Thursday, February 2

Miami benches Van Dyke, goes with Garcia vs. Middle Tennessee

Tyler Van Dyke, once the apparent quarterback savior from the Miami Hurricanes, headed to the bench in the third quarter of a shockingly inept performance against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Saturday in Miami Gardens.

Jake Garcia replaced Van Dyke with 7:55 in the third and the Hurricanes down by three touchdowns — a desperation move for a floundering offense, but perhaps a necessary one.

Van Dyke went just 16 of 32 for 138 yards, one touchdown and one interception before Miami benched him, and one of those interceptions was returned for a touchdown by Middle Tennessee. Garcia briefly sparked the No. 25 Hurricanes off the bench, but even he finished just 10 of 19 for 169 yards in Miami’s 45-31 loss.

The Hurricanes (2-2) never led the Blue Raiders, in large part because of an abysmal start by Van Dyke. The quarterback threw interceptions on his first two passes, letting Middle Tennessee take an early 10-point lead. His only touchdown from him was on a simple swing pass to running back Henry Parrish Jr. and the sophomore’s accuracy was all over the place.

On his first drive off the bench, Garcia connected on a 23-yard pass to star tight end Will Mallory and a 39-yard bomb to wide receiver Key’Shawn Smith, setting up running back Thaddius Franklin Jr. for a 1-yard touchdown run to cut the Blue Raiders’ lead back to 14.

“He provided, certainly, some big plays,” Cristobal said, “threw the ball well, created some opportunities for us to go down there and score.”

Garcia, a redshirt freshman, competed with Van Dyke for the starting job last year after former quarterback D’Eriq King sustained a season-ending shoulder injury, but he got hurt in his debut, too. Van Dyke won the job by default and took off in former offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee’s spread offense, finishing the season with six straight games of at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes — it was the first such run by a quarterback from one of the Power 5 Conferences since Joe Burrow during his Heisman Trophy-winning campaign in 2019.

So far, he’s just 70 of 118 for 809 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in his first season playing for offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. He’s also missing his top two receivers since last year, as well as wide receiver Xavier Restrepo, who still leads Miami in receiving yards despite missing the last two games with a foot injury.

“Scheme change. It’s different. Some things with it are different, obviously,” Cristobal said. “Over 65 percent of his receiving production is gone and then an injury to Xavier is having us get all the guys that are working hard to get better, so we’ve got to do a better job setting him up for success and moving things offensively that allow us to have a more successful, more productive passing game.”

Garcia, however, is one of the best quarterback recruits to ever sign with Miami — he was the No. 48 overall prospect in the Class of 2020, according to the 247Sports composite rankings — and the Hurricanes decided to give him his first real shot at game action to try to lead a comeback at Hard Rock Stadium.

This story was originally published September 24, 2022 6:17 PM.

David Wilson, a Maryland native, is the Miami Herald’s utility man for sports coverage.

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