University of Miami coach Mario Cristobal and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson addressed the Hurricanes quarterback situation Monday afternoon, including starter Tyler Van Dyke’s health status and the probable — or at least hopeful — scenarios for true freshman backup Emory Williams and sophomore backup Jacurri Brown as the Canes prepare for No. 23 Texas A&M.
The gist: Starter Tyler Van Dyke, who during Friday’s 35-3 opening-night victory wore some type of black wrap or splint on the index finger of his bruised right hand, might keep wearing it — or not.
“He’s fine,’’ Cristobal said of Van Dyke. “He liked it. So much was made of it in the media when they saw him with that. Some people thought it was a prosthetic finger or something. Whatever makes him feel comfortable.
“You saw him throw the ball. There’s no limits on what he can do… Our training staff is very high tech, very cutting edge. They create some really neat ways to enhance the efficiency, alleviate any issues our guys may have. In Tyler’s case it’s more of efficiency and operational. He has no limits right now.”
Van Dyke finished the game 17-of-22 for 201 yards and a touchdown, with one interception that both Van Dyke and Dawson said they regretted. Dawson actually blamed the pick on himself, saying he got a little too “impatient’’ at that point and probably shouldn’t have taken that shot. “I’m always eager, and always looking to take shots — that’s part of my DNA. But I’ve learned over 20-something years of coaching, too, that the winning is more important than anything else.
“The way we’re built, honestly, people are going to have to stop the run.’’
Dawson also made public for the first time that, if possible, he seemingly intends to redshirt sophomore Jacurri Brown and true freshman Emory Williams. Players can participate in up to four games and still be able to redshirt that season.
Brown was Van Dyke’s backup last season, starting two games, including an impressive victory at Georgia Tech. He completed 27 of 45 passes (60 percent) for 230 yards and three touchdowns, with three interceptions in his five games.
But it was Williams, the 6-5, 220-pound newcomer out of Milton High, who replaced Van Dyke with about nine minutes left Friday against Miami of Ohio. He completed all three of his passes for 42 yards and other than taking one sack, looked calm and extremely capable.
Cristobal said after the game that Williams deserved to play but did not declare him the backup, saying only he was the backup for that day.
On Monday, Dawson was asked if he wanted to get Brown some playing time.
“Yeah,’’ Dawson said. “Look, they’re both there to play. And ultimately I have four games to play with both of them. So, I’m going to be very strategic with what I do with both of those guys.
“People can read into whatever they want to read into. But I got four games and so...’’
Hurricanes freshmen were a huge topic leading up to the opener — for good reason.
Many in the heralded 2023 top-7 recruiting class of Cristobal’s got the first-game experience they craved on Friday, if even for one play.
At least 14 Hurricanes participated in the rout, and likely all of them were thrilled to do it.
Those freshmen (in no particular order): quarterback Emory Williams; defensive linemen Rueben Bain and Jayden Wayne; running back Mark Fletcher Jr.; linebackers Malik Bryant, Bobby Washington Jr. and Raul Aguirre Jr.; cornerback Damari Brown; punter Dylan Joyce; tight ends Riley Williams and Jackson Carver; offensive lineman Samson Okunlola; receiver Nathaniel Ray Ray Joseph; and offensive tackle Francis Mauigoa.
“I don’t think the moment was too big for any of them,’’ Cristobal said Monday, saying “a lot’’ of players participated that were in high school last season. “They were excited... They were high level guys that come from really good programs. They trained, they earned it. We’re not going to throw a guy out there just because he was a highly recruited guy and we don’t want to ruffle any feathers. That just doesn’t work….
“They all did very well. I don’t think the moment was too big for any of them. We look forward to playing more of them and having them get more playing time as well.”
The coach particularly was enamored of Mauigoa, the only freshman who started.
“I was just messing with Francis,’’ the coach said Friday. “Last year, Francis, we were doing O-line, D-line warmups before the game and you’re on the side and I’m thinking, ‘Man, how can I get this guy in pads so he can play.’ We just had to wait a year.
“Just a massive difference.’’
Junior defensive tackle Leonard Taylor was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with UM leading 24-3 in the third quarter for arguing with an official, per TV broadcasters. Cristobal was asked in the postgame conference if the coaches more or less downplay that situation considering the dominant win.
“No,’’ Cristobal said. “I think it’s unacceptable. I don’t think we ever go back to that stuff. What does it do? Right? We don’t want to revert to that. No. There’s no place for that.
“I’m going to coach his butt all the way home, I promise you that.’’
Added Cristobal later in the presser: “Even though I was mad at Leonard Taylor, he’s playing at a high level and he’s going to have a great season.’’
Projected starting tight end Elijah Arroyo, who had reconstructive knee surgery last season, did not play Saturday. “He wasn’t quite ready,’’ Cristobal said after the game. “You really want to protect a guy to the best of your ability. He’s right on the cusp. Trust me, we want him in and he wants to be in. We’re really close.’’
After the first victory, Miami athletic director Dan Radakovich urged fans to fill the stands for the Texas A&M game.
“Heck of a game next Saturday against Texas A&M,’’ Radakovich said. “First time that an SEC team has been here in 10 years. We do have some tickets available. ...Let’s fill up Hard Rock Stadium next Saturday. These guys really put a great effort out there. We want to be able to give them a great home-field advantage.’’
The last time a Southeastern Conference opponent came to Hard Rock Stadium was on Sept. 7, 2013, when the Gators were ranked 12th. UM won that game 21-16 in front of an announced crowd of 76,968.
Fans can secure tickets through miamihurricanes.com/tickets or by calling 1-800-GO-CANES.
This and That
UM on Monday announced its Players of the Game. On Special teams: Andres Borregales, who was three-for-three on field goals and had six touchbacks in seven kickoffs; On offense: starting running back Henry Parrish (nine carries for 90 yards and a touchdown); receiver Xavier Restrepo (six catches for 68 yards); and center Matt Lee; On defense: linebacker Francisco “Kiko” Mauigoa (five tackles, half a tackle for loss).