The Miami Sprinkles
By: Robert Craft
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
At his lowest point of his time at Miami, Mario Cristobal, down three touchdowns to Middle Tennessee State (the 2022 edition of 2019’s FIU debacle) he decided to welcome a quarterback controversy.
And there it was, at the 7:55 mark of the third quarter, “finally” in the minds of the freaked-out fans in attendance- screaming and chanting for Jake Garcia; Cristobal benched Tyler Van Dyke and brought Garcia into the action.
You can’t make this drama up. Garcia came in absolutely on fire. He threw a 39-yard pass in stride to Keyshawn Smith (Smith also had a kickoff return for a touchdown).
Garcia was one of the few Hurricanes to show individual skill progress this week. Thad Franklin scored on a one-yard run the very next play and Miami was down 31-17 with 6:08 left in the third quarter.
The Garcia show continued to some degree for the remainder of the game – he finished 10-19 for 169 yards – but by now we all saw; it was not enough.
Miami lost 45-31 to Middle Tennessee State in a complete, utter and embarrassing organizational failure. This loss negated much of the hard work Mario Cristobal and his staff have put in since arriving in December.
Teams lose a game like this, and frankly, it ends up not being the end of the world- as long as they bounce back. Texas A&M lost to Appalachian State at home and then beat Miami and Arkansas.
If the Hurricanes rally to still win the Coastal, this nightmare will be washed away. Right now, however, the nightmare is piercing the soul of fans wondering if that will happen because of the way the week has evolved.
Here’s some real talk: Van Dyke really is the same guy who had six 300-yard games to end the 2021 season. Nothing else from 2021 to now is the same. Absolutely nothing, and dealing with that has been the key component in this mass decline of QB performances.
New head coach. New offensive coordinator. New offensive system. Best receivers from last year, Charleston Rambo and Mike Harley, gone without suitable replacements.
Even with the encouraging improvement Saturday of Key’shawn Smith and Frank Ladson, it’s not working.
All the quarterback talk has masked the fact that Miami seemed to have nothing in the tank at the line of scrimmage. Some will call that an excuse, but these were the same guys who got pushed around last week against Texas A&M.
The issue in the game was that the passing game wasn’t there. Chemistry and depth are the main receiver issues. That’s compounded by a new offensive system by Gattis, not to mention, it is still quite early in the season.
The cloud looming above Coral Gables is the Gattis offense. Let’s see if it’s a good fit for Van Dyke or if the transfer portal is on the horizon.
So far, through four games, the answer seems to be leaning toward the second option.
That, however, can change quickly if Van Dyke can get things back on track with the rest of the offense.
It doesn’t get any easier for Miami, who begins conference play with North Carolina after a bye week.
Luckily, the Hurricanes will avoid heavy hitters like Clemson and Pittsburgh until the final weeks of the season, yet nothing is guaranteed for Miami after losing to Middle Tennessee State.
Is this the most embarrassing loss in modern Miami history?