The Miami Hurricanes may have heartbreakingly lost to the Virginia Cavaliers on Thursday night, but there were still some positives that the Canes and their fan base could take away from the game if the team looks for consistency in 2021.
One of the lights that shone the brightest at Hard Rock Stadium was Tyler Van Dyke. After sharing time on the grid with freshman Jake Garcia on Miami’s 69-0 route across Central Connecticut State, the second-string quarterback played his first full game for the Hurricanes in the continued absence of D’Eriq King who has now missed two full games with a shoulder injury.
Van Dyke seemed uncomfortable early in the game but quickly calmed down and looked confident as he led the offensive for the canes in crunch time.
“I started slowly and it was really quick out there. I came back much more confident in the second half and saw things better, ”said Van Dyke.
From the goals, the freshman wasn’t expected to replicate the success he had against the Blue Devils last week – in which he made 11 of his 14 passes, threw 147 yards and scored two touchdowns – against a power five team in Virginia.
However, after completing five of his first 17 passes early in the game, he got into the rhythm of the second half and completed 10 of his last 12 passes in the game.
Below is a breakdown of Van Dyke’s true first impressions for the Hurricanes at the quarterback, including what went right and wrong for the sophomore from Glastonbury, Connecticut.
The game plan
On the opening run, offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee called run-pass options and quick easy throws for Van Dyke to get his young quarterback at an early rhythm against a much more competent opponent than the week before.
During the first three drives of the game, Van Dyke and Lashlee did not push the ball into the field and quick, easy completions were the priority.
However, the game book began to open up for Van Dyke as the game progressed. On the fourth trip, Lashlee called Plays to get Van Dyke out of the bag, which helped the newbie find his feet and move around in and around the bag.
On the fifth ride, freshman running back Jaylan Knighton and senior Cam’Ron Harris saw a lot more carries. This forced Virginia’s defense to load the box, giving Van Dyke more man-marking matches on the outsides. He was able to instantly push the ball down and find his receivers for long distance games.
After the fifth ride, Van Dyke looked so comfortable that Lashlee gave him the go-ahead for a variety of calls. Lashlee chose play-action passes, run-pass options, quick throws on his first read, and even deep drops for Van Dyke to show his arm.
The Hurricanes also succeeded when they got faster, surprising the Cavaliers several times, and allowing them to make quick throws for chunk wins.
“I have to acknowledge the offense. They really stopped me when things weren’t going so well, ”said Van Dyke. “Boys did plays for me. Mike Harley, Cam’Ron Harris ran the ball really well, so did Charleston Rambo. I’m just really proud of all these guys. “
Room for improvement
It would have been brutally unfair to expect Van Dyke to play flawlessly when he first started his career against a Power Five team.
The most noticeable problem with Van Dyke’s performance was his inability to make progress when under pressure. As the game progressed, his pocket awareness improved, which enabled him to keep his eyes on the field and go through his reading sessions.
On Miami’s final touchdown drive, Van Dyke took a deep drop and tried to take a shot. He struggled to break away from his primary reading and was fired for a five meter loss.
As Van Dyke settled in with each move, he tended to miss high throws if he was thrown off course early. On Miami’s second drive, he missed Xavier Restrepo for the team’s second three in a row. It is always important to monitor a quarterback’s misses as high throws can often result in loss of the ball. This could have been a combination of defensive pressure and nervousness early on, however, as he was extremely efficient with his passes deep into the game.
The positive findings
In the further course of the game Van Dyke showed an enormous balance, accuracy with intermediate throws, arm strength and pocket awareness.
One of his most important pieces of the evening came on the last voyage of the hurricane. In 3rd and 14th place on their own 34-yard line, Miami needed a first down to extend the game. If not, it was game over.
Van Dyke had plenty of time and delivered a strong dart down the middle for Rambo for 16 yards. Rambo was well covered by his husband and a defender lurked over the middle. Van Dyke put the ball on Rambo’s number and transformed the game.
While not known for his mobility, Van Dyke has shown what his legs can do too. On the previous ride, Van Dyke was washed out of his pocket in 3rd and 10th place on the University of Virginia (UVA) 24-yard line. After rolling to the right, he noticed that all linebackers and defensive backs were clear with Miami’s receivers on the left side of the field. Well beyond the line of scrimmage, Van Dyke sank the ball and ran into the corner of the end zone to put Miami on two points on Virginia.
The young quarterback also demonstrated his ability to throw outside the numbers. The canes were faced with a third and seven at the 16-yard line from UVA. Mike Harley was cornering and Van Dyke fitted his pass perfectly between the defenders and over the sideline. It was an extremely impressive throw for Van Dyke as he had to worry about running out of space while stretching it over the defender.
Aside from his passing skills, he showed great pocket awareness, although he was released several times. On the fifth drive of the game, he felt the bag collapse around him and what felt like a safe sack turned into Van Dyke stepping into the bag, pumping, and climbing six yards down the middle.
Though it was a disappointing loss for the Hurricanes on Thursday night, Tyler Van Dyke showed he has the potential to be that team’s future after the D’Eriq King era draws to a close at the end of this season.
With further training and experience, he could become a threat to the rest of college football and has proven that he is ready to improve his game against a talented opponent.
Van Dyke will get his next chance to snap shots for Miami on October 16, when the Canes travel to Durham, North Carolina to take on the UNC Tar Heels.