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Miami football: 4 Hurricanes takeaways from loss to Aggies

NCAA football, Miami football, Texas A&M football, Tyler Van Dyke, Mario Cristobal

Miami football absorbed its first defeat of the 2022 college football season at the hands of the Texas A&M Aggies. The Hurricanes fell to the Aggies, 17-9, on the road at Kyle Field. Here are some takeaways from Miami’s loss to Texas A&M in Week 3.

No. 13 Miami lost its ninth consecutive nonconference matchup versus a Power Five opponent. No. 24 Texas A&M defeated the Hurricanes in what was a sloppy but hard-fought contest on Saturday night. The Aggies won despite scoring only seven points in the second half, while the Hurricanes settled for three field goals after failing to hit the end zone on many occasions.

Now let’s take a look at four takeaways from Miami football’s sorry Week 3 loss to Texas A&M.

4. Coach Mario Cristobal’s questionable decisions

Mario Cristobal has been a head coach long enough to have seen about every in-game scenario conceivable, yet he coached as if he were on another planet in this game. His team managed only three field goals in four red zone visits, including a 22-yarder on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line late in the third quarter to make it 17-6. Yes, scores were important, but there was little indication that Miami’s attack could overcome the Aggies’ defense at that time.

Cristobal chose a field goal on fourth-and-4 from the 16-yard line in the fourth quarter with the same score. While this made it a one-score game, it was too late in the game for Miami to actually reach the end zone – something it hadn’t done all night – and convert a 2-point conversion.

Despite gaining only 17 yards on six plays, the Hurricanes grabbed the ball back with 7:06 remaining and ran 3:57 off the clock. With 1:16 remaining, they had one final shot, but the two-minute attack looked as disorganized as a junior varsity squad. It just didn’t look like Cristobal managed these game situations well.

3. Miami football’s missed chances

As we already mentioned, Miami football’s red zone offense was atrocious. The Canes had four trips into the red zone and converted just three field goal attempts. Miami got to first and goal on one play and ran the ball three times before calling in the field goal unit.

Miami’s drives were frequently halted in the red zone. Instead of going for touchdowns on fourth down, Miami decided — or was forced — to kick field goals. Miami paid the price as their final effort stopped with 30 seconds remaining.

Remember that Miami had opportunities to win this game. With less than 3 minutes remaining in the game, the Hurricanes missed two field goals, lost numerous passes, muffed a punt, and failed to recover a critical fumble.

Miami still had a chance to win this game. The gaffes in the red zone will be remembered by the Canes’ fans for a long time – and for good cause. Again, despite these snafus, Miami had a chance to shock the Aggies on the road.

Perhaps the Hurricanes will use this as a learning experience in the future. Keep in mind that in Week 4, they will host Middle Tennessee.

2. Tyler Van Dyke can’t do this alone

Cristobal stated that Miami will be missing WR Xavier Restrepo for “at least six weeks.” That means he returns at the earliest for the final four games of the season, which begin Nov. 5 at home against Florida State. This is very concerning given that Miami’s current receivers dropped at least six receptions.

Miami football QB Tyler Van Dyke struggled as quarterback on Saturday. Throughout Miami’s first few games, his precision has been off. He’s the first one to confess it, too. Still, in a game like this one, where he completed 21-of-41 passes for 217 yards, settling for field goals in the red zone wasn’t all on him.

In particular, Josh Gattis, the offensive coordinator, needs to do a better job of setting him up. Van Dyke’s receivers also needed to do more to create separation and ease his burden.

Remember that through the first two games of the season, Miami’s receivers had dropped only one ball. What occurred Saturday night cannot happen again if Miami is to defeat a strong team like A&M.

Van Dyke was not sacked here, although he was repeatedly pressured. He also wished he could take back a couple of throws, including a crossing route to Michael Redding, who may have been running for a long had he hit him in stride. Instead, the pass was incomplete.

Van Dyke only completed six passes for 71 yards with both Key’Shawn Smith and Redding. He hit them 19 times in all. They just need to do better.

1. Miami football’s D is good

Now, having said all those not-so-nice takeaways, here’s why Miami supporters should be optimistic about the rest of the season.

Sure, Miami football’s offense failed in several areas, but their defense kept the team in the game. In College Station, the Canes limited Texas A&M’s offense to 5.2 yards per play.

Yes, Max Johnson is a mediocre quarterback. He is employed more as a game manager. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, shut down Texas A&M’s run game (Devon Achane had 18 carries for 88 yards) and held Johnson to 10-of-20 passing for 140 yards and a touchdown on a short throw to Achane. The Hurricanes’ awful tackling performance on that play was one of the few occasions they slipped.

On the bright side of things, cornerback D.J. Ivey had two pass breakups, and safety James Williams and Kam Kinchens had many tackles.

If Miami’s defense could improve in one area, it would be the number of turnovers. Texas A&M didn’t turn the ball over at all on Saturday night, which proved decisive in the game.