The 2021 Miami Hurricanes did not meet expectations in a very weak ACC, but their season wasn’t a total loss. The Hurricanes seemed to figure out they wanted to move on from Manny Diaz sooner rather than later. Miami would fire the defensive-minded head coach after spending three seasons with the team, leading them to a 21-15 record. Rhett Ashlee has been the Hurricane’s offensive coordinator over the past two years. He left to be the head coach at Southern Methodist University.
The Miami Hurricanes wasted little time naming their next head coach. The former Oregon Ducks head coach, Mario Cristobal, returned home to Miami, where he played for the Hurricanes. Cristobal is arguably the biggest hire in the program’s history. His ability to recruit is among the best in all of college football. The Miami native recruited some very talented teams at the University of Oregon. He leaves with a 35-13 record and won Pac-12 championships in 2019 and 2020.
Cristobal has made his name as a top recruiter across the college football landscape. The Miami Hurricanes have finally decided that bringing top talent to Coral Gables is the next step to getting the program back to the prestige it once had. Although the Hurricanes are yet to identify who the new offensive play-caller will be, they will have a bright young star at QB in Tyler Van Dyke to build around.
Van Dyke is a native of Glastonbury, CT, where he excelled in baseball and football at Suffield Academy. He led his high school team to an undefeated season in 2019. Van Dyke was the New England Prep Player of the Year in 2019. The pro-style QB was a four-star recruit with a 247sports composite score of 0.9173. He chose Miami over offers from teams such as Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse.
Van Dyke is listed at 6’4” and 224 lbs. He plays the QB position like you would expect a player who is used to thriving under pressure. Van Dyke’s experience as a baseball pitcher in high school shows in his play; he played some of his best football in close games. The top two things that stand out when watching TVD throw the football are his accuracy on tight throws and his ability to deliver an absolute dime on deep throws. These two things are not easily coachable for a young QB. Thankfully for the Hurricane’s their young QB seems to have these already in his repertoire.
The young Hurricanes QB had only seven starts under his belt as a freshman in 2021. He was forced into action after a season-ending injury to starting QB D’Eriq King. Miami’s plan seemed to be to see what they have in freshman QB TVD and true freshman Jake Garcia. After having a nagging injury setback, Garcia was forced to sit out, and the Tyler Van Dyke era began for Hurricanes fans.
Van Dyke would lose his first ACC start at North Carolina in a hostile environment. He would throw three interceptions in that game to just one touchdown. He also posted his worst pass efficiency (87.7) game. Van Dyke showed Miami fans what they expected to see in a four-star recruit following that loss. He would throw 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions the rest of the season. He would only lose one start the rest of the year. Van Dyke’s best performance was in a road win over the eventual ACC Champion Pittsburgh Panthers.
The accolades for the young Miami QB came in plenty after the 2021 season. Van Dyke would be named the ACC Rookie and ACC Offensive Player of the Year. He was also named the ACC Rookie of the Week five times over his seven conference starts. Once he took the offense’s reins, the thought of Garcia getting some reps in was an afterthought for the Miami Hurricanes. Van Dyke led the Hurricanes to a top 10 passing offense despite not playing the entire year.
Van Dyke has already put himself in rare company after his freshman season. His six straight games of 300+ pass yards and 3+ touchdowns have him drawing comparisons to Joe Burrow’s record-setting 2019 season. While it’s far too early to put TVD on that elite tier just yet, we do have to be impressed. The sky is the limit for the young Hurricanes signal-caller. The Miami Hurricanes were forced to cancel their Bowl game, leaving TVD just 69 yards short of a 3,000-yard season. We will have to wait until 2022 to see if he can match Burrow’s record of 7 straight 300 yards and three touchdown streak. 247sports has named TVD the 22nd best QB entering the 2022 season. This has to excite Hurricanes fans and Devy league managers alike.
Into the Unknown
There’s zero doubt Miami Hurricanes fans (myself included) are beyond excited to get the Cristobal era started in Coral Gables. However, the unknown of what the offense will look like after one of their best years in recent memory is unsettling. The Hurricanes have yet to name an offensive coordinator. However, they have been linked to a few names (Joe Brady, Kendal Briles, and Josh Gattis). The Hurricanes offense is unlikely to pick up right where they left off after losing Ashlee. There are legitimate concerns with Cristobal coaching a talented passer. Some analysts believe the concept of the Oregon offense hurt Justin Herbert’s development during his time there.
Whoever takes over as the Miami offensive coordinator will be in a good position with a young QB who posted a 62% completion percentage while also finishing inside the top 10 in the ACC in attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns, and interceptions. Ashlee’s offense in 2021 finished in the top 25 in points per game (23rd) and total offense (25th). Devy managers can only hope that Miami explores another coach who runs a similar uptempo offense to what he ran while serving as the Hurricanes offensive coordinator.
We know Cristobal has brought with him, at the very least, his offensive line coach Alex Mirabal. He has offered out to both the RB and WR coaches he had under him at Oregon. During the Herbert years at Oregon, Cristobal’s offenses finished top 25 in points per game from 2017 – 2019.
