Van Dyke, Receivers Shine in Win over Aggies

Van Dyke, Receivers Shine in Win over Aggies

by Christy Cabrera Chirinos

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Tyler Van Dyke knows all about Miami’s rich quarterback tradition.

The national championships won. The Heisman Trophies brought back to Coral Gables. The records that have been set and broken. The way Hurricanes signal callers have dominated on some of college football’s biggest stages.

On Saturday afternoon, though, the junior did something the likes of Jim Kelly, Gino Torretta, Vinny Testaverde, Steve Walsh, Bernie Kosar, Craig Erickson, and Ken Dorsey, among others, weren’t able to accomplish during their decorated Miami careers.

Van Dyke completed 21 of 30 passes and threw for 374 yards and five touchdowns in Miami’s 48-33 win over No. 23 Texas A&M. In doing so, he became the first Hurricanes quarterback to ever throw five scoring passes against a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

But even after learning of the feat – and smiling – Miami’s quarterback was quick to credit his teammates for helping him put together his memorable performance.

“I mean, I think it just shows the entire work we put in this offseason,” Van Dyke said. “Timing with the receivers, the offensive line communicating well and just jelling well together. So, it’s not just only me that did that. All those guys stepped up for me today and made big-time plays.”

That was putting it mildly.

Miami’s receiving corps put on a show in Saturday’s win, with junior Jacolby George scoring touchdowns on three of his five receptions, including a dazzling 64-yarder in the game’s final three minutes that virtually put it away for Miami.

Meanwhile, Xavier Restrepo – who missed last year’s game at Texas A&M because of a foot injury – had six catches for a career-high 126 yards. Colbie Young delivered a series of big catches, extending drives and finishing with six receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown. And while Isaiah Horton only had one grab on the day, he made it count, scoring on a 52-yard play.

All of that left Restrepo, the veteran leader in the receivers’ room – plenty pleased and eager to see what Miami’s receivers can do moving forward.

“I mean, when somebody scores, no matter if they have one yard or a hundred yards, I’m pretty sure if you go watch the film, everybody’s jumping on the sideline,” Restrepo said. “It’s a type of everybody-eats-kind-of-room right now. We’re so unselfish and that’s a big part of being successful, being super unselfish. Talk with the guys, and all we’re talking about is just win, you know what I’m saying? At the end of the day, winning’s the best feeling.”

Added George, “I feel like everybody in the receiver room is putting in work and the world’s finally seeing it now. It’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve been working hard and [we’re] just ready to keep working.”

And in much the same way Van Dyke credits his pass catchers with helping the offense succeed, Miami’s receivers say their quarterback has been a difference maker.

“That’s nothing new. … I mean, I think he’s the best quarterback in the nation,” Restrepo said of Van Dyke’s performance Saturday. “I mean, the kid’s special. You have to give props and props are awarded. That kid is something amazing.”

A season ago, though, things were anything but amazing for Van Dyke.

The quarterback, who was pressed into duty in 2021 and went on to become ACC Rookie of the Year after former Miami quarterback D’Eriq King was hurt early that season, endured his share of struggles last year.

He was hampered by a shoulder injury that sidelined him for multiple games and kept him from feeling at his best in several others. Van Dyke finished the season completing 63.2 percent of his passes for 1,835 yards with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.

There were moments he said he struggled, not just physically, but mentally.

Still, Van Dyke opted to return to Miami and spent the offseason working to not only rehabilitate the injury, but once he was cleared to begin throwing, improving his mechanics, and building timing with his receivers.

He worked on improving his confidence, too, Van Dyke said.

“I think I sped up my release a little bit. I’m not as long anymore. I feel like I just put the ball wherever now,” he said after Saturday’s win. “And I feel healthy and a hundred percent confident. I did a lot of mental stuff over this offseason, really tried to build that confidence mentally. With all the stuff that happened last year, you know, it’s hard to get that confidence. So, I read a lot of books. Talked to [Miami sports psychologist Dr. Eric Goldstein] and yeah, just getting right mentally really helped a lot …

“I’m having a lot of fun out there right now. It’s a lot of fun winning games and that’s all I care about. I don’t care about five touchdown passes, stats, or whatever. I just want to win games.”

That’s exactly what Van Dyke and the Hurricanes have done in their first two games.

But even as they left Hard Rock Stadium with smiles on their faces Saturday after knocking off the Aggies, there were already thoughts of the work that has to continue so Miami can keep getting better, keep winning and, as Van Dyke noted, keep having fun.

They’ll have their next chance to do just that on Thursday when the Hurricanes host Bethune-Cookman to close out a three-game home stand.

There’s no doubt, though, that Saturday’s win was one to build on and that’s the goal now.

“This means a lot. It shows how hard we worked this offseason, shows how this a player-led team,” Van Dyke said. “Our leaders came together, told each other ‘It’s not happening again. We’re not going to be 5-7. Fight through adversity and win those games.’ I think tonight was the first step of showing the world what we have to prove.”

Added Restrepo, “I mean, tonight showed a lot of as a culture, where we’re at. I know that’s what we’ve been talking about nonstop, and everyone finally got a chance to see it tonight.”