvements from where they were a year ago, when starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke battled injuries and their defense uncharacteristically struggled.
The key for Miami will be not repeating some of the red zone struggles from last year’s game.
“It’s such a big part of fall camp,” Cristobal said. “It’s such a big part of your game plan. Last year we really struggled in the red zone, and they were, I believe, a top-seven red-zone defense in the country. They just do a good job of forcing you to just earn every inch down there.”
The Aggies boast one of the biggest and most talented defensive fronts in the country and will pose a challenge for Miami’s runners, who recorded 250 yards on the ground last week.
Cristobal has paid close attention to Texas A&M’s defense.
“A lot,” Cristobal responded when asked what stands out to him about the Aggies defensive line. “They’re disruptive because they’re explosive players that are really thick and powerful. But they’re also athletic where they can counter. They can get themselves out of tough positions.”
Boston College graduate transfer Josh DeBerry made an immediate impact with a sack and an interception in his Aggies’ debut.
DeBerry said going against the deep receiving corps in fall camp helped him prepare for the season.
“I’m truly blessed that ended up here and with the receiving corps that I’ve had to go against,” he said. “I’m just glad I don’t have to go against them anymore. I’m glad I get to root for them on Saturdays now.”
Fisher said DeBerry’s maturity and versatility on film made the Aggies confident in his ability to contribute right away to their stout defensive unit.
“With portal guys, especially when they only have one year, can they make an immediate impact?” Fisher said. “And how much impact can they have quickly? Also, is he a guy that all right, if he doesn’t become the starter, is he content with ‘OK, I’m still playing and getting playing time.’ … That guy was very mature, the production he had on film, we thought he was an excellent player.”
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