QB's Are "Completely Even"

Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman both had plenty of experience in 2006. Both looked good at times and both really struggled at times. What does 2007 have in store?

The University of Miami only has two scholarship quarterbacks on its roster for spring football. Both of them were high profile recruits coming out of high school. Both Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman were Elite 11 signal-callers coming out of high school. Big things were expected from both of them.

However, as 2006 proved, neither of them has been able to fulfill expectations at the University of Miami up until this point. Are they capable of it? Absolutely, especially if new offensive coordinator Patrick Nix is able to maximize their abilities in this offense -- something former coordinators Dan Werner and Rich Olson were unable to do.

Head coach Randy Shannon will be the first to tell you that while the quarterback play is key to any football team's success, it involves a lot of other people as well.

"I need guys on this team who are going to be winners and leaders," Shannon said. "Not just at quarterback. I need team guys. We need guys that are going to be team oriented. If the quarterback is doing great, the offensive line must be doing great. It has got to go hand in hand. We aren't looking for the quarterbacks to be the front-runners of the team. We are looking for the whole team to be front runners. When Steve Walsh started his first year he had a surrounding cast around him. Was he a leader at that time? No. He had a great surrounding cast around him. We want a bunch of winners and guys that surround each other with the same goals."

Both quarterbacks have all the physical tools to be successful here. Wright has the NFL build. Freeman has NFL type athleticism. Both have big arms. Lets take a closer look at what each of them brings to the table by analyzing how last season went for both of them.

2006 Performances

Wright started the first nine games last season, eight against Division 1A opponents. Sure, the Hurricanes were breaking in a pair of brand new tackles but he was the starter in all of 2005.

Florida State's team speed on defense and the Hurricanes' inability to run the football against the Noles caused Wright some problems. While he completed 18 passes against the Noles, he had just 132 yards in a game where the Hurricanes scored just one touchdown. Against Louisville, Wright had one of his better games. He threw for nearly 300 yards and didn't turn the ball over against a Cardinal defense that was among the nation's leaders in sacks. His best performance came against a Georgia Tech defense that ranked ninth nationally in pass efficiency defense when he was 20-for-31 for 246 yards and one touchdown. His worst performance came against Virginia Tech when he was under 50-percent, under 100 yards, and threw two picks with no touchdowns.

Freeman started his run with the Maryland game and while he had the luxury of playing behind an experienced offensive line, he had little experience himself. His best performance came in the bowl game against Nevada, when he threw for 272 yards and two scores.

Stats Don't Lie

The Hurricanes threw the football more when Wright was in the lineup. He averaged 29 attempts a game while Freeman averaged only 25. Wright hit 60-percent of his passes in his Division 1A starts; Freeman hit 54-percent. The level of competition, based on defensive pass ratings, was nearly identical. Both quarterbacks won half their games as starters against Division 1A opponents, while the Canes averaged 17.38 offensive points per game behind Wright while averaging 14.5 a game behind Freeman.

No Situation, Canes Will Wait

"Everybody is always concerned with the quarterback situation, but we don't have quarterback situation," Shannon said. "I don't know who is going to start right now. We have three walk-ons and two scholarship guys competing for that position. We are going to give them the best chance to win games for us and held accountable in practice. We will let you know who is starting the Tuesday before we play Marshall."

Whoever is named the starting quarterback at the University of Miami this August will have big expectations. Everyone wants to forget about the 7-6 season that was 2006. Everyone wants to forget about the struggles this position had last season. It's a new era. The last time Nix was coaching at Georgia Tech, his backup led them to 35 points in a bowl game.

The next several months will be critical for UM because of how much impact the quarterback has an a football team. Until then, just sit back and enjoy the competition because there figures to be plenty of it.


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