Tyler Van Dyke ended the 2021 season winning five of his last six games throwing 20 touchdowns in those games with only three interceptions. With Manny Diaz headed north to Penn State as defensive coordinator, many were high on the Mario Cristobal Era starting in Coral Gables, FL.
Coach Cristobal was entering his second Power 5 head coaching gig with an NFL caliber quarterback at his disposal. In Oregon, he had Justin Herbert the current Los Angeles Chargers starting QB. Now at Miami he has Tyler Van Dyke, a six-foot-four pocket passer who caught fire late in his first year as a starter with Rhett Lashlee calling plays.
Lashlee, now the head coach at SMU, runs a variation of the Air Raid offense. Lashlee runs the football more than a traditionalist like Mike Leach, but he’s inclined to sling out screens, use zone run concepts, and let the receivers find space and QB’s sling the ball into space.
New Miami OC Josh Gattis runs a more Big Ten influenced offense. It’s what Mario Cristobal clearly wants. Tight ends, power and wide zone run concepts, mixed with play-action passing. Lashlee let Van Dyke check plays and tag routes from the line based on pre-snap looks, Gattis seems content at going with what is called in the huddle, often times running the football into eight man boxes (typically a MUST PASS look), or passing into five man boxes (typically a MUST RUN look).
Alex Mirabal has clearly been an upgrade over Garin Justice as the O-Line coach, getting less than half the sacks from the same players (Zion Nelson, John Campbell, Jakai Clark, Jalen Rivers, and DJ Scaife all played a lot under Justice at Miami). Thus far, Josh Gattis hasn’t provided the same spark that Lashlee did to the Miami offense under two different QB’s, and Van Dyke’s mechanics have dipped under Frank Ponce. The receivers aren’t developing, the tight ends look worse, and the running backs are injured.
The offensive line is clearly playing better in pass protection, even with the concepts requiring more time to throw the ball, much like Dan Enos’ offense in 2019. Through Van Dyke’s first four games in ‘21, the O-Line had allowed 13 sacks, through four games in ‘22, he was sacked only six times. In both seasons he had thrown 118 pass attempts through his first four games as a starter.
First four games of 2021 (118 attempts):
69-0 win over Central Connecticut State (FCS)
Completed 90%, three TD’s, 0 INT’s, sacked twice.
28-30 loss to Virginia
Comp. 51.7%, 1 TD : 0 INT’s, sacked four times.
42-45 loss to UNC
Comp. 44.4%, 1 TD: 3 INT’s, sacked three times.
31-30 win over NC State (aka, the coming out party!)
Comp. 75.8%, 4 TD’s : 0 INT’s, sacked four times.
Totals: Van Dyke had throw 9 TD’s, 3 INT’s, sacked 13 times, and was sitting at 2-2
First four games in 2022 (118 attempts)
70-13 win over BCU (FCS)
Comp. 81.3%, 2 TD’s : 0 INT’s, was not sacked.
30-7 win over Southern Miss
Comp. 69%, 1 TD : 1 INT, sacked four times.
9-17 loss to Texas A&M
Comp. 51.2%, 0 TD : 0 INT, was not sacked.
31-45 loss to MTSU (pulled during game)
Comp. 50%, 1 TD : 2 INT’s, sacked two times.
Totals: Throw 4 TD’s, 3 INT’s, sacked 6 times, and is sitting at 2-2
Statistics, however, tell only part of the story of a football game. Let’s look at a cut-up tape I’ve strung together of TV clips from the MTSU loss from this season, and the Pitt win from 2022. I’m focusing solely on Van Dyke and his mechanics.
Clip 1- Well scouted by MTSU, Van Dyke stares down his receiver, no head fake, no look away, nothing. The concept is also garbage. I have no idea why two threats are both so close together on routes into the boundary. That’s either a route blunder by one of them who should’ve vacate that area up the seam or the numbers, or a terrible play call for the situation.
Clip 2- Van Dyke with a late throw to the sideline. It’s his second read so he’s looked off the DB’s. Only real mechanical difference I can see is that he ends clip one with his wrist stiff, clip two with wrist flexion.
Clip 3- MTSU has scouted Van Dyke’s skillset. He’s not a pump fake guy, he doesn’t look DB’s off enough. Thus, once he’s throwing- he’s throwing!
If you can’t get the sack, bat the ball down. That’s a typical DL coaching point, but hardly advice that’s followed. MTSU owned that point. Throw is a little more 3⁄4 than overhand and easy to time up at bat down.
