Just about everything in 2022 was hard for the Miami Hurricanes football program. Running the ball. Putting points on the scoreboard. Creating turnovers and impact plays on defense. Preventing chunk plays in the passing game.
The exception was on November 12 in Atlanta. Making his first start, true freshman QB Jacurri Brown completed 14 of 19 passes for 136 yards with three touchdowns as the Canes toppled Georgia Tech 35-14.
Miami entered the game coming off a deflating 45-3 loss to FSU, one where Tyler Van Dyke tried to play, but re-aggravated his shoulder injury in the first half. Jake Garcia had struggled through various opportunities in October and November, so Mario Cristobal gave the nod to Brown to start against the Yellow Jackets.
And that decision was one that paid off for the Hurricanes.
Miami took the opening kickoff down the field, and 11 plays and 75 yards later the Canes were in the end zone. Brown found Mallory out of the backfield on a wheel route for 22-yards, who was wide open and trotted in for the score.
Near the end of the first quarter, the Canes got the ball back and put together an 11-play, 93-yard drive that ended with Brown finding Jaleel Skinner for a 4-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead. The Jackets would put together a long drive themselves, going 99 yards just before the halftime gun to trim the Miami lead to 14-7.
After a combined five punts and two Georgia Tech interceptions, Miami finally found paydirt again early in the fourth quarter with a methodical 51-yard drive. Brown found Bashard Smith for 13 yards before scampering for 24 himself to get into the red zone. 3 plays later, Brown connected with Colbie Young in the end zone for a 21-7 lead.
After Georgia Tech turned it over on downs in their own territory, Jaylan Knighton pushed the Canes to a very comfortable 28-7 margin on a 2-yard run with 4:29 left.
And where Brown had an efficient and productive day on the offensive side of the ball, All-American safety Kamren Kinchens had a RECORD-SETTING day on defense. Kinchens snared three interceptions - the first time by a Miami defender since Kenny Phillips way back in 2006 - and returned the last one 99-yards for the Canes’ final points of the game.
It was a rare day where Miami fans could celebrate and feel good about something. It was a game where Georgia Tech certainly wasn’t good - one would say terrible, even - but Miami was more than capable of taking advantage of those mistakes. And full credit has to go to Miami’s defense for confusing Tech QBs Zach Gibson and Zach Pyron and forcing some mistakes.
Overall, where Miami has had struggles in all three phases of the game, this was one where offense, defense, and special teams all came together and played well. And that’s why it’s the 2022 State of the U game of the year.