After a bye week of going inward and shutting down the program to media, University of Miami football coach Mario Cristobal spoke Monday on WQAM’s Joe Rose Show, and made it obvious that quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is still QB1.
Miami, now 2-2 after a demoralizing 45-31 defeat to Middle Tennessee State, faces 4-1 North Carolina at 4 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2) at Hard Rock Stadium. It will be UM’s first of eight consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference games.
Van Dyke, who hasn’t been the same this season and had the worst performance in his college career against Middle Tennessee State, has been the subject of scrutiny and debate over whether he should or will be replaced by redshirt freshman backup Jake Garcia.
Rose asked Cristobal about Van Dyke and if the coach had talks with him about his performance. “How do you treat this going forward with Tyler?”
Cristobal’s response: “You’re always talking to your players. You never lose that connection. But you’re also very honest about the fact that Tyler has played great football here for a long time and you don’t turn on your quarterback because we had a bad day as a program.
“You make sure you do things and install things and work on things that the quarterback and the supporting cast feel comfortable with and you go with that. And at the same time you recognize and acknowledge that Jake did a great job and has got a super bright future here at Miami.”
Rose: “Is Tyler’s attitude still pretty good? Body language. Does he still seem to be upbeat about leading this offense?”
Cristobal: “He is. After a rough day like that, competitors, what do they do? He’s resilient and he’s shown that and ready to attack every opportunity that he has... knowing that we have an unbelievable opportunity on Saturday.
“You know how it is. Over the years all the times and experiences you’ve had in football. I’s just like life. Either you come together and work at it and improve and move forward or you unravel and fall apart...
“Tyler has done a really good job of making sure he does everything possible to get better and improve. And we’ve done a better job communicating, making sure we can do things that fit our personnel at the current time.’’
Van Dyke, who threw interceptions on his first two passes last game, finished 16 of 32 for 138 yards, one touchdown and the picks — one of them returned for a touchdown. He is now 70 of 118 for 809 yards and four touchdowns, with three interceptions. He has been sacked six times.
Garcia, who replaced Van Dyke in the third quarter last game, finished the game 10 of 19 for 161 yards and no touchdowns, but led the Canes on two touchdown drives. He is now 19 of 28 for 169 yards and no touchdowns, with no interceptions. He has been sacked twice.
WQAM’s Zach Krantz asked Cristobal about his ”message to Tyler and Jake after the game.’’
“Obviously, it sounds like you’re not making a change at quarterback and that Tyler is still your guy,’’ Krantz told Cristobal.
Cristobal’s reply: “The gist of the interview [with quarterbacks] is there’s no controversy to be started or narrative to create. The message is obvious…. We’re here for real purposes and we’ve got to go forward with real.”
Rose asked the coach if he goes back and makes general position changes or any changes for North Carolina.
“Every single week you’re trying to put the best guys on the field,’’ Cristobal said. “In some areas we’re better than others.... Sometimes you prove it in practice and disprove it in games.... But you surely don’t sugarcoat it and pretend your issues don’t go away. The guys have had a great attitude.’’
Cristobal said he goes “right to the facts and you assess what you did well and what you didn’t do well and go right to it and assess it and address it. Obviously we’re disappointed with our last performance and always making sure that whatever we do that we’re very honest, no BS. We came here to do the work and we went right back at it.”
There were several players injured, previously and during the Middle Tennessee State game. When asked by Krantz about UM’s injury status, Cristobal was basically mum.
“It’s relatively the same,’’ the coach said. “Maybe a guy here or there, plus or minus, but it’s about the same.’’
Not necessarily reassuring news, but we’ll hopefully find out more when Cristobal addresses reporter at his weekly news conference this afternoon.