No. 22 Miami looks to stay locked in this week when hosting Bethune-Cookman looking for 3-0 start

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The start of the season has gone exactly as planned for No. 22 Miami. Two games, two wins, one loss from last season avenged and the Hurricanes are back in the AP Top 25 as well.

They don’t seem to care about any of this.

Miami coach Mario Cristobal used to work for Alabama coach Nick Saban, who famously refers to praise from the outside world as “rat poison.” Cristobal didn’t use that phrase, but sure sounded like his old boss when talking about how the Hurricanes (2-0) — who host lower-division Bethune-Cookman (1-1) on Thursday night — would be wise to not read too much into the hype.

“Let’s call it what it is: The same praise that they’re getting now is coming from the same sources that were throwing dirt on them before,” Cristobal said. “Praise and criticism, those things aren’t there at 4:30 in the morning when you’re up and working and what-not. It’s never been part of the process when things get better or things don’t go as planned.”

Miami’s 48-33 win over previously ranked Texas A&M on Saturday — the Aggies beat the Hurricanes 17-9 last season, starting a stretch where Miami lost seven of its final 10 games in Cristobal’s first season as coach at his alma mater — was obviously a very positive sign for the program.

But they don’t hang banners for 2-0 starts, or just getting back into the national rankings.

“We’ve moved on from the A&M game,” said Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who had five touchdown throws against the Aggies. “Obviously, big win for us and the program. But we have to move on from it.”

Cristobal said he’s liked the mindset coming off the Texas A&M game, especially since Miami is about to play an opponent that it beat 70-13 last season and should have little trouble with.

“The approach has been simple,” Cristobal said. “It’s been identifying those things that are hurting us, the way we are hurting ourselves, things that we can get better at, things that we’re really close at being better at as well. It’s a complete assault on improvement and betterment.”

COACHING SAGA

This briefly looked like it would be a matchup pitting Ed Reed — a Hurricanes legend, a Pro Football Hall of Fame safety and a former Miami staff member — against his school. But Reed’s time as coach of Bethune-Cookman never officially got started, after a January agreement in principle didn’t lead to an actual contract. The Wildcats wound up hiring Raymond Woodie Jr. in February.

At Miami, Reed was part of the Hurricanes’ most recent national title team in 2001. He set school records for career interceptions (21) and interception return yards (369), plus won a Big East championship in javelin in 1999.

SCOUTING BETHUNE

The question is quarterback, where Luke Sprague has been a backup behind Walter Simmons III for the first two games of Bethune-Cookman’s season but was 23 for 29 for 223 yards and two touchdowns in three quarters of work to lead the Wildcats past Savannah State last week.

TVD WATCH

Van Dyke is completing 73% of his passes so far this season, 63% for his career and is on pace to break the Miami single-season and career marks in those categories. He’s up to exactly 400 completions at Miami, 13 away from matching Vinny Testaverde for No. 10 on the school career list.

PLAYING TIME

Miami has used 73 players so far this season. “The best opportunity about this week is that guys are continuing to earn, or not earn, opportunities to play,” Cristobal said. “Everybody wants to play and we’re playing a lot of guys. We’re playing a lot of guys. Playing time around here is going to be earned. You’ve got to be trusted.”

RED ZONE

Miami enters the week as one of 34 teams at the FBS level to score on every trip it has made into the red zone — the opposing 20-yard line — this season. The Hurricanes are 8 for 8 (five touchdowns, three field goals) in that situation in 2023.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football