The Miami Hurricanes have a tough decision this Saturday when they travel to Tallahassee to take on the fourth-ranked Florida State Seminoles: Who should start at quarterback?
The ‘Canes have three realistic options. They can go with the struggling starter in fourth-year junior Tyler Van Dyke, a true freshman with only a single game of starting experience in Emory Williams, or their former four-star sophomore Jaccuri Brown, who hasn’t seen the field yet this year.
Miami head coach Mario Cristobal has yet to give any updates on who the starter against FSU may be. “From a game-planning standpoint and a team dynamic standpoint, I wouldn’t use this form to discuss a personal move at that position because it affects so many different things,” said Cristobal at his presser on Monday. “What I will say is that we are always competing at every position. We are always assessing, and we are always making the decisions that give us the best chance to win.”
So, what QB gives the Hurricanes the best chance to win on Saturday afternoon?
This season, Van Dyke has been the team’s starting quarterback for every game except one. In those games, Miami is 4-3. Van Dyke looked like a rockstar in his first four games of the season. The Connecticut native amassed over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns while only throwing one interception. Since the meltdown against Georgia Tech, Van Dyke’s play has been less than inspiring. Ten interceptions in the last three games, all in similarly underthrown manners, leave fans and coaches concerned. This is arguably Van Dyke’s worst stretch of his career, heading into arguably the biggest game of his career.
In Williams’s only game starting, he collected 151 yards passing with one interception and one touchdown. The Florida native completed 73% of his passes while throwing it 33 times. This was in a challenging game at home against an excellent Clemson defense. The playbook limited Willaims, as Dawson called, a plethora of short screen and intermediate routes Williams could execute. Overall, Williams looked solid in his only non-garbage time play this season. Not enough to demand a starting role, but enough to instill confidence in him as a backup.
We have not seen any game action from Brown so far this season. Brown did get into some games last season, though. As a freshman, Brown threw the ball 45 times for 230 yards. While also tossing three touchdowns to go along with three interceptions. It’s not the prettiest stat line, but it did include a game against Georgia Tech where Brown was 14 of 19 for 136 yards and three scores. Undoubtedly, Brown is the most athletic quarterback that the ‘Canes have, but also the one they seem to trust the least.
Miami’s offensive coordinator, Shannon Dawson, says he wants consistency from all three of Miami’s quarterbacks. “Consistency,” said Dawson. “The same thing every week.”
At this point, Miami has yet to have an excellent answer for what to do at the quarterback position. In the past few weeks, the only things consistent about Van Dyke’s game is that he’s been injured and inaccurate. Williams flashed some ability to get the job done but still is just a freshman. Brown is a wildcard at this point. Could he lead the ‘Canes to glory? Yes. Could he also show the ‘Canes to a self-sabotaging demise? Yes.
Someone has to be the starter against the Seminoles. So who is it going to be?
The case for Van Dyke: The ‘Canes have been ride or die with Van Dyke all year. Van Dyke has played well and played poorly. As of late, it’s been poorer than usual, but he’s also the most experienced player they have in their QB room. Van Dyke has shown he has the skills to lead his team to victory. The struggling quarterback may not be playing the best right now, but he’d have an opportunity to make up for all of it to topple the Seminoles at home.
The case for Williams: The freshman looked composed as a starter in a prime-time game at home. While he was limited by his playbook for most of the night, he was efficient and accurate when dealing. Williams guided his team to victory against a tough Clemson team. The Florida native was not the reason the ‘Canes lost that game, but not quite why they won.
The case for Brown: Brown’s chances to start are near the chance of snowfall in Tallahassee on Saturday. That does not mean that the choice doesn’t garner some attention. Brown has a skillset that would bring a different dimension to the ‘canes offense. Brown’s skills with the ball in his hands should not go unnoticed. The Georgia native could bring an element that no team would have been able to scout against. If the ‘Canes want to roll into the heart of Seminole country and surprise them, Brown should be under center come game time.
The Verdict: There is no way that van Dyke does not start against the Seminoles unless he’s not medically cleared to play. Van Dyke is their leader, and while he has not played well as of late, he’s shown he can do it in big games. Emory Williams is far too green to be asked to hold up against 80,000 screaming Seminole fans in one of the most important games of the year. If the Miami coaching staff did not trust Brown to play against Clemson at home, they wouldn’t trust him to play against the Seminoles on the road. It would be exciting, but sort of in the way that a horror movie is exciting.
No matter who is under center when the ‘Canes take the field on Saturday, it will be complicated to come out of Doak Campbell Stadium with a victory. The Florida St. offense is scary, and they will score a lot. Miami will likely need to go score-for-score with them to stay in the game. Van Dyke gives the ‘Canes the best chance to do that.
While he’s seen better days, he’s still the best option for Miami to sail the proverbial ‘Canes ship into stormy Seminole waters. Miami’s fate will be determined by just how well Van Dyke performs. You know what they say: the captain often goes down with his ship.