Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke ready for his encore performance

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Tyler Van Dyke has studied every play from his 2021 season at Miami. There are some plays he’s evaluated much more than the others.

And they’re not the highlight-reel entries, either.

Van Dyke’s right arm is carrying a significant amount of No. 16 Miami’s hopes entering this season, for good reason. Over the final six games of the Hurricanes’ schedule a year ago, his numbers were among the very best in the country. He started the year as a backup; he ended it as a full-fledged NFL draft hopeful.

But in the film room, it’s the mistakes that motivate him.

“When I watch the film of games last year, when I really look back, I always look at the negative things,” Van Dyke said. “If I had two bad plays or a few bad plays, I’d be like, `Was that really a good game with those bad plays I had?’ ”

To be fair, the answer to that question would be “yes,” particularly in his final six games and after finding his footing as the starter.

The Connecticut native completed 66% of his passes in that six-game span, with 20 touchdowns, just three interceptions and threw for 2,194 yards. The only other FBS quarterback during those weeks to have that many yards, that sort of accuracy, that many touchdowns and that few interceptions was Mississippi State’s Will Rogers – who had a 77% completion rate, 21 touchdowns, three interceptions and 2,287 yards.

If Miami had gone to a bowl game – the Hurricanes’ trip to the Sun Bowl was derailed by virus-related issues – Van Dyke almost certainly would have finished with 3,000 yards. He ended up 69 yards short. Still, not bad for someone who played only nine games a year ago and got the starting job only after D'Eriq King was lost early in the season with a shoulder injury.

“After all the work we’ve done, I can’t wait to get back out there,” said Van Dyke, who will lead the Hurricanes into their season debut at home Saturday against Bethune-Cookman.

Inheriting a quarterback like Van Dyke is something first-year Miami coach Mario Cristobal calls “a tremendous blessing.”

“You have a natural leader that’s one of your hardest workers, competing to be recognized as the hardest worker, that demands as much of himself as he does of anybody else,” Cristobal said. “That type of mentality and that work ethic, he has also displayed in the classroom and the way he approaches community service and everything he does.”

It’s probably hard for Van Dyke to totally ignore the highlights when he looks at those films.

There were plenty of them.

He ended last season on an absolute tear – with at least 300 yards passing and three touchdowns in each of his final six games. No quarterback at the major college level had six such games over that span; Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe had five, and three others had four apiece.

According to FanDuel Sportsbook, there are just six players with better odds of winning the Heisman Trophy this season than Van Dyke.

“Last year, when he was the starting quarterback, he was more of the offensive leader,” Miami receiver Xavier Restrepo said. “But this year, I feel like everybody listens to him. He controls the whole entire team.”

That said, Van Dyke gets legitimate competition every day in the Miami quarterback room.

Jake Garcia, who wanted to play through a broken ankle last year, excelled in his lone appearance a year ago – throwing two touchdown passes against Central Connecticut, the game in which he got hurt. Freshman Jacurri Brown is a highly regarded newcomer who had offers from Auburn, Florida, Mississippi and others.

“I mean, all those guys are just insane,” Restrepo said. “You know, their arm talent is ridiculous. And sitting behind TVD and just listening to TVD, they’re also gaining knowledge about football, so I think that’s very important for them.”

Van Dyke is already mentioned as a potential first-round pick if he chooses to enter the 2023 NFL draft. He’s been in high demand as an endorser, thanks to the NCAA’s policy that now allows student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness.

It’s all nice. He enjoys the attention. But he insists that his focus is on the field.

“I’ve played this game my entire life and obviously it’s pretty cool to see all that stuff,” Van Dyke said. “But at the end of the day, all that stuff is projections. I only played like three-fourths of a season last year. I just can’t wait to play a full season this year.”

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.