Above- More weight into the front leg from the right clip vs. Pitt and his wrist in flexion vs neutral.
Clip 1- Again, Van Dyke doesn’t look off his first target, he doesn’t pump fake, the timing is just too easy for a defense that’s clearly focused on his low release point and lack of pump fake or looking off receivers as an easy mark for PBU’s.
Above- Van Dyke finishes with his arm at his chest on the follow through on the left (2022), on the right (2021) you can’t even see his throwing arm because he’s whipped through and ‘put the dollar int he pocket.’
Clips of the rollouts- the two rollout clips are telling. In the MTSU game, Van Dyke is falling all over himself with bad technique. Throwing off his back leg, trailing backwards. He misses on an easy throw.
The clip after from Pitt his technique is better, it’s just a dumb throw late across the body and over the middle into multiple defenders.
The final two clips he can get more arm swing and follow through against Pitt because there aren’t players bouncing off of him on his follow through.
Clip 1- The wrist is still neutral vs. flexion which seemed in ‘21 to help his throws land with more speed and accuracy.
Clip 2- Complete but almost a shot-put throw. Elbow is not high enough, IMO. Front leg is like a kickstand with slight bend that straightens as he throws.
On the sacks, Van Dyke shows no eternal clock in the MTSU clip, and tries to escape outside in the Pitt clip when his speed just isn’t there. He needs to climb the pocket, step up and try to find an open ‘rush’ route.
On the play-action slide concepts to the TE, both look good. Those are plays where his arm angle stuff works for his advantage to get around defensive ends.
From the QB Whisperers
I spoke with two coaches who are both former quarterbacks, and who have both coached QB’s at multiple levels, including a future NFL QB and multiple FBS and FCS QB’s between them.
When asked about weight distribution in Van Dyke’s throwing profile...
Coach: A little early on the weight transfer, but he’s ok from a posture standpoint.
When asked about sailing the ball high more often than short-hopping low
Coach: That’s an elbow issue. Elbow under the ball. Consequence of his side arm release.
Coach: (MTSU) disrupted his throwing lanes (by looking to bat the balls down instead of press hard for sacks).
Something to point out is that Van Dyke had multiple follow throughs cut off or shortened by pressure. Above- 53 is pushed directly into the Q’s follow through on this completion. Other times defenders were jumping in his face, directly into him, on his follow through causing Van Dyke to short arm his throws.
Above- No. 22 whiffs on his block and Van Dyke’s follow through turns into a short arm with the defender in his face.
Above- No. 53, the center, is bull rushed directly into Van Dyke and his follow through is cut off and interrupted due to Jakai Clark making contact with the quarterback.
When I asked coach two if Van Dyke’s footwork looked off...
Coach: Ball flight is rarely, if ever, a foot thing. Arm position, shoulder height, and release point are all drivers of (the ball sailing high for Van Dyke).
Coach: For right-handed QB’s, if the ball is high and right- you released it early. If the ball is low and left- you didn’t get to “zero” position with your arm.
Above- Tom Brady get to zero position. Zero position is the natural alignment of the scapula, shoulder and elbow.
Above- Zero position of Darrin Slack and Dub Maddox’s proteges vs. Tyler Van Dyke’s arm angle.
Above- Also look at Brady’s front knee vs. Van Dyke’s. Van Dyke’s front leg is often straight with little to no knee bend. That keeps his hips from coming through with power behind his throws.
Above- In ‘21 vs. Pitt, Van Dyke had A LOT more knee bend on his throws. He had more power, and more hip turn, too.
I’m still frustrated that the coaching staff isn’t adapting and adjusting to what talent they have on the field as a general scheme and game plan, but also in-game. OC Josh Gattis seems content running into 8-man boxes and not letting the QB’s audible or even check pre-snap. That’s not a method for success, even in the nearly dead ACC Coastal.
But Tyler Van Dyke’s technique, his mechanics are off, too. He isn’t throwing with the same form he did in 2021. Something has gotten off- is it his private coaching? Is it Frank Ponce? Is it the lack of (now SMU, but former QB/OC coach) Rhett Lashlee?
That part is beyond my knowledge base as I don’t have practice film to view. But what I do know is that if Van Dyke wants to stay on the field, he needs to clean these issues up or the ball will continue to sail and be off target, and Jake Garcia will get the nod.