Hurricanes believe Tyler Van Dyke is ‘just scratching the surface’ after strong start

Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke said the “icing on the cake” of the Hurricanes’ 48-33 victory over Texas A&M came late in the game. Miami led 41-33 with about five minutes remaining. If they could run down the clock, they would pick up a signature win.

Instead of just running the ball to drain time, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson dialed up a passing play. Van Dyke hit wide receiver Jacolby George near the sideline. George dodged two Aggies defenders and sprinted the last of the 64 yards to the end zone, putting the final nail in the coffin for Texas A&M’s chances.

“I think he calls plays at the perfect moments,” Van Dyke said. “He knows when to take shots in situations, right when we cross the 50. I like his aggressiveness late in the game on that third down, calling that shot to Jacolby. I just like the aggressive play calls. You never want to get too comfortable, hand the ball off and try to run the clock out and then end up getting three-and-out, punting the ball away. … I liked the aggressiveness and the play call by him just to ice the game a little bit.”

Expect those aggressive play calls to continue; Dawson said aggression is a hallmark of his offenses, and Van Dyke is enjoying it.

“When you get conservative, you get beat,” Dawson said. “So we’re not going to do that. That’s just not how I was raised, coaching. That’s not how coach (Mario) Cristobal wants to be.”

The aggression showed on a few deep-pass attempts on Saturday. In addition to the 64-yard touchdown to George, Van Dyke threw a 52-yard touchdown to Isaiah Horton. Miami also drove down the field with several good passes late in the first half to take the lead for the first time.

“I have 100 percent trust in every single one of my receivers that go out there,” Van Dyke said. “You guys can see the deep threat we have. Anybody on the team in the receiver room can do that, not only (Horton), not only Jacolby. We haven’t even hit a deep one to Colbie Young yet. Tyler Harrell has the capability to do that. So many other guys.”

Through the first two games, Van Dyke has excelled in Dawson’s offense. He has completed 73 percent of his passes (38 for 52) for 575 yards, throwing six touchdowns with one interception. Pro Football Focus gives him an 84.4 passing grade, which is 18th in the nation among quarterbacks with at least 50 drop-backs.

Van Dyke showed his comfort in the offense against the Aggies, throwing a career-high five touchdowns in the win. He completed 21 of 30 passes (which includes three wide-receiver drops) for 374 yards.

“He had a clear command of where everybody was,” Dawson said. “His timing, the ball going to the right guy. It just felt like he was in complete control of everything.”

Pro Football Focus gave Van Dyke an 83.1 passing grade in the victory, and he was named the ACC Quarterback of the Week. He typically had time to throw as UM’s offensive line limited Texas A&M to two sacks and 12 total pressures on 54 drop-backs.

When the Aggies’ defense did get in his face, Van Dyke responded with solid throws, sometimes side-arming the ball to get his pass around defenders. Van Dyke completed 5 of 9 passes when under pressure, and Pro Football Focus gave him a 78 grade on those throws.

“He was just so decisive,” Cristobal said. “That ball was out. The field, he just read it so quickly, and his throws were as accurate as you an have them be. You saw the throws he had to negotiate and get out in a manner where the ball wouldn’t get batted. He avoided negative plays, as well. Gave the guys chances to make a play. There wasn’t much pressure — credit to the guys up front — but when there was, he got it out and he got it out to the right person in the right spot, put us in the right runs as well when he had the opportunity to do so even though we had a pass called. He did a phenomenal job.”

After a tough 2022 season where the Hurricanes quarterback struggled at the start of the year and suffered a season-derailing injury midway through the year, Van Dyke’s return to form early this season makes Cristobal confident in his quarterback’s ability to get even better.

“We do feel he’s just scratching the surface,” Cristobal said. “He was comfortable, he was excited. And a confident, urgent, on-point, just energetic Tyler Van Dyke, he’s just one of a kind.