A few days after Tyler Van Dyke criticized the home atmosphere at Hard Rock Stadium, he and the Miami Hurricanes let off a stink bomb, which left their fans with fewer reasons to root for The U in person. Their 45-31 loss to Middle Tennessee State began with Van Dyke hurling up picks on his first two throws before he was benched in the third quarter, to the sound of raucous applause not seen since Spencer Rattler got the hook at Oklahoma last year.
At the beginning of September, Van Dyke, like Florida’s Anthony Richardson, was being discussed as one of college football’s rising up-and-comers. He was also billed as the foundation of The U’s reconstruction plan under first-year coach Mario Cristobal. Since the competition has gotten stiffer, the Hurricanes’ air attack has been grounded on the tarmac. They’re barely top 50 in passing yards per game and Van Dyke, who was being gassed up all offseason, hasn’t solidified himself as a top 5 ACC passer. Single game struggles could be rushed off, but Van Dyke barely eclipsed 200 yards and a 50 percent completion rate against Texas A&M last weekend and failed to lead the offense into the endzone during their 17-9 loss.
The U’s early season woes can worsen heading into the ACC portion of their schedule, which kicks off with UNC in two weeks, and Van Dyke may be heading towards a freefall. In the ACC hierarchy, he’s trending downwards while DJ Uiagalelei, Sam Hartman, Drake Maye, and Devin Leary are surging.
Miami isn’t alone in its struggle with getting fans to travel to its off-campus NFL stadium in a city where college students have bountiful options for how to spend their time. USC’s Lincoln Riley and Mario Williams have hit the ground running, despite running over a pothole against Oregon State. Unlike Williams, Van Dyke may not have the juice, yet, to carry a program.
The overall talent at The U is unremarkable, especially at receiver. Record-setting receivers Charleston Rambo and Mike Harley moved on to the NFL. Against Texas A&M, Van Dyke lost receiver Xavier Restrepo to a foot injury. He ultimately made the throw on fourth down that he needed to keep their final drive alive, but receiver Brashard Smith dropped the receiving corp’s seventh pass of the game.
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In relief of Van Dyke against Middle Tennessee State, Hurricanes backup Jake Garcia flourished in comparison. New offensive coordinator Josh Gattis’ offense relies on the deep passing game. On Saturday, Garcia’s average depth of target on throws were double Van Dyke’s, who threw behind the line of scrimmage on over 60 percent of his throws according to Pro Football Focus.
Overall, Van Dyke has struggled to adapt to the regime change more than anything. Cristobal did not recruit Van Dyke. Under previous offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s up-tempo spread offense, Van Dyke was the commander of a quick-strike explosive passing attack. Charleston Rambo set the school’s single-season reception and receiving yardage record while Van Dyke was responsible for a 25:6 touchdown-interception ratio in 10 starts.
Piling on Van Dyke being benched so early on against an inferior opponent they were favored over by 25 ½ points might seem reactionary, but this is about more than Van Dyke. Van Dyke’s benching appears to have been a temporary move, but one that could have repercussions down the road. Based on critical comments Van Dyke made to Jordan Palmer about The U, he doesn’t even sound happy playing there.
In this day and age of the transfer portal, Van Dyke will have options outside of Coral Gables if the weapons don’t formulate around him soon. Van Dyke’s former coordinator, Lashlee, is now the offensive coordinator at SMU, which should be in the market for a quarterback in 2022, boasts a top-10 passing offense and they play inside an on-campus stadium. Van Dyke wouldn’t have to question the passion of fans in Texas, either. If Van Dyke’s fortunes don’t turn at Miami, he may be a candidate for 2023’s top transfer portal signal caller.