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Miami Football: 2022 Hurricanes Season Preview and Prediction

Tyler Van Dyke, Miami Hurricanes Football

Tyler Van Dyke and the Hurricanes are ranked No. 20 in Athlon Sports' Top 25 for the 2022 college football season

It's a new era for the Miami Hurricanes — again. For the third time since 2016, Miami will have a new head coach. This time, the Hurricanes swear things will be different, and there are reasons to believe they actually might be. New coach Mario Cristobal brings a résumé with multiple conference championships on it and a nearly unparalleled track record as a recruiter. The on-field staff he has put together is loaded with former head coaches like Charlie Strong, and the off-field staff includes Pro Football Hall of Famers Jason Taylor and Ed Reed. Miami also is promising to spend big on facilities upgrades and everything else the school needs to re-enter the arena of big-time college football.

The future could be bright in Coral Gables. The present is a bit more complicated, although expectations are always high in the typically wide-open Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Related: Athlon Sports' College Football Top 25 for 2022

Previewing Miami's Offense for 2022

Tyler Van Dyke was not expecting to play a significant role for the Hurricanes last season. He was content to sit behind D'Eriq King for one more year and then compete with Jake Garcia for the starting quarterback job in 2022.

Instead, he goes into the season as one of the biggest stars in the sport.

When King went down with season-ending shoulder surgery in the first week of the season, Van Dyke and Garcia both got a chance make their case for the job in a game against the FCS Central Connecticut State Blue Devils. Garcia, though, hurt his ankle in the blowout win, and the job was all Van Dyke's.

It meant the quarterback had a leash to work with when he struggled in Miami's first two ACC games. In Game 3, he abruptly transformed into a star, throwing for 325 yards and four touchdowns in an upset of the then-No. 18 NC State Wolfpack.

Van Dyke finished the season with six straight games of at least 316 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, highlighted by a 426-yard performance as he outdueled Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett to upset the then-No. 17 Pitt Panthers.

The challenge he faces now is keeping up this torrid pace even after the Hurricanes lose a pair of record-setting wide receivers. Charleston Rambo set single-season records for catches and receiving yards in his lone season at Miami, and Mike Harley finished his career as the school's all-time leader in receptions.

The third-year sophomore has to find a new No. 1 receiver. The Hurricanes hope Van Dyke is so good he can thrive no matter who's surrounding him.

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All-America candidate Zion Nelson leads a strong offensive line with three returning starters. They'll open holes for running back Jaylan Knighton, the Canes' leading returning rusher (561 yards, eight TDs).

Previewing Miami's Defense for 2022

Inexperience was one of the weaknesses of Miami's defense in 2021. It might manifest as a strength in 2022.

In their season finale, the Hurricanes started two freshman safeties, a freshman cornerback, a freshman linebacker and a redshirt freshman defensive tackle.

With those freshman defensive backs all back, the secondary could be the strength of the defense. Kamren Kinchens and Avantae Williams were more than capable as starters, and fellow safety James Williams, who started seven games as a freshman last year before a late-season injury, has star potential wherever he winds up playing, whether it's in the secondary or maybe even at outside linebacker. Tyrique Stevenson was at times a lockdown cornerback last year before his own late-season injury, and four other corners have starting experience.

The front six, however, is the biggest question mark on the roster, with Miami trying to replace both its starting defensive ends and still looking for answers at linebacker after two underwhelming seasons from the position. Defensive tackle might be a strength, though, with Leonard Taylor — a former five-star recruit, according to the 247Sports Composite — ready to build on a great freshman season after tying for the team lead with 7.5 tackles for loss.

Cristobal is trying to flex his muscle in the transfer portal — he has already added defensive linemen Mitchell Agude, Akheem Mesidor, Jacob Lichtenstein and Antonio Moultrie and is hoping to add a linebacker, too — and he'll need to hit on some of those acquisitions if the defense is going to improve significantly.

Previewing Miami's Specialists for 2022

Punter Lou Hedley is back for a third season after garnering All-America recognition back in 2020. He's a known commodity.

At kicker, Andres Borregales is back for Year 2 after going through the typical ups and downs for a freshman specialist. The highs were really high, though: Borregales drilled a 55-yard field goal in a loss to the Michigan State Spartans. After going 17-of-21 on field goals last year, Borregales will need to be just a bit more consistent as a sophomore.

Final Analysis

The Hurricanes' newfound commitment to spending and Cristobal's promise on the recruiting trail — plus his favored status as a two-time national champion at Miami — mean the coach could have a longer honeymoon period than some other recent hires, but Miami fans are a famously impatient bunch. They might not have to wait long for results. With Van Dyke in the fold, the Hurricanes should contend for the Coastal title.

National Ranking: 20

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