Tyler Van Dyke

Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke will be the Cane’s starter.

Van Dyke made both the Manning Award Watch List and the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) National Performer of the Year Trophy Watch Lists. A 6-foot-4, 224-pound third-year sophomore, Van Dyke was previously selected to the watch lists for the Davey O’Brien Award, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Award. 

Josh Gattis is the new Miami Offensive Coordinator. Gattis was the 2021 Broyles Award recipient. The honor is bestowed to the assistant coach that the Broyles committee votes as the best among the 1,300 assistants at the 130 FBS schools. He comes to Coral Gables after three years at the University of Michigan.

Last year Miami ran an up tempo RPO (run pass option) offense.

Gattis has installed a more physical pro type offense that will employ 11 or 12 (11is 1 RB,1 TE and 3 WR, 12 is a 1 RB, 2 WR, 2TE) personnel sets.

Quarterbacks—

Tyler Van Dyke will be the starter. Coming off a 25 TD with only 6 INTs in his nine starts last year Van Dyke is widely considered a 2023 NFL first round draft pick.

Jake Garcia is the primary backup and it’s not a great drop off.

Garcia would likely start for half the Power Five schools.True Freshman Jacurri Brown is talented and might see the field for some situational plays.

Running Backs—

Entering fall camp the running back group looked as solid as the QBs with five starter level talents competing for snaps. With freshman sensation TreVonte’ Citizen out for the year with an undisclosed injury and Homestead’s Don Chaney Jr. out for a few weeks, the group was down to three scholarship players opening this weeks practice.

As of today, Tuesday, as I’m penning this piece, the Canes are down to two healthy RBs as last year’s leading rusher Jaylan Knighton was not practicing today. Ole Miss transfer Henry Parrish a 5’10” 190 lb rugged speedster and Thad Franklin a 6’0” 240 lb bruiser are the two standing. Walk-on Devon Perry who played at Richmond and WR Brashard Smith are possibly fill-ins. The hope is that Knighton’s setback is temporary and Chaney returns soon. May all injured make speedy recoveries.

Wide Receivers-

There is a load of talent but not a lot of production in the receivers room. Last year’s top WRs are gone and other than Xavier Restepo in the slot none have shown production commensurate with their abilities either in practice or in games.

Key’Shawn Smith and South Dade HS product Frank Ladson will start out wide.

Romello Brinson, Jacolby George and Michael Redding III will compete for time outside. Brashard Smith will back up Restepo in the slot. It’s time for the wideouts to seize their opportunities. The potential is there.

This group must step up for the team to reach its goals.

Tight Ends—

A very strong group. Will Mallory is a rock. He’s big and tough with sure hands and the leader of the group. Sophomore Elijah Arroyo is coming off a strong freshman campaign and his size and speed make him difficult to defend especially in ‘12 sets’ when he and Mallory are on the field together.

It’s possible up to 40% of offensive snaps are in 12 personnel.

The TE group is deep. Freshmen Jaleel Skinner has blazing speed, Khalil Brantley can play TE or H Back and Don ammarelli is a road grader in cleats and a helmet.

Offensive Line—

A group with enormous talent but not the desired depth going into the season. Gattis and OL coach Alex Mirabal have been cross training their top players and this has become a versatile outfit.

Left Tackle and sure 2023 NFL first round pick Zion Nelson is still recovering from last year’s season ending injury and will hopefully be back shortly. Normal RT John Campbell will open at LT. Regular RG D.J. Scaife will open at RT. Jakai Clark returns at Center. Justice Oluwaseun will fill in at RG and the man head coach Mario Cristobal describes as “…a rare talent…an elite athlete…light footed but heavy handed” Jalen Rivers will start at LG. Rivers had a great start last year but a knee injury in game three cut his season short.

Oregon transfer Logan Sagapolu provides depth at Guard and Center. Ousman Traore backs up at Tackle. Cristobal says of the OL, “ these guys have done very well , they play with power and athleticism.”

Special Teams—

A weakness for the last few years should be vastly improved. The problems in the past have been poor blocking and tackling. This will never be a problem with a Cristobal coached team.

Like every group on both sides of the ball the special teams will play fast , smart and physical. Lou Hedley is back from down under to punt for another year. Andres Borregales will still be filling his brother Jose’s shoes as Kicker. B Smith and X Restepo will handle kickoffs and Smith and J George will return punts. Former NFL special teams coach Marwan Maalouf has been a special advisor to Cristobal and works with this group.

It’s eight days to Bethune-Cookman at Hard Rock Stadium, 3:30 in Miami afternoon heat on Saturday, September 3.

Last Saturday’s scrimmage started at exactly at 3:30 and 100 plus plays were run. This team works hard and works tough. It’s been a special experience watching these young men pushing themselves and working harder than they ever imagined they could. I hope their efforts are rewarded on the field. I believe this will be a very special year. Go Canes!

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