The Miami Hurricanes I played eight-quarters of football and about six of them were good. There are problems of course. But when you look across the country at other shows that have lost or nearly lost to a group of five opponents, it could be a lot worse.
Mario Cristobal and the coaching staff had a lot of question marks on the roster entering the season. They didn’t answer all the questions, and some of them are a little unsettling. But these are five things that I love from the first two games of the 2022 season.
1) Wide receivers catch the ball
After losing the two best receivers from last season, one of the biggest question marks for the team was the group of receivers. Xavier Restrepo was supposed to have the best pass, but then he would lose.
Through two games, it’s clear that Restrepo was the number one guy. But there have been flashes from quite a few other receivers and no problem with drips so far (knock on wood so hard, my joints will bleed).
Michael Redding, Brachard Smith, and Kishon Smith all made plays and made me feel some semblance of confidence that Tyler Van Dyke would throw their way.
Redding is second on the team with 76 yards and a touchdown in five receptions. Brashard Smith has the second most catches at six, going for 65 yards. Keyshawn Smith has one of the biggest plays of the season so far, earning a 35-yard touchdown on a flea flash against the Southern Miss.
Keyshawn Smith’s touchdown was significant to me because he was able to catch a pass that looked awkward as it fell into his hands. Playing plays like this is important for this team.
Brachard Smith played such a play in the first quarter in a third and long. With a defensive lineman Miss South making the offside jump, Van Dyck threw an aggressive pass into the seam. It slipped through a few defenders and Smith was able to get up and play for the ball. He threw it into his fist when he fell to the ground for a massive 30-yard turn.
This may not be the case going forward against the ACC and . teams Texas A&Mbut it is very important that these players can play against less important opponents first.
2) Thad Franklin runs like a train
There are few things I enjoy in this world more than watching Thaddeus Franklin carry the ball. Due to injuries, we will see Franklin a lot more than we expected over the summer.
But at this point, I’m fine because it has moved up in the depth chart. Through two games, Franklin has 135 yards and three touchdowns on 21 coaches. And every time it touches the ball, it moves like a train running on rails at full speed.
With the rear field in full health, it’s very nice to know that Franklin could be our third, fourth or fifth back when I enjoy having him second on the depth chart.
The fact that he weighs 240 pounds looks like she’s going to be huge this season in late-playing situations. How many defensive fronts will have the energy left to confront Franklin?
3) Corey Flagg is improved a lot
If wide receivers were the biggest concern entering the season, the full-back was right there with him. Last season, the team’s biggest problem was the center back and it looks like this could continue into 2022.
Corey Flagg was the best full-back to date in two games, making plenty of tackles behind a much-improved defensive line. I hope this continues all season.
He leads the team in both total tackles (10) and tackles for loss (3.5) and has been around the ball constantly. With so many players rotating along the defensive line who can cause havoc in the backcourt, midfielders need to be able to play plays behind them and Flagg has done a pretty good job of doing so thus far. Something no players did last season.
4) James Williams plays close to the line
The biggest mismatch an offense can make is a giant narrow end that moves like a wide receiver. Hurricanes have safety is their version of defense. James Williams is what Greg Russo would have looked like if he played it safe.
Williams is a nightmare to deal with because he’s huge, but he moves around the field really well. And as he plays more in the penalty area, he can make more plays and block the passing lanes in the middle.
With Williams playing mid-court, his length and range make him a nightmare to try to shake off.
With two games, he is second on the team in tackles with eight players and is also one of four Miami players to intercept.
One of my favorite plays from the game against the Southern Miss was one from midfield. They cast a wheeled way into the right lateral line, and Williams, who was about a foot taller than the receiver, climbed up and almost grabbed with one hand.
He played on the ball as if a giant receiver was walking in a path. He can certainly play all over the field, but playing five yards from the line of scrimmage seems to be where he was born to play.
He also had a blow in the middle that led to confusion, giving the attack a great fielding position late in the game.
5) Lead Dam Xavier Restrepo
This is a strange one. Xavier Restrepo leads the team on basically every receiving stat, but what I love the most is his blocking. Not only in attack, but in special teams.
Keyshawn Smith had a great day back in the game against Bethune-Cookman, but Restrepo was a big part of that. There were several times he could be seen walking down the field and kicking a player off his feet.
In one of the game’s biggest offensive plays against the Southern Miss, Restrepo did the same to help get different players out to start playing.
As good as he is, it’s all the other things he’s doing that make him such a great hurricane. You can tell that he works just as hard to help other players score as he does with his score. And just because a lot of it isn’t circulated online with videos, that doesn’t mean it’s unremarkable.