The Returning Players
We may not know who will be calling the plays for TVD and the Miami offense. However, we have a good read on who will be the skill position players. The Miami Hurricanes will return a good amount of starters from an offense that finished in the top 25 in the country. Let’s look at who will be taking the field for the Hurricanes in 2022 to help out their young star quarterback.
Jaylon Knighton – The freshman RB was a nice surprise for devy managers and the Hurricanes offense. Knighton averaged 3.9 yards per attempt while scoring eight rushing touchdowns. Knighton showed off his receiving skills in 2021, the freshman hauled in 20 passes for 280 yards and three scores. It will be surprising if we don’t see Knighton lead the way for the Hurricanes again in 2022. He finished top 10 in the ACC in rushing attempts, rushing touchdowns, and touchdowns from scrimmage.
Don Chaney Jr. – It was a frustrating season for Chaney in 2021, he suffered a season-ending injury early in the season. The Miami, Florida native was a four-star recruit in the 2020 class. He has a chance to develop into an explosive playmaker. Devy managers should be patient with the young RB. He will find his way back from injury. Once he’s given a chance to show himself hopefully he can prove why Miami was excited to add him to their backfield.
Thad Franklin – The power back of the Miami backfield. He brings a nasty attitude as a runner. Franklin is the perfect back for this Miami offense to grind out games late in the fourth quarter. I don’t see a ton of potential for Franklin at the next level just yet. He is a great asset to have for a young QB like Van Dyke who will surely benefit from a strong running game. Franklin only appeared in five games last season but he was able to score two touchdowns on just 23 attempts while averaging 7.9 yards per attempt.
Key’Shawn Smith – The freshman WR new-look developed a nice rapport with Tyler Van Dyke.The San Diego native was able to haul in all three of his touchdown receptions. All those came in ACC play with TVD as his quarterback. Smith will likely play outside for the Hurricanes next season. Hopefully, his numbers continue to improve as they did from 2020 to 2021.
Romello Brinson – The highest upside of the current outside wide receivers on the Miami roster. Brinson was only able to appear in four games in 2021, he finished with seven receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown. Born and raised in Miami, Brinson has all the tools to succeed for the Miami Hurricanes, his development with TVD will go a long way to determining just how good he can be in 20222 and beyond.
Xavier Restrepo – If the Miami offense is going to be anywhere near as good as they were in 2021 then Xavier Restrepo will be a big part of that. Restrepo averaged 15.5 yards per reception and scored two touchdowns in 12 games last season. The best slot receiver for the Hurricanes a year ago stepped up huge in a road win against Pittsburgh late in the season. He notched career highs in receptions (7) and yards (89). Restrepo has drawn comparisons to former Hurricane Braxton Berrios. He should remain to be a reliable target for TVD and the new-look Miami offense next season.
The Miami offense is very young at WR, and there have been rumors that they are possibly looking to bring in a veteran WR through the transfer portal. They were successful doing this with Charleston Rambo a season ago. The Hurricanes surely have the depth, but if one of their young players doesn’t break out, they could be searching for answers at WR. The lack of a proven threat at WR could hurt Tyler Van Dyke’s development. Keep an eye out for Brashard Smith, Jacolby George, and Michael Redding III. One of these players will need to step up if Miami chooses not to bring in a veteran WR.
Will Mallory – The return of Will Mallory for his senior season will be a big boost for Van Dyke. Mallory improved his games played, receptions, and yards for the third straight season in 2021. Van Dyke was a big boost to Mallory’s production; he was able to record 24 of his 30 receptions on the season and all four of his touchdown receptions in games that TVD started. There should be little doubt that Mallory will be one of the most trusted pass catchers for the Hurricanes quarterback in 2022.
Elijah Arroyo – A native of Frisco, Texas who was a four-star recruit in the 2021 class. Arroyo hauled in five receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown during his freshman season. The young TE is a talented route runner who possesses very good ball skills and reminds Hurricanes fans of 2021 fifth-round NFL Draft Pick Brevin Jordan. Arroyo has a high ceiling and if TVD improves it’s likely so will Arroyo’s numbers.
Jaleel Skinner – Cristobal made an early splash by flipping 2022 four-star recruit Skinner from Alabama to Miami. The fact that Mallory and Arroyo are both still on campus entering the 2022 season will make it less likely that Skinner has much of an impact as a freshman. If Miami doesn’t choose to redshirt Skinner he is just another potential weapon for TVD.
There’s reason to be excited for next season as a devy manager with Van Dyke leading the new-look Miami offense. It will take time to adjust to a new scheme and coaching philosophy. The 2021 season should give you hope that TVD can figure it out. This is just the start of the Cristobal era in South Florida. We need to take into account his history as a recruiter. It’s a good bet that over the next few seasons, the level of talent coming to play football at Miami will only increase. This is an excellent sign for TVD or whoever is playing QB for the Hurricanes.