The quarterback matchup will be Drake Maye versus Tyler Van Dyke, and maybe Jake Garcia.
Maye, who leads the ACC in passing touchdowns (19), passing yards per game (318.8) and passing efficiency (187.6) will take his show on the road on Saturday afternoon, when his North Carolina Tar Heels (4-1, 1-0 ACC) visit the Miami Hurricanes.
Miami (2-2, 0-0 ACC) will start Van Dyke at quarterback. But Van Dyke, who in the preseason was projected as a first-round pick for the 2023 NFL draft, was benched in the third quarter of Miami’s most recent game, a 45-31 upset home loss to Middle Tennessee State.
Garcia briefly lit a fire in Miami’s offense against MTSU, and Canes coach Mario Cristobal made it clear he won’t hesitate to call on his backup QB again.
“Jake gives us a world of confidence,” Cristobal said of Garcia. “We feel we have two great quarterbacks.”
Van Dyke has a 123.0 efficiency rate and 59.3 completion percentage in 118 passes this year. Garcia has a 149.5 efficiency rate and 67.9 completion percentage on 28 passes.
But despite the inferior numbers, Van Dyke has responded well in practices, according to Cristobal.
Van Dyke will need to be equally as good Saturday, because UNC has won three straight games against Miami, its longest streak in series history. The Tar Heels lead the series, 12-11, even though Miami has had the better program for the past 40 years.
Maye, if he stays hot, could make it four in a row for the Heels. He is the reigning ACC Quarterback and Freshman of the Week after passing for a career-high 363 yards in a 41-10 win over Virginia Tech. He completed 26-of-36 passes for three touchdowns and ran for a team-high 73 yards and two scores in a dominating performance.
“Drake continues to do some amazing things,” UNC coach Mack Brown said. “Standing in the pocket or moving around to find an open receiver — he’s a special player.”
UNC has gotten excellent production from its top three tight ends as Bryson Nesbit, Kamari Morales and John Copenhaver have combined this season for 33 catches and five touchdowns.
Brown was also impressed with his defense, which held Virginia Tech to just 273 yards, forcing two turnovers. That’s a huge difference from the UNC defense that allowed 61 points to Appalachian State earlier this year.
“That’s what I’ve been seeing in practice,” Brown said of his defense’s improvement.