Judging by the first three games of the University of Miami football season, it increasingly appears that University of Miami starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke will have a true freshman as his backup this season.
But coach Mario Cristobal and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson have not made that proclamation, if, indeed, it’s true — at least in terms of best laid plans as the No. 20 Hurricanes (3-0) prepare for their first road trip at Temple (2-1) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2) in Philadelphia.
After two strong games in limited action, the 6-5, 220-pound Emory Williams has completed 12 of 14 passes for 144 yards, with no touchdowns and no interceptions. His completion percentage: 85.7. His longest passes: 18 yards in the Miami of Ohio opener and 22 yards last week against Bethune-Cookman of the . He came into the opener with about nine minutes left in the game, and came into last week’s game at 9:58 of the third quarter.
The 6-4, 220-pound sophomore Jacurri Brown, who played in five games last season and started two — including a dominant victory at Georgia Tech in which he was 14 of 19 (73.7 percent) for 136 yards and three touchdowns, with 87 rushing yards — has not played this season.
After Cristobal said earlier Monday that the backup quarterback scenario was a “week-to-week’’ competition, offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson was asked about the situation later in the day. Dawson previously said that his goal was to have each backup play no more than four games, which would automatically qualify each for a redshirt season (worth an extra year of eligibility).
Here’s what he said Monday regarding Williams: “Efficient. Emory came in there and was 9 of 11 [for 102 yards]. Put the ball in play. He had a couple when he scrambled to the right and kind of put the ball in jeopardy that one time, which was probably his negative play of the game. Other than that he was very efficient, very accurate.”
Where is Williams in relation to other true freshmen quarterbacks Dawson has coached?
“He has a good skill set and good grasp of the offense,’’ Dawson said. “His accuracy and timing are pretty good for a young guy.”
Dawson was asked if a redshirt season is still the plan for Williams.
“It is until he plays five games,’’ Dawson said. “That’s the rule. Until you play five, it’s on the table. I don’t know how that will go. We’ll see.”
As for Brown, Dawson said he’s playing his situation “by ear.’’
“I’m delaying it as long as I can to be honest with you,’’ Dawson said. “We prepare weekly and both of them are prepared to play. I go into games knowing I have two guys to play. I don’t want to play more than four with him. It would be very careless of me to play him in games where I didn’t need him.
“Emory is playing at a high level so we’re in a good place as far as getting our goal accomplished with him. It’s a long season. We’re in week four. So far so good.”
Brown’s attitude is “great,’’ Dawson said.
“It’s unbelievable. I told him at the beginning of this year [that] I redshirted as a junior [quarterback/wide receiver at Wingate in North Carolina], so I’ve been through it as a player.. Through my career we’ve redshirted guys later in their careers, probably more than most.
“So, I know the challenges that come with it. I told him from the beginning that it’s going to be a year that you’ve got to battle boredom because you’re not going to be doing a lot. You’ve got to be dialed in mentally. You’ve got to be ready to go if needed. It’s a very challenging year for him but the kid has been unbelievable. His attitude is off the chart.
“He’s done everything we need to help us get ready for games. If we need him he is there. Very proud of him and the way he’s handled everything.”
Last season, Brown struggled at times with his accuracy. He was 27 of 45 (60 percent) for 230 yards and three touchdowns, with three interceptions. He also had 54 carries for 223 yards. He was sacked six times.
Dawson spoke about what Brown does well.
“He’s got a dominant trait. He’s one of the fastest on the team,’’ Dawson said. “I think everybody sees that. What he has done good since I’ve been here is he has developed the pocket stuff that we’ve been working on, working on with every quarterback, not just him. Tyler is the same way.
“We have certain beliefs in our offensive system that playing quarterback from the pocket and making them defend the whole field is No. 1 and utilizing your natural skill-set will become organic. That will happen although there will be some scheme plays that exist.
“Just sharpening those tools for him. He’s made leaps-and-bounds progress from the beginning of spring until now. In the spring it was easy because he was taking a lot of reps. Now, reps are divided because we’ve got to get Tyler ready to start.”
Dawson said the backup reps in practice are divided between Brown and Williams.
“You’re not taking the amount of reps you took in the spring,’’ Dawson said, “so the progress might slow down a little bit. But we’re doing other things in drills and things to keep up with it. His progress will keep going.”