Happy game day, Canes fans. Your Miami Hurricanes play tackle football tonight against the Texas A&M Aggies at 9:00 pm ET on ESPN. When the schedule came out, this game was circles as one of the season’s biggest tests, and even with the Aggies’ loss last week, that circumstance hasn’t changed. The Aggies are a talented team that will require a top-level effort from UM to prevail.
With that being said, who are the five Miami Hurricanes that will have to star in order for UM to escape College Station with a big win?
5) Tyler Van Dyke. It’s hard to win a big game when your quarterback doesn’t play well, so this one is kind of obvious (and also why I put him 5th). TVD didn’t look particularly sharp in the first half last week, but rounded into form on the half’s final drive and third quarter to put the game out of reach. However, almost two full quarters of misfires will spell almost certain doom against a team like A&M, so he and his receivers will have to be on the same page from the start.
4) James Williams. With A&M changing their starting quarterback from Haynes King to Max Johnson, the A&M passing game just got better. Miami’s best player in their back seven will have to be Johnny-on-the-spot as the last line of defense and not get caught out of position to allow a big play.
3) Leonard Taylor. They said on College Gameday this morning what I had been thinking as far as UM’s general defensive strategy - stuff the middle and challenge Johnson to win the game with big throws. And that starts with the most dynamic player on Miami’s defensive line in Taylor. He’s been downright unblockable at times and has set the tone on what’s been a very effective interior of Miami’s defensive line through two games. He, Jake Lichtenstein, and Jared Harrison-Hunte will be key in helping turn A&M’s offense one-dimensional and keeping the Aggies in second and third and medium/long situations.
2) Brashard Smith. I had been counting on Xavier Restrepo as a steady force to help move the chains on Saturday, but a foot injury has him sidelined for the game. As such, someone else is going to step up. But hey, speaking of Restrepo, why should I question who he’s pegged to fill his shoes? Take it from the man himself:
So, yeah, it’s time for the 5’10”, 194-pound sophomore from Richmond Heights to make his name known to a national audience with a big effort tonight.
But while Smith has the ability to do so, there’s one particular player I’m looking at to be the star tonight in orange and green....
1) Key’Shawn Smith. And that’s another Smith who’s flashed the ability of a potentially-special player since last year, and that’s Key’Shawn. Yes, I’m that worried about the Miami passing game. The offensive line and running backs do not concern me. I think they’ll have relative success. Finding chunk passing plays are the issue.
And that’s where number five comes in. Miami needed a big play last week against Southern Miss, and they got it with the flea-flicker touchdown to Key. Last year, he had a number of big catches, including the game-winning touchdown grab in Miami’s big road win at Pittsburgh. Miami needs someone to replace Charleston Rambo’s 2021 heroics, and that needs to start with Key tonight.