Bang Bang Tyler & Pitt

Tyler Van Dyke

As the curtain raised, the lights dimmed, and the show began, I heard a soft yet familiar 1960s era Nancy Sinatra song that was most famously used in the non-linear neo noir opening of Kill Bill: Vol. 1 playing loudly in the distance and quickly drowning out the rowdy crowd at Heinz Field:

“Bang bang, I shot you down
Bang bang, you hit the ground
Bang bang, that awful sound
Bang bang!”

Bang bang Tyler shot Pitt! Not to be confused with the Cheesecake Factory menu favorite, this is the best way that I can summarize the amazing performance that young Tyler Van Dyke also known as TVD aka Tyler Van Roosevelt aka “Mr. They Can’t Stop Us” aka the original American Don Dada better known as “Glock 9” put on for the Canes Mafia this past Saturday. Between Van Dyke and Herro there are going to be a lot of Miami babies named “Tyler” in this upcoming generation. To say that I was impressed by this young gunslinger doesn’t truly encapsulate what his performance meant to all of us who bleed orange and green. It was like a catharsis of long-awaited epic Hollywood cinematic proportions. What a win! What a game! Speaking of epic Hollywood cinematic classics, I haven’t seen a trigger man behind enemy lines go on the road, walk into Heinz Field, and totally destroy it since Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises.” It was like a bomb went off after Pitt’s initial possession, before they knew what hit them it was 21-7 and the blossoming Canes were off and running.

The anxious happy feet in the pocket which caused inaccurate throws and the indecisiveness causing frustrating interceptions that plagued TVD in his first two starts are gone. They are completely erased from his game like they were never a problem to begin with. Van Dyke has gone through a jaw dropping period of rapid improvement and rapid intensification. Which makes sense, he is a Hurricane after all. Tyler went from a Category 1 to a Category 5 seemingly overnight. The left-over sediment that remained after going through his on the job training and filtration process are all of the qualities of a polished and refined veteran quarterback with supreme arm talent. The kid has a cannon for an arm, throws accurate laser beams on frozen ropes to any spot on the field, and he is improving in his reading of defenses every week. Jake Garcia picked a tough time to get injured because TVD has the starting QB1 position in a headlock now. What’s even better is that Tyler is bringing his team along with him and making his teammates better. TVD’s expedited decision making, snake strike quick release, pocket presence, and serviceable mobility is helping his offensive line out. His propensity for throwing timely dimes is making his receivers better and opening up running lanes for the “Rooster” Jaylan Knighton. Miami actually has tight end sightings in our offense again! Arroyo and Mallory both had big touchdown catches during the early blitz of those Pitt Panthers.

Let me also give a special shout out to offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee as well. His play calling during the game Saturday was masterful. If Bob Lee Swagger is Van Dyke’s inspiration, then Lashlee’s inspiration is Van Gogh. His play calling against that vaunted Pitt defense was a tour de force. A work of art. A masterpiece made by a master. Lashlee was aggressive right from the start. He did not allow that opening score by Pitt or the major loss on the sack on Miami’s first offensive play to cause him to go conservative on the first drive. Coach Rhett opened up the playbook and let his sniper go to work finding Key’Shawn Smith streaking down the left side numbers on a 3rd and long but gotta have it down that would set the tone for the rest of the game. The pinpoint accurate pass was a 50 yard slingshot throw that TVD lofted over the head of the defender and into the arms of his receiver with ease. It ended up being a 57-yard gain because the throw arrived in such an accurate way that it allowed Key’Shawn to run after the catch. The pass also arrived with the belief that the Miami Hurricanes belonged on the same field with the #17 ranked team in the country and they were not there to play games. The Canes came to break hearts, kill dreams, and win the game. Bang bang, that beautiful sound.

The Canes scored 31 points in the first half for the first time since the 52-10 beat down of Florida State in Week 3 of the 2020 COVID season. But unlike in that game, 24 of those 31 points were scored off the strength of the offense generating touchdown drives on it’s own. Rhett Lashlee dug deep into his playbook and called a trick play to get another quick strike touchdown on the next possession. A fake double reverse from Knighton to Restrepo that ended up getting tossed back to TVD who threw a perfect strike to Mallory blazing down the sideline for another touchdown had my mouth hit the floor. TVD had a previously unheard of passer rating of 456.4 at that point! Then on the ensuing offensive possession, Lashlee called some outside bubble screens to spread out the Pitt defense and then called a perfectly timed inside run for Knighton that went to the house. The double team run block by DJ Scaife and Jakai Clark supplemented by Zion Nelson and Navaugn Donaldson pulling to seal the backside opened up a hole in the B gap for Knighton to blast through and the Rooster’s rockets did the rest. It was 21-7 before we could blink or catch our breaths. Coach Lashlee has this offense playing some amazing football right now.

I would also like to commend the young guys in the defense who are showing dramatic improvement in open field tackling. There were many moments in the game where Keontra Smith, James Williams, Kamren Kinchens, Corey Flagg, Bradley Jennings, and DJ Ivey found themselves isolated in 1-v-1 situations where more often than not they made the big solo tackle to stop the damage right then and there or dropped the Pitt player for a loss after hanging on to allow their teammates to rally and gang tackle. Also, when the offense struggled to generate points in the 2nd half the defense stepped up and created a huge turnover in the redzone and got key stops to secure the win. We have some things to clean up in coverage for sure because Pickett had himself a career day of throwing for over 500 yards, but to hold the Heisman hopeful to 3 touchdowns and picking him off twice, once by Tyrique Stevenson and once by the true freshman James Williams, was enough to get the road win. The defense also did a great job early in the 4th quarter of not falling for Pitt’s trick play pass to Pickett which held Pittsburgh to a 3 point field goal try instead of allowing the touchdown which turned out to be the difference in the game.

Like all masterpieces of poetry, the game came back full circle to its central theme at the end of the game. Van Dyke the gunslinger had the ball in his hands backed up against his endzone and needed two first downs to ice the game. The tunes from that Kill Bill intro song started queuing up again. I could hear it’s old western melodic instrumentation gradually getting louder. On the first play of the drive TVD checked the play to an ill advised shotgun run which almost turned into a disaster as Knighton barely escaped getting tackled in the endzone for a safety which would have given Pitt two points and the ball back only needing a field goal to win it. The fans at Heinz field were crazy loud and for a brief moment I couldn’t hear the “Bang Bang” song playing anymore. Then on the ensuing play TVD stood tall at the back of the endzone and delivered a fastball outside for a strike to Charleston Rambo. It was such a monumental throw the ESPN camera guy couldn’t catch up to it live. The fans at Heinz went silent and the disc jockey turned up our “Bang Bang” song on full blast. Bang bang he shot Pitt down. Bang bang, that winning sound! For a brief moment our hearts were in our stomachs as we saw Mallory get the game ending first down then fumble it backwards and out of bounds behind the 1st down marker for a 4th & 1. This situation would have certainly presented Lashlee and Manny with a tough decision to make. Thankfully, the replay revealed that the ball rolled out beyond the 1st down marker and the game was essentially over. TVD’s final round to Mallory was enough to put Pitt down for good. Bang bang that beautiful sound, the freshman shot Pitt down.

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2 Responses

  1. Your article with music to my ears being a canes fan since they had a quarterback nickname The Matador I really needed this

  2. First time I’ve read your writing. I must say this is one of the best articles in terms of entertainment value mixed with play by play I’ve ever read. That’s saying something as I’m 65 years old. Nice work you’ll go a long way in this business.

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