With Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke struggling Saturday in the overtime win against Virginia, coaches were asked Monday about freshman backup Emory Williams and No. 3 signal caller Jacurri Brown.
Williams got his first career start Oct. 21 in leading UM to a double-overtime victory at home against Clemson. It appears that Brown might not play this season, although he still could play in four games and keep his redshirt status.
When asked how it would benefit Brown to get in a game this season, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said on Monday, “I think it’s beneficial to play, for sure... We chose to burn one kid’s year. And we chose to save a kid’s year. So, when you choose to burn a kid’s year, you have to use that year to his best ability. It would have been the same way if it were the other way. I’m trying to utilize this year as best I can with the kid’s year that I burned.
“They’re both ready to play, put it that way.”
UM (6-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) travels to Raleigh, North Carolina, this weekend for an 8 p.m. Saturday game (ACC Network) at NC State (5-3, 2-2). Van Dyke, according to multiple sources, is still feeling the effects of injuries sustained in an Oct. 14 loss at North Carolina, but he is expected to start Saturday,
Brown, a 6-4, 220-pound sophomore, played in five games last season and started two, including a great performance Nov. 12 in his first start at Georgia Tech (14 of 19 for 136 yards and three touchdowns, with 87 yards rushing), a 35-14 UM victory. He also started in UM’s 40-10 loss Nov. 19 at Clemson. He is a speedy, elusive runner who has struggled with accuracy in the passing game.
Last season, Brown, from Valdosta, Georgia, was 27 of 45 (60 percent) for 230 yards and three touchdowns, with three interceptions. At Clemson in UM’s penultimate 2022 game, Brown was hit hard and sacked three times, completing 6 of 13 passes for 53 yards and no touchdowns, with one interception. He was sacked six times in 2022.
“We made the decision in the beginning of the year to save his year and use him as an emergency quarterback,’’ Dawson said. “I had him ready last week to play, and if I needed him I was going to play him.
“I’m going to let you work through your problems,’’ he said of his philosophy. “I’m not a big fan of pulling people early. I like to see you work through your issues. In the Clemson game I never felt like we were in a situation where Emory was out of control. I felt the same way this week.
“I know what Tyler can do, and I trust that he’s going to work himself out of it.”
The 6-5, 220-pound Williams, from Milton, Florida, is 36 of 48 (75 percent) for 295 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Besides his Clemson start, he played in UM’s season-opening 38-3 win against Miami of Ohio (3 of 3 for 42 yards), UMs 48-7 third-game win against Bethune-Cookman (9 of 11 for 102 yards) and the Canes’ 41-7 fourth-game win at Temple (0 of 1). He has been sacked twice.
Since Williams has not played his fifth game yet, Dawson was asked if he would consider ensuring Williams a redshirt as well.
“We could,’’ he said. “We talk about it every game.... Our head coach would obviously make that decision over me. That is a week-to-week conversation with us.”
In Williams’ first career start against the Tigers, he led the Hurricanes to a 28-20 win. He completed 24 of 33 passes (72.7 percent) for 151 yards and a 25-yard touchdown, with one interception.
Coach Mario Cristobal was asked if he’d like to see Brown in a game this season.
“He’s developing, he’s doing a great job and he’s going to be a great player for us,’’ was Cristobal’s response.
The coach also said Brown was developing in “his reads” and “his accuracy.”
“He’s always run really well but he’s become a really good quarterback as well.”
DL and injury updates
The Hurricanes now have two former starting defensive ends out for the season, but the Canes still generated six sacks and 10 tackles for loss on Saturday.
Cristobal announced after the Virginia game that 6-3, 280-pound junior Akheem Mesidor “will be laid up” for the remaining games, a significant blow to the defensive line rotation.
Mesidor, who has a foot injury and got hurt Sept. 9 against Texas A&M, sometimes played at tackle and earned All-ACC honorable mention in 2023. After playing his first two years at West Virginia, Mesidor finished with 38 tackles, 10 1/2 tackles for loss and team-high seven sacks last season. He also had four pass breakups, three quarterback hurries and one forced fumble.
This season he had five tackles and one sack.
“We miss him because he’s a great player,’’ Cristobal said. “Every day from him it’s pressure, it’s disrupting people, knocking people in the backfield, causing negative plays.’’
The coach already announced last week that 6-5, 250-pound sophomore defensive end Nyjalik Kelly, out of Fort Lauderdale Dillard High, will be out with injury the rest of the season. But since Kelly has only played four games this season, he can still redshirt and come back next year as a third-year sophomore. In four games this season, he had eight tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup.
Against Virginia, true freshman Rueben Bain replaced Mesidor as starter for the sixth consecutive game. Bain again was exceptional, with seven tackles, two sacks, 2 1/2 tackles for loss, a pass breakup and quarterback hurry. He now has a team-leading 6 1/2 sacks.
Fifth-year junior Jahfari Harvey (19 tackles, 2 1/2 tackles for loss, one sack, three quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery) starts opposite Bain.
“It’s that time of year,’’ Cristobal told WQAM. The coach mentioned tackles Thomas Gore and Jake Lichtenstein as improving. He said Lichtenstein should get more reps because he’s practicing well.
UM’s starters inside are junior Leonard Taylor III and Jared Harrison-Hunte, though Purdue transfer Branson Deen has returned from injury and had two sacks Saturday.
▪ Running back Don Chaney Jr. “was a little banged up’’ coming into Saturday, Cristobal told WQAM, and didn’t play against Virginia. “If you don’t get reps during the week, with all the looks you see, it’s not going to help the team to put the guy in a bad situation.’’ He told reporters later that Chaney, as well as Henry Parrish, were “all the way there’’ and ready to play this week. Parrish was on a play count last week.
▪ Tight end Elijah Arroyo “got rolled up” against UVA and left the game, Cristobal said. “Hw is day-to-day.’’
UM’s offensive line had a stellar game on Saturday, keeping Van Dyke clean and never close to being touched. Center Matt Lee, left guard Javion Cohen and right guard Anez Cooper were recognized as part of Pro Football Focus’s College Team of the Week. UM’s left tackle is pro prospect Jalen Rivers. True freshman Francis Mauigoa is at right tackle.
The Canes are 11th in the nation in sacks allowed (8).
UM’s offense is ranked 19th nationally, allowing (456.1 yards a game). Its scoring offense is 20th (35.4-point average).
The Nov. 11 Miami at Florida State game will be televised by ABC, the ACC announced Monday. The game time won’t be known until this weekend.
▪ Three UM players were honored by the ACC on Monday. Safety Kam Kinchens, who returned an interception for a touchdown against Virginia, was defensive back of the week; Andy Borregales, who kicked 47, 48 and 50-yard field goals, was specialist of the week; and for the second straight week, Bain was named defensive lineman of the week.