After inconsistent play in the first three games, the receivers for the Miami football team improved despite a dismal 45-31 loss to Middle Tennessee State on Saturday. Frank Ladson led Miami receivers with six receptions for 65 yards and Key’Shawn Smith topped the Hurricanes with 81 yards on four receptions.
Tight end Will Mallory had his second straight productive game with four receptions for 50 yards. Mallory and Brashard Smith are tied for the Miami team lead with 12 receptions this season. Mallory and Smith passed Xavier Restrepo on Saturday. Restrepo has missed the last two games with an injury.
Brashard Smith had three receptions for 27 yards versus Middle Tennessee State. Key’shawn Smith continued to show his explosiveness versus Middle Tennessee State. Smith had a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and 23 and 39-yard receptions. Smith leads the country averaging 40.1 yards per kickoff return.
Tight ends Elijah Arroyo and Jaleel Skinner also produced on Saturday. Arroyo had two receptions for 21 yards and Skinner one for 18. Skinner leads Miami averaging 23.5 yards per reception on two catches this season. Key’Shawn Smith is second at 17.2 YPC. Eleven different Miami players had receptions versus Middle Tennessee State.
The Miami football team was more explosive downfield following the quarterback change from Tyler Van Dyke to Jake Garcia in the third quarter. Van Dyke did not complete any pass attempts of 15 yards or more on Saturday. Garcia completed three passes in eight attempts for 78 yards on pass attempts of 15 or more yards.
Van Dyke finished 16-32 for 138 yards, one TD and two interceptions. Garcia was 10-19 for 169 yards. Mallory and Key’Shawn Smith were the favorite receivers for Garcia. Mallory caught three passes from Garcia for 41 yards. Smith had three receptions for 74 yards with Garcia as the QB.
Ladson had all of his receptions in the first half before getting injured. With North Carolina next on October 8 following a bye week, Miami is going to need to improve offensively. North Carolina is eighth nationally averaging 46.5 points per game. Miami is 47th at 35 PPG. Miami is averaging 23.4 PPG versus FBS opponents.
North Carolina is 113th allowing 278.8 passing yards per game. If the Miami offense is going to evolve under new coordinator Josh Gattis, the Hurricanes will need consistent play at WR. The loss of Mike Harley and Charleston Rambo after last season and Restrepo early in 2022 have appeared to affect Van Dyke.
Head coach Mario Cristobal and Gattis will have to determine if Garcia or Van Dyke gives the offense the best opportunity to thrive for the remainder of the season. The Miami football team needs Mallory to continue to be a consistent threat after having 10 receptions for 106 yards in the last two weeks.
There is a lot of work for the Miami coaching staff to conduct during the bye week. Miami has gotten off to slow starts offensively in every game versus an FBS opponent this season. The Hurricanes are 82nd nationally averaging 112.5 passing yards per game in the first half. That needs to change in ACC play.