Five things to watch for at Hurricanes’ spring game at Fort Lauderdale’s DRV PNK Stadium

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CORAL GABLES — The Hurricanes’ second spring practice slate under Mario Cristobal comes to an end Friday night at DRV PNK Stadium as Miami plays its second straight spring game in Fort Lauderdale.

Friday’s game, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will air on ACC Network Extra, is the first chance fans will have to watch Miami since its disappointing 2022 season ended in November.


“It’ll be a snapshot of some of the things,” Cristobal said. “There’s nobody in the country that’s going to open up what you do. You’d be foolish to do so. Will you see a lot of guys playing that need to play? Absolutely. You’re going to see a lot of guys that just got here. We’re going to play football. We are. How exotic it’ll be will depend. There’s going to be some stuff that’s a lot of fun and some other stuff, you’re going to hold back.”

Here are five things Miami fans can keep an eye on during tomorrow’s spring game:


The Hurricanes brought in new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson from Houston and new defensive coordinator Lance Guidry from Tulane. Friday’s game will be the debut of their new systems in front of fans. Dawson’s offense ranked 15th and 16th in 2021 and 2022, respectively. Guidry, who was the defensive coordinator at Marshall last year, had the No. 3 defense in the nation.

Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke said the team had quickly picked up Dawson’s system.

“They’re learning it pretty good, too,” Van Dyke said. “I think this is, since I’ve been here with all the new coaches that we’ve had, probably the best that everybody’s learned it. I think everyone’s really locked in, really trying to get better and learn the offense quickly.”

If you wanted to see Van Dyke face off against All-American safety Kamren Kinchens or see how Miami’s freshmen offensive linemen fare against the likes of Akheem Mesidor and other top defensive ends, Friday will be your opportunity. Cristobal said the Hurricanes’ first-team offense will go against the first-team defense while the backups will face each other.

“You’ll see a mixed back, but it’ll be even vs. even,” Cristobal said. “In other words, if you’re on with the ones, you’re going to be playing against ones. We’re not going to have ones vs. twos — I know that’s a traditional format around the country — but we just have a different philosophy.”

A key area where Miami wants to improve this season is in wide-receiver production. The Hurricanes’ top pass-catcher last season was tight end Will Mallory, and he departed for the NFL. Miami does return last year’s top receiver, Colbie Young, who had 376 receiving yards, as well as key slot receiver Xavier Restrepo, who missed a significant part of the season with a foot injury.

The Hurricanes also have two new wide receivers in Nathaniel “Ray Ray” Joseph and Robby Washington, who bring more speed to the offense.

“They’re actually very similar players,” Cristobal said. “Very fast. They might be one of the fastest guys on the team. . . . They’ve been good, have great separation on their routes. Just very savvy with it. They’re not robots. They just play ball, which is good.”


Cristobal said the wide receivers have done well some days while struggling other days during spring practice.

“We’ve seen some really, really good days and we’ve seen some other days where we’ve been inconsistent,” Cristobal said. “The most important thing you see is buy-in and you see effort. If you get that, you can live with the rest and work your way to getting a better performance. There have been some days of performance that are like, ‘Man, OK, that’s what we need to start looking like on Saturdays.’ And then you see some inconsistencies. . . . The group has a very good mentality and vibe to it.”

Van Dyke returns for his third season as the Hurricanes’ starter, and he is playing under his third offensive coordinator. How he performs in Dawson’s offense will be crucial to Miami’s success this season.


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But perhaps more interesting than Van Dyke’s performance will be how sophomore Jacurri Brown and freshman Emory Williams look in their time on the field. Brown got on the field after Van Dyke suffered a season-altering shoulder injury against Duke and had flashes of brilliance. Now Brown says he can throw as well as he can run.

Williams has also drawn positive reviews since arriving on campus this winter.

“He impresses me,” Van Dyke said early in spring. “He does. He’s a well-rounded kid, very accurate with the football, smart, so he’s going to be good, too.”


The Hurricanes’ offensive line will look significantly different than it did last year. John Campbell Jr. and Jakai Clark left via the transfer portal, and Miami added Javion Cohen (from Alabama) and Matt Lee (UCF).

Cohen was a two-year starter for the Crimson Tide, and Lee was one of the top-rated centers in the nation last season.

The Hurricanes also signed two major high-school prospects: five-star tackles Francis Mauigoa and Samson Okunlola. Mauigoa has been playing with the first team for most of spring practice, while Okunlola has been playing left tackle on the second team.

“I think they’re awesome because they’re five-star workers,” offensive line coach Alex Mirabal said. “Forget about all the recruiting hype and all that BS, forget about the Twitter world and all that. They (have) five-star work ethic, both those kids. Both those kids, they want to do well, they want to work.”

Adam Lichtenstein

Adam Lichtenstein

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