Mario’s #1 Slurper
- Feb 27, 2018
Miami has its quarterback of the future
Van Dyke has thrown for 751 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception over the past two weeks -- both Miami victories.
When Miami lost D'Eriq King for the season with a shoulder injury, the situation looked bleak. But if there is any silver lining to a season that has not gone quite as expected, it is this: The Hurricanes seem to have found their quarterback of the future.
Since taking over for King, Tyler Van Dyke has coolly led the Hurricanes' offense with a confidence that has become increasingly contagious. On Saturday, he delivered his best performance yet in a 38-34 upset over Pittsburgh, throwing for 426 yards and three touchdowns.
"The guy walks off the field after throwing a touchdown pass like it's just a walk in the park," coach Manny Diaz said afterward. "He's got such a cool demeanor. That was a rough environment. Pitt, they take pride in making life hard on opposing quarterbacks and to be able to hang 38 points on them and throw for 426, that's pretty special."
In these past two wins over ranked opponents, Van Dyke is completing over 75% of his passes and has thrown for a combined 751 yards, seven touchdowns and only thrown one interception. Not bad for a quarterback who went into preseason camp behind King and splitting reps with fellow freshman Jake Garcia, projected by some to have the greater upside of the two.
But Garcia is hurt too, leaving the spotlight to Van Dyke -- and he has completely taken advantage. We saw glimpses in his first two starts against ACC opponents, as he put together impressive second-half performances against both Virginia and North Carolina in heartbreakingly close losses. Diaz spoke about the need for Van Dyke to play with more confidence from kickoff forward.
Maybe it helped that Van Dyke talked a little trash the week leading up to NC State, when he said he was not too worried about the ranked Wolfpack because Miami had beaten them the previous year.
Cocky? Sure. Bulletin board material? Absolutely. But Miami has been missing that type of swag, and Diaz chose to embrace those words and use it as a rallying cry for his team. The confidence has clearly rubbed off. Despite the 2-4 start, Miami has not given up on the season and is playing harder than ever. Younger players are making plays to help Van Dyke, including running back Jaylan Knighton and receivers Key'Shawn Smith and Xavier Restrepo.
Two weeks ago, bowl eligibility seemed out of reach and questions persisted about Diaz and whether he would keep his job. Those questions still linger, but suddenly it feels as if Miami could win out and salvage an 8-4 record -- nearly the same as one year ago. The Hurricanes have zero games left against teams with winning records.
Look at those four losses: Alabama and Michigan State are a combined 15-1. They lost to Virginia and North Carolina by a combined five points. When seen through that prism -- and the youth movement that has shown the pieces are in place to build around -- there is reason for optimism. That's why the upcoming month is so important not only for Miami, but also for Diaz. -- Andrea Adelson