Mario Cristobal has a reputation for being a conservative offensive head coach. In an article published on Wednesday Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports examined “ACC spring football overreactions: Florida State reclaims league throne, Clemson’s big hire pays dividends.” Dodd doesn’t trust Cristobal to open up the Miami offense.
After firing Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator following the 2022 season, Mario Cristobal hired Shannon Dawson from Houston to run the Miami offense. Dawson comes from the Mike Leach Air Raid tree. Dawson has stated that the Air Raid has evolved and he is committed to the run being important in how he calls a game.
Houston ran 30.9 times for 141.8 yards per game last season. The Cougars still threw more often. Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was far more successful in the wide-open offense Miami ran in 2021. Van Dyke struggled under Gattis in 2022. Miami needs Van Dyke to return to his 2021 form in 2023.
Van Dyke completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 2,931 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions in 10 games with nine starts in 2021. During an injury-plagued 2022 season, Van Dyke completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 1,835 yards 10 TDs and five interceptions. Dodd summarized what to expect in 2023.
"“Don’t trust Mario Cristobal to truly open up the offense: Miami aired it out some during its spring game, and that was an encouraging sign in regards to second-year head coach Mario Cristobal’s willingness to field an offense that actually works in today’s game.First-year offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson was in the same role last season for a Houston team that attempted 38.5 passes per game. Is Cristobal truly ready to hand over the reins of the unit to someone so aerially inclined? We’ll see.Oregon ran significantly more than it passed in Cristobal’s four seasons there, and it’s going to take a hardcore mentality shift for Cristobal to embrace that style. Ultimately, he must.If the ‘Canes are going to make the most of quarterback Tyler Van Dyke’s presence on their roster and be a factor in the ACC, Cristobal has no choice but to let Dawson move his offense out of the Stone Age.”"
In the last season Cristobal was at Oregon in 2021, the Ducks averaged 29.3 passing attempts per game to 38.2 runs. Miami averaged 27.9 passes and 35.5 rushing attempts in 2022. The Hurricanes should be more balanced under Dawson. Van Dyke needs someone to emerge as a player around him on offense.
Henry Parrish led Miami with 616 rushing on 4.7 yards per carry in 2022. Colbie Young is projected to be the top receiver for Miami in 2023. Young had 32 receptions for 367 yards and five TDs in 2022. The latter two lead the Miami returnees in 2023. Mario Cristobal stated in December he wanted to add a transfer WR.
Miami has targeted several WRs since December but without any success. If Xavier Restrepo stays healthy and Jacolby George and Young continue to develop, Miami could have enough threats on offense for Dawson to help the Hurricanes return to their form of 2021. How Cristobal and Dawson align will be critical in 2023.