Redshirt senior Kyle Wright and redshirt junior Kirby Freeman are no stranger to battling each other for the starting job, as this will be the third year they line up behind center next to each other during drills. The last two years, Kyle Wright has earned the nod over Freeman, but this year there are a few factors which may tip the scales in Freeman's favor.
This winter, new coach Randy Shannon brought in Patrick Nix as the ‘Canes new offensive coordinator. Shannon and Nix have done an exceptional job of keeping tight lipped about their plans for Miami's new offensive system, but have released nuggets of information from time to time. Despite that, everyone outside of the Hecht Center Coaching Offices knows very little about what kind of system will be implemented. Nix has hinted that he does not plan on changing too much, but his statements are too broad to make any kind of prediction, especially since Miami ran many different schemes last season depending on which quarterback was in the game.
Why is the system important? Both quarterbacks have different strengths and weaknesses. It became clear that when Kyle was in, the offense ran a more traditional, single back offense and utilized an H-back.
When Wright was injured against Virginia Tech and Freeman took the reigns for the remainder of the season, the offense shifted to a more spread oriented attack and used multiple receiver sets to capitalize on Freeman's mobility. When Nix begins to implement his new system, both quarterbacks will be required to adjust accordingly. The one who adjusts faster will more than likely win the job in the spring.
Statistically, both quarterbacks were unimpressive, and analysis based on statistical performance would be a wash. Wright had more playing time, gaudier numbers (due to more games played) and a slightly better quarterback rating (121.37 to 113.37).
Wright's record as a starter the past two seasons is 13-7. Freeman is 2-2. On the field, consistency was a problem for both quarterbacks. Wright's main problem was pocket presence and taking the sack too often, something that has plagued him for two years. Freeman suffered from a bit of erraticism and at times made poor decisions that had a tendency to lead to points for the opposition.
For the coaches, media, and fans alike, the competition between Freeman and Wright will probably be the most important position battle of the spring. While many fans may see Freeman as having the intangible quality of being a "leader," and even go so far as to turn a blind eye to the mistakes he made on the field, ultimately it will be up to Freeman to win out the job based on a tangible performance in spring.
Wright on the other hand possesses the benefit of having more playing experience, but a sub par 2006 campaign marred with mediocre offensive output and injury has left a bitter taste in many a mouth. He will have to weather through rumblings that there should be a change made for the sake of change, because there are many fans who are convinced he has already had his chance.
Competition should get heated, as both quarterbacks have been quoted as saying they think they deserve to be the unquestioned starter, and media focus will be on how both young men handle the competition. It will be a very interesting spring at Quarterback U.
Spring Preview: Quarterbacks
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