QB Freeman Wins First Game as a Starter

As the banner of fallen Hurricane Bryan Pata lay softly on the turf where he once played the game he loved, his teammates kneeled around it in sorrow for their beloved brother. Tears slowly crept down their eye-black patches, which proudly displayed the number of their slain family member.

The scene was not only symbolic of the emotional night at the Orange Bowl, but in a way it also personified the hectic and dramatic season for the Miami Hurricanes.

On a chilly Thursday night it South Florida, the Hurricanes welcoming 18th ranked Boston College would usually be a big deal, but not tonight. Not with the numerous juicy subplots circling the program. Would Coker be fired? Would the Canes become bowl eligible? Yet, amidst all of the drama and questions, a football game was still played in front of a small but inspired crowd.

And while not as important or attractive as some of the other events in Coral Gables lately, another controversy is quietly building as Kirby Freeman strongly makes his case for the starting job in 2007.

Freeman entered tonight with a 0-2 record as a starter, compiling 288 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns and interceptions through his first two games.

He also chipped in with 61 yards rushing on the ground, an added dimension not seen with original starter Kyle Wright. Luckily for Freeman and Miami, they would both get a much-needed win tonight against the Eagles.

In only his third career start, Freeman powered Miami to a victory behind a career high 187 yards passing. On display tonight was a full arsenal of Freeman's strengths, one of which, his ability to run the football. He contributed 23 yards on the ground, including a crucial 9-yard scamper to pick up an important third down conversion.

Freeman also exhibited his talent to produce big plays. 30 plus yard strikes to Greg Olsen and Ryan Moore helped set up two of Miami's touchdowns as Freeman helped march the Canes into the red zone with two long strikes.

However, no attribute displayed tonight is more important than Freeman's resilience. This was never more evident than on Freeman's first touchdown pass of the game, which came immediately after a costly interception for a touchdown. After falling down 11 points heading into the half, Freeman found wide receiver Lance Leggett in the end zone for a touchdown, capping Miami's 74-yard drive.

The drive, which consumed just under a minute, cut the deficit to 3. It was this series that revealed the most important part of Freeman's game; his will to persevere.

Despite throwing three interceptions, Freeman remained confident as well as calm throughout the night. Never afraid to make a mistake, his gunslinger mentality stayed intact as he continued chipping away at the Boston College defense. It's this part of his game that makes him the hopeful savior of many Hurricanes' fans.

It was only Freeman's third career start, and it showed Thursday night with erratic play. While he did commit three turnovers, he also should glimpses of brilliance with long passing plays, scoring drives, and the ability to move the ball, which should have any Cane fan excited. However, what cannot be taught in a film room, weight room, or meeting room, is Freeman's heart.

His distinct capability of never wavering in the face of adversity is a quality needed in a starting quarterback, especially at the University of Miami. One thing is for certain; Kirby Freeman is making the starting quarter back position a very tough decision to make next year, no matter who the head coach is.

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