Freshman-led offenses clash as Georgia Tech faces Miami

NCAA Football

Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims and running back Jahmyr Gibbs are products of the Class of 2020. The same is true for Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke and running back Jaylan Knighton.

On Saturday afternoon, all four players are set to have key roles as the Hurricanes (4-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) play host to the Yellow Jackets (3-5, 2-4) in Miami Gardens, Fla.

However, while Sims has been a starter since the first game of his true freshman season, Van Dyke threw just two passes — both incomplete — in his initial year with Miami.

This year, Van Dyke started the season as a backup, but he has impressed since an injury knocked out D’Eriq King.

Over the past two weeks, Van Dyke led Miami to a pair of upset wins against Top 20 teams. In those two games, Van Dyke was a revelation, completing 57 of 75 passes (76 percent) for 751 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception.

Van Dyke, a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder with a strong arm, is a classic drop-back passer.

“He’s a freshman,” Hurricanes tight end Will Mallory said, “but he’s making veteran plays.”

In ACC games, Van Dyke ranks fourth in the league, averaging 304.5 passing yards.

Knighton, suspended for Miami’s first four games this season, has been electric since his return, averaging 116.5 scrimmage yards per contest.

Meanwhile, Sims — when compared to Van Dyke — is the more dangerous runner. In 16 career games, Sims has rushed for 872 yards and 10 touchdowns.

As a passer, however, Sims’ numbers include just a 57.1 percent completion rate and 19 interceptions to go with 24 TD passes.

Sims lost his starting job after getting injured in this year’s season-opening loss to Northern Illinois. However, he came in off the bench and ran for 128 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another score in Georgia Tech’s best game of the season, a 45-22 win over then-21st-ranked North Carolina.

Since then, however, Georgia Tech has lost three of its past four contests.

Gibbs, though, has been a bright spot, rushing for more than 100 yards in each of the Yellow Jackets’ two most recent games.

Combined in those two contests, Gibbs ran for 245 yards on 24 carries — a frightening 10.2 average. He added seven catches for 67 yards, and that doesn’t count a 52-yarder that got called back due to a holding penalty.

Still, the Yellow Jackets are coming off a 26-17 home loss to Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech had a season-worst 77 yards in penalties in that game.

“I told our guys, ‘Stay together. We’ll get it fixed,'” Yellow Jackets coach Geoff Collins said.

The Yellow Jackets are 9-21 in three years under Collins, but he won his lone meeting with the Hurricanes in that span, 28-21 in overtime at Miami Gardens in 2019. The past three meetings between the teams were decided by one score, with Georgia Tech winning twice and Miami once.

–Field Level Media

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