The Miami Hurricanes got out to a halftime lead Saturday against the Texas A&M Aggies, even after losing two starting defensive lineman and one of their most exciting freshmen to unspecified injuries in the first half.
Akheem Mesidor, Branson Deen and Mark Fletcher Jr. all went down with injuries in the first half, and did not return.
Rueben Bain Jr. took Mesidor’s spot at defensive end to start the second half and fellow defensive lineman Jared Harrison-Hunte stepped in for Deen at defensive tackle. Mesidor had three tackles and a tackle for loss before exiting, and Deen did not record any stats.
Fletcher, who scored his first touchdown in his collegiate debut last weekend, had four carries for 6 yards before getting hurt.
Miami entered the game almost entirely healthy, too. Tight end Elijah Arroyo was the only player missing from the listed two-deep depth chart, still recovering from a knee injury he sustained last season.
Daniels dazzles back at home
Amari Daniels waved to the Hard Rock Stadium crowd after he scampered into the end zone for his first touchdown of the 2023 college football season. The running back was back home in South Florida and quickly headed toward one of the best games of his career.
Daniels, who starred at nearby Miami Central before signing to play with the Texas A&M Aggies as part of their vaunted Class of 2021, was the focal point of Texas A&M’s offense throughout the first half and helped the Aggies jump out to a two-score lead in the second quarter before the Hurricanes’ rallied to take a halftime lead.
Daniels scored with 13:11 left in the second quarter, rushing for a 9-yard touchdown after a muffed punt by Miami gave Texas A&M the ball in the red zone. It was only the second touchdown of the junior’s career and the run gave him 43 rushing yards, which were already his fifth most in a game in his career.
Defensive lineman Shemar Stewart, another local product and former star at Monsignor Pace, also had a sack in his return to Miami Gardens.
Three other Aggies have ties to the Hurricanes: Tight ends coach James Coley grew up in Miami, and was the Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2013-15; and quarterback Max Johnson and tight end Jake Johnson are the nephews of former coach Mark Richt.
Restrepo finally gets A&M shot
Miami starting slot receiver Xavier Restrepo, who had five catches for 68 yards in the opener against Miami of Ohio, on Saturday faced the the Aggies for the first time. Restrepo, a fourth-year junior out of Deerfield Beach High, last year “broke the fifth metatarsal” of his left foot the week leading into the Sept. 17 game at Texas A&M.
“I had surgery the Friday when they left,’’ Restrepo said this week. “It’s another opportunity to be great. Texas A&M is a really good football team, but it doesn’t matter what team it is, I’m always grateful for another opportunity. [I’m] super excited.”
Restrepo made the most of his shot. His twisting 19-yard catch right before halftime set Miami up at the Aggies’ 6-yard line and the Hurricanes scored on the next play to take a 21-17 lead into the second half.
Cristobal reacts to ACC additions
Coach Mario Cristobal, who coached Oregon in the Pac-12 Conference before coming to Miami in 2021, was asked what he thought about the Atlantic Coast Conference voting to add California, Stanford and SMU to the league in 2024.
“I spent a lot of time out there playing against those teams,’’ Cristobal said. “Really good teams, really good schools, great fan bases, really great places to play. I trust the leadership of not only our university, but our conference, and I’m certainly exctied to have those teams a part of it as well.”
Miami honors 1983 title team
Miami’s first national championship team of 1983 was honored Saturday, when former players and coaches and staff ran onto the field at halftime for a ceremony. Former coach Howard Schnellenberger, who died in 2021, was represented by his wife Beverlee. The former players included quarterback great Bernie Kosar and legendary fullback Alonzo Highsmith, who’s now the general manager of football operations.
This and that
The Hurricanes’ captains Saturday were center Matt Lee, left tackle Jalen Rivers, right guard Anez Cooper, linebacker Francisco Mauigoa, safety Kamren Kinchens and defensive end Jahfari Harvey.