Nearly ‘entire team’ healthy for Miami Hurricanes’ season opener

CORAL GABLES — The Miami Hurricanes enter Week 1 of the season with some uncommon luck. Coach Mario Cristobal said the team is nearly completely healthy following fall camp.

“Right now, we feel our entire team — minus the guys that had surgery — are going to be able to play,” Cristobal said.

There was a report that starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke could miss the first game with a hand injury, but Cristobal dispelled that notion Monday afternoon.

“He’s 100 percent and has been practicing with our team,” Cristobal said.

Redshirt freshman running back TreVonte’ Citizen, who has been out since training camp last year after tearing his ACL, was one of the players Cristobal said would remain sidelined. Freshman offensive lineman Antonio Tripp Jr. will also miss a few weeks due to a shoulder injury.

Cristobal said fourth-year redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Jonathan Denis, who suffered a season-ending injury at the end of the 2022 season, would miss Game 1 but was “really close” to returning.

“He may not play in this game, but he may be ready for Game 2 or 3,” Cristobal said.

Fourth-year junior Zion Nelson will also be held out of Friday’s game. He had knee surgery prior to the 2022 season but played only two games last year.

“We expect him back, just not yet,” Cristobal said. “We’ve taken this long to get it right. We want to get it right completely.”

Miami also had positive injury news. Cristobal said redshirt sophomore linebacker Chase Smith, who played in just two games last season, had been cleared to play and had returned to practice.

“He’s been repping with all the groups on special teams and on defense,” Cristobal said.

Williams moving positions on week-by-week basis

Hurricanes safety James Williams will spend time at both safety and outside linebacker this season, defensive coordinator Lance Guidry said.

“We’ll probably pick and choose what games he’ll play an outside linebacker and which ones he’ll be dedicated to just playing back there at the safety position,” Guidry said.

Guidry said Williams’ positioning will be decided on a game-by-game basis depending on how Miami’s opponents match up with their defense.

“Whether it’s a tight end we need to cover with an outside linebacker or do we want to blitz a bigger guy,” Guidry said, “because he’s bigger than all the Sam backers.”

Guidry facing former team

Guidry’s first taste of FBS football was in Miami — the one in Ohio.

The defensive coordinator, who had previously coached high school football and FCS school McNeese State, started coaching defensive backs at Miami (Ohio) in 2009 and spent two years at the school. Now he will face his former team in his first game as the Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator.

“Being a Louisiana boy, I didn’t know that much about Miami of Ohio,” Guidry said. “I remember watching Ben Roethlisberger in a bowl game one time. And when I got the call to go there with Mike Haywood, I found out a lot about it. It’s the cradle of coaches.”

Guidry got his first win as a head coach with the team, serving as interim coach for the 2010 Bowl and beating Middle Tennessee State 35-21.

“I enjoyed my stay there,” Guidry said. “I liked Cincinnati. Cincinnati was close by, so it was good to me.”