CHARLOTTE – Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke doesn’t lack for confidence coming off a breakout freshman season, particularly when it comes to the task of facing Clemson on the road this season.
Van Dyke enters the season as one of the ACC’s top signal callers. Taking over as the Hurricanes’ starter early last season after an injury to veteran D’Eriq King, Van Dyke took the league by storm by throwing for 2,931 yards and 25 touchdowns in 10 games en route to ACC Rookie of the Year honors.
With a year of experience, some veteran talent around him and a new offensive scheme that Van Dyke feels better suits Miami’s personnel, he believes the Hurricanes are equipped to do something nobody has done to Clemson since 2016: beat the Tigers in their own stadium. Clemson owns the nation’s longest active home winning streak at 34 games.
“Of course I think that,” Van Dyke said Thursday.
Van Dyke is no stranger to Death Valley. A third-year sophomore, Van Dyke, a native of Connecticut, said he visited Clemson “way back” during his recruitment and is familiar with the team’s pregame tradition of running down the hill. He returned to Clemson as Miami’s third-string quarterback in 2020 when the Tigers handled the Hurricanes, 42-17, though Van Dyke admittedly didn’t get a true feel for the environment with attendance in the 81,500-seat stadium being a fraction of that because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Still, he remembers even a much smaller crowd having an impact.
“Honestly it was pretty packed for a COVID year,” Van Dyke said. “I think they had everyone straight-lined in their stadium, so it was still pretty loud even when the stadium wasn’t really filled out. … Just to experience that a little bit before this year is definitely a good experience to feel that.”
But Van Dyke’s optimism that Miami can give Clemson a more competitive game this time around is rooted primarily in the pieces the Hurricanes have in place entering the Mario Cristobal era, which includes first-year offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. Previously Jim Harbaugh’s play-caller at Michigan, Gattis, a former receiver at Wake Forest, directed a Wolverines offense that ranked in the top 50 nationally in total yards, points, rushing offense and passing efficiency a season ago.
Miami has multiple starting offensive linemen back, including left tackle Zion Nelson. The Hurricanes have also brought in multiple Power Five transfers at the skill positions, including former Clemson receiver Frank Ladson, a former top-100 recruit. Add 6-foot-5, 245-pound tight end Will Mallory, who’s looking to build on a 30-catch season last year, and Van Dyke gets excited thinking about the potential of a balanced offense that he believes has the ability to execute a more aggressive passing attack under Gattis.
“He is bringing a lot of things that we never had last year,” Van Dyke said of his new coordinator. “Coming from a lot of the RPOs (run-pass options) last year, we’re doing a lot more play-action, full-field reading pass concepts.
“He likes to utilize the talent we have, the running backs and the tight ends to the best ability. I’m really excited for that and can’t wait for it.”
Executing a plan against Clemson, though, won’t be easy. The Tigers have more than half their starters and multiple projected first-round draft picks back from a defense that yielded the second-fewest points in the country last season. Clemson hasn’t allowed more than 28 points at home since 2018.
Of course, Clemson has to keep the wins coming at Memorial Stadium first. Miami, the final home game on the Tigers’ schedule, doesn’t make the trip to Clemson until Nov. 19, meaning the streak would stretch to 39 games if Clemson can beat Furman, Louisiana Tech, N.C. State, Syracuse and Louisville before entertaining the Hurricanes.
If they do, Van Dyke likes Miami’s chances of giving the Tigers all they can handle when the time comes.
“I’m excited for it,” he said. “We haven’t really watched much film on them yet. What, it’s the second-to-last game? So we’re just going to try to focus one game at a time, but that’ll be a fun game up there.”
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