Gore Jr. heads to dad’s old stomping grounds as Southern Miss faces Miami

Published 4:53 pm Friday, September 9, 2022

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Frank Gore had a flair for drama when he played for the Miami Hurricanes.

There was a 12-yard go-ahead touchdown run late to cap a wild comeback win over Florida in 2003. A game-ending 18-yard touchdown run in overtime to beat Florida State in 2004. A 1-yard touchdown with less than a minute left to rally the Hurricanes past Louisville a month later.

He was fearless. And his son tries to play that same way.

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No. 15 Miami (1-0) is a four-touchdown favorite over Southern Miss (0-1) going into the matchup on Saturday, but that doesn’t faze Golden Eagles running back Frank Gore Jr. whatsoever. Gore Jr. is returning to his hometown, to play his father’s alma mater, and sees it as nothing but a big opportunity.

“We’ll prepare like we do every other game,” Gore Jr. said. “They know we’re not scared of them. We ready. … Everybody knows what time it is. We’re not backing down because we aren’t scared.”

That’s swagger. That’s a Miami football trademark. It’s not hard to figure out where Gore Jr. might have picked up such thinking.

“I know Frank loves Southern Miss like I do,” Golden Eagles coach Will Hall said. “I love Southern Miss. Frank loves Southern Miss. We love this place. We’re trying to build this place. We’re pouring everything we got into it. It’s back home for him and I’m sure he’ll have a bunch of people there. … I’m sure it’s going to mean a lot to him.”

The elder Gore tore both of his ACLs while at Miami, yet still did enough at the school — 1,975 yards, 17 touchdowns in 27 games — to merit enshrinement in the Hurricanes’ Hall of Fame. And another Hall of Fame might await him one day, after he rushed for 16,000 yards in 16 NFL seasons and made the Pro Bowl five times.

Miami coach Mario Cristobal raved about what he sees from Gore Jr., who rushed for 178 yards and two touchdowns, plus threw a 48-yard pass in a four-overtime, 29-27 loss to Liberty in Week 1.

Gore Jr. has been used as a quarterback in Hall’s “Superback” offensive scheme, which the Golden Eagles have had to use often because of injuries or ineffectiveness at quarterback.

Starting QB Ty Keyes was hurt in the first half against Liberty and did not return. His status for the Miami game is uncertain, meaning Gore could get some snaps and a showcase for all of his many skills.

Gore Jr. has six 100-yard rushing games in his college career.

“He’s a stud,” Cristobal said. “First guy rarely brings him down. Very versatile; obviously they use him in all kinds of stuff, back in the wildcat, can chuck the ball around, he’s a good receiver as well. He’s a really dangerous football player, really good football player. We all know who he reminds us of.”

Keyes was 4-of-8 passing for 89 yards and two interceptions in a quarter-plus of action against Liberty. His backup, Trey Lowe, threw an interception on his only pass which led Hall to use Gore Jr. and Antavious Willis in Southern Miss’ version of the wildcat offense.

Keyes was a limited participant in practices early this week, while Lowe worked with the second team. True freshman Zach Wilcke took the first-team reps, the Hattiesburg American reported.

Hall said Wilcke will likely see some snaps at some point, perhaps as soon as this week. Given Southern Miss’ quarterback issues,however, Hall said the Superback formation led by Gore Jr. will remain a featured part of the offense.

“You should expect it some throughout the rest of the year,” Hall told the Hattiesburg American. “It’s just who we are with young quarterbacks, developing them. (It) takes some pressure off them and gives other teams something to prepare for.”

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