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UM’s Garcia proving to be a fast learner
QB Garcia proving to be fast learner in spring drills
Miami Hurricanes freshman quarterback Jake Garcia’s performance in his first college scrimmage was impressive back on March 27, and it was made even more so Tuesday, when UM coach Manny Diaz revealed Garcia wasn’t cleared for team competition until the day before the scrimmage.
Getting a share of first-team reps with also-young-but-more-experienced quarterbacks Tyler Van Dyke and Peyton Matocha,
Garcia went 15 of 19 for 188 yards and a touchdown in the scrimmage. He has been recovering from a lingering foot injury that dates back to the end of his high school senior season.
“Jake looked like a guy that day that has been around a long time, that was not in awe of the moment, was very comfortable, in addition to the fact of the throws and all that other stuff,” Diaz said Tuesday.
It has him eager to see what Garcia does in a second scrimmage on Saturday, the final one before Miami’s spring game on April 17.
“You did a good thing. OK, now you got to keep going,” Diaz said. “It’ll be very interesting to see what happens at the end of this week and how it looks for Scrimmage 2. There will be more defense in, more stuff coming at you.”
Garcia is proving to be a fast learner, but in this spring session, as he competes with Van Dyke and Matocha before starter D’Eriq King returns from his knee rehab for the fall season, but he still has much to add to his game.
“I’ve gotten a good grasp of the offense so far in the little time that I’ve been here,” he said, adding he needs to pick up defenses better. “In high school, you could get away with a lot of stuff, just with going straight to the concept or just little things like that. But in college, I mean, it’s a faster game and you have to have that mental part of the game down.
“I’ve been working closely with [coaches] and in the video rooms just trying to pick up different coverages, and I get tells pre-snap made by a fake clap or things like that, just to be able to get a tell before I snap the ball where I should go with the ball and just be able to process things quickly.”
Garcia said the early morning workouts in college have shocked him, and he felt like he arrived when the Hurricanes had their first practice with helmets on this spring.
“When we got out there, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is crazy. I’m seeing it on TV, dreamed about it as a little kid, and now you’re here,’ ” he said. “It’s something I don’t take for granted. I just want to make the best of my opportunity.”
While the three youngsters compete in the spring, King has been active in helping their development.
“Despite D’Eriq being out, he’s been very helpful to me Jake and Peyton,” Van Dyke said. “He’s always watching film with us, getting us better, asking us questions to challenge us. And then on the field, after his treatments, he’ll come out and ask us why we threw that ball or ask us what we saw. I think he’s been very impactful for all of us.”
In working with offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, Van Dyke has had an emphasis in improving his run-pass option.
“They’ve stressed it on me that’s going to be big for me,” Van Dyke said. “Reading and all that, the RPO game, when to hand the ball off, when to throw it. I feel like we’ve done a lot of pocket pass and stuff where they just really stressed that, trying to make quick reads, stay in the pocket and make the throw. Unless you need to escape, but I feel like they’re really stressed that.”
Van Dyke has been encouraged by the competition in the spring and feels all the quarterbacks improving.
“We’re all pushing each other,” he said. “We push each other to be better, in the film room, on the field. We’re also encouraging each other. Like, we urge each other and not wanting each other to mess up. We all have a good relationship. We all tell each other what we need to work on, what we saw on that play. To be that guy, I feel like it just comes with leadership, and knowing what you got to do and making the right plays, making the right reads.”
Regardless of their progress, Diaz is still confident King is ready to start in time for Miami’s Sept. 4 opener against Alabama.
“If you’ve got a dollar to bet on who our starting quarterback is, he probably wears No. 1, last name that rhymes with Ming,” Diaz said.