No. 23 Texas A&M won a low-scoring slugfest when it faced Miami last season. But the Aggies' offense looks nothing like it did a year ago entering Saturday afternoon's rematch with the Hurricanes in Miami Gardens, Fla.
The Aggies gained just 264 total yards when they beat Miami 17-9 in September 2022 in College Station, Texas. They got only 140 passing yards from then-starting quarterback Max Johnson, and De'Von Achane, who carried the run game, is now in the NFL.
It's a new year, and Texas A&M (1-0) appears to have settled its quarterback question. Sophomore Conner Weigman, a former five-star prospect, had as many passing touchdowns as incompletions (five) in a season-opening, 52-10 win over New Mexico.
Three of Weigman's touchdowns went to Noah Thomas, all in the first half, while Evan Stewart added eight receptions for 115 yards and two scores.
"When they had unblocked defenders and people got through, I thought Conner did an excellent job of buying time, stepping one or two little steps away by just a couple feet to be able to get the ball out his hands," Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said. "And he was really good, and still accurate with it and got the ball to playmakers."
The Aggies' defense faces a stiffer test this week against an experienced quarterback in Tyler Van Dyke and a Miami rushing attack that gained 250 yards in the season-opening win over Miami (Ohio).
The Hurricanes (1-0) got rushing touchdowns from Mark Fletcher Jr., Henry Parrish Jr. and Donald Chaney Jr. in the second half — ranging from 12 to 26 yards — to pull away for a 38-3 victory.
"We got the guys up front and physicality, but it's a different opponent," Fisher said. "Miami is a very good opponent and they know how to run it. (Miami coach Mario Cristobal is) a line coach himself. He's gonna have those guys ready to run it and you guys still gotta play the play-action passes and things are always gonna come off those things."
Cristobal is wary of Texas A&M's sizable defensive front, which could make things tougher in the run game. Meanwhile, Van Dyke wore tape on the index finger of his throwing hand in the opener — he purportedly bruised it in late August — but Cristobal said he has no limits.
"So much was made of it in the media when they saw him with it. Some people thought it was a prosthetic finger or something," Cristobal said. "Whatever makes him feel comfortable."
Miami wants to avenge last year's loss and make a statement in its only marquee nonconference game.
"The juice takes care of itself," Cristobal said. "I don't think there's anything I can do at a practice or meeting to increase that. They're well aware of the opportunity that we have in front of us."
According to Cristobal, wide receiver Colbie Young is OK after leaving the opener early with a possible leg injury. Tight end Elijah Arroyo missed the opener with an injury, but Cristobal said there was "a good chance" he'd be available against Texas A&M.
Texas A&M linebacker JD Davis, who was "banged up" against New Mexico, per Fisher, is expected to play.
—Field Level Media