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Enter QB Tyler Van Dyke: Recent Examples of Backup Quarterbacks Emerging Should Give Canes Some Reason for Optimism

In Light of the Devastating D’Eriq King News, TVD Takes the Helm. Canes Will Find Out if They Have a Diamond in the Rough

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Virginia v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

On Monday morning, Miami head coach Manny Diaz announced that redshirt senior quarterback, D’Eriq King, would need surgery on his shoulder, which in all likelihood puts an end to his season.

King, who is a captain and has been an instrumental leader both on and off the field for not only the Canes, but also for the NCAA generally by anchoring the NIL movement, will be sorely missed as the 2021 season progresses. From day one, the dual-threat QB has had electric moments the past two seasons and handled everything at a first class level. This included leading the Canes to an 8-3 record in 2020 a year after back-to-back middling seasons, rehabbing a serious knee injury suffered in the bowl game to be ready for week one, and most recently playing through the shoulder injury against Michigan State.

King also made every effort to get back onto the field this season, but told Manny Navarro of The Athletic that, after the Spartans game, he “chose to be optimistic and try to rehab and get back after getting several opinions and they [doctors] made it clear that if I chose to come back, it’s not likely I would make it through a game.”

King will obviously be missed as he has displayed an unrivaled character in the locker room as a worker/leader who led by example, as well as on the field with a dynamic talent in the spread offense. If his outspoken ability to spearhead the NIL initiative is any indication of his prowess, King will succeed whether that be at the professional football level or in whatever path he decides. One option could include returning for a seventh season via a medical redshirt, which he and Diaz are yet to discuss as of early Monday afternoon. Regardless, all at the U wish him an expeditious recovery similar to his admirable knee injury recovery. As offensive coordinator, Rhett Lashlee, said today, “he’s everything that’s right about college football.”

“It’s Tyler Van Dyke’s team,” Coach Manny Diaz.

For the Canes’ faithful, the show must go on and the next man up needs to take the helm at quarterback. While it seemed like true freshman, Jake Garcia, may be able to compete for the backup job, it was also announced on Monday that Garcia would be out until at least November with an ankle injury.

Thus, enter second-year freshman, Tyler Van Dyke, who Diaz announced would be QB1 and that Miami is “Tyler Van Dyke’s team.” While the Canes got a preview of Van Dyke against the Virginia Cavaliers last week, “TVD” will now be relied on for the remainder of the season with Peyton Matocha or Ryan Rizk set to serve as the backup.

Even though many fans are ready to throw in the towel for the 2021 season, those on the field will always play to win the game. And as the Canes are now Van Dyke’s team, college football fans need look no further than this past weekend when Oklahoma’s true freshman, Caleb Williams, anchored a monster comeback against Texas in relief duty for once-Heisman favorite, Spencer Rattler.

Contrary to Van Dyke, Williams entered the college stage as one of the most highly touted players in the nation, and the latest pinnacle quarterback to join the Sooners’ long lineage of signal-callers (class of 2021 seventh-best recruit in nation and second-best quarterback). Williams filled in for Rattler, who was benched on Saturday, after sixth-ranked Oklahoma fell behind the Longhorns 28-7. Williams then led the massive comeback in a 55-48 thrilling Red River Rivalry.

Another team within Florida, the Gators, are chomping at the bit for the arrival of uber-talented freshman quarterback, Anthony Richardson, who is waiting in the wings of their current QB1 and redshirt Junior, Emory Jones. The juxtaposition of the Oklahoma and Florida situations indicates that an opportunity to glimpse into the future does not always become readily available. And that is exactly the silver lining for Van Dyke and the Canes.

The Connecticut native, Van Dyke, is no slouch as he was a four-star product and the number 222 overall recruit in according to the 247Sports Composite in 2020 (No. seven pro-style passer). Van Dyke brings a different pocket presence than King’s dual-threat mobility, but he can pull it down and scamper when necessary, which he did against UVA as he barreled down the field on a 24-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

In that Thursday night matchup, Van Dyke threw 15-for-29 for 203 yards and a passing score. This came after a slow start in his first extended live FBS action, where he started the game throwing 1-for-6 for five yards passing (and five completions in first 17 attempts). He found his bearings and was instrumental in a near comeback as he developed rapport with wide receivers Charleston Rambo and Mike Harley as the game progressed completing 10 of his final 12 pass attempts. Van Dyke can display pinpoint accuracy, especially in the intermediate routes.

The previous week against FCS-opponent CCSU, Van Dyke was nearly perfect as he went 10-for-11 for 270 yards and three touchdowns. Van Dyke was the highest graded freshman quarterback in week four according to PFF at 87.9.

The sample size for Van Dyke is relatively small right now, but there is hope he can emerge as a solid contributor to an offense that needs some momentum in the coming weeks as the team attempts to rally around Van Dyke. There is a glimmer of hope for Miami in what has become a wide open ACC Coastal division which starts against a struggling UNC (3-3, 2-3) in Chapel Hill this Saturday, and then at home against a tough No. 22 NC State (4-1, 1-0).

It would be somewhat unfair to expect a Caleb Williams-type emergence from Van Dyke this season. Similarly, the odds of Van Dyke replacing King similar to the way Tua Tagovailoa did for Jalen Hurts in the 2018 National Championship game seem low (Tua marched Alabama back from 13-0 against Georgia en route to a 26-23 victory).

The low expectation situation for Van Dyke could be preferred as some thrive with initial limited pressure, as opposed to being thrown into the fire. On the other side of the token, pressure creates diamonds and Miami fans will certainly make their standards evident. In the coming weeks, the Canes will have a very clear idea as to whether they have a diamond in the rough in Van Dyke.