CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- No matter the sport, no matter the
level, there's been a constant throughout Miami quarterback
Kyle Wright's athletic career.
Until this season, he'd never been a backup.
"I've never had to deal with that in any sport since I was 6
years old, sitting on the sidelines and watching," Wright said.
"Definitely a different feeling."
That feeling is gone. After being the second-stringer for
Miami's first two games, Wright is again the Hurricanes' starting
quarterback, passing Kirby Freeman on the depth chart for
Saturday's game between Miami (1-1) and Florida International (0-2)
at the Orange Bowl.
If Miami coach Randy Shannon gets his way, this will end what he
calls a "round-robin deal" at the position.
"It won't be one week Kyle and one week Kirby. It's going to be
the Kyle Wright show for right now," Shannon said. "We're going
to go with him, we're going to trust in him and believe in him to
get us to where we need to be."
Through the season's first two weeks, Miami ranks 118th out of
119 major college schools in passing offense. Only Navy -- a
run-dominated team with just 19 throws this year -- has put up fewer
passing yards than the Hurricanes, who are averaging 84 per game.
Miami's 3.7 yards per attempt are also second-worst among the teams
in what was known as Division I-A, behind only Akron (3.6).
Shannon said he wasn't shocked by those numbers.
"That's why we need to make changes and do some things that we
need to get done," he said.
It will be Wright's first start since Miami played Virginia Tech
last Nov. 4. Wright broke his wrist that day and missed the
Hurricanes' final four games of 2006, then lost the starting job to
Freeman in training camp. But Freeman struggled in his two starts
this year, going 12-of-30 for 98 yards with one touchdown and one
Wright came in to replace Freeman early in last week's 51-13
loss at Oklahoma. He was the more effective of the two, going
7-for-14 for 65 yards and a touchdown, compared with Freeman's
3-for-9, 17-yard effort.
"Kyle came in the game against Oklahoma and gave us a little
spark," Shannon said.
Wright is 14-7 as Miami's starter, with 4,123 yards and 27
touchdowns in 24 career appearances. He has completed 59.3 percent
of his passes, a rate that ranks fourth-best in school history
behind Bernie Kosar (62.3), Vinny Testaverde (61.3) and Steve Walsh
He came to Miami five years ago touted by just about every
recruiting service as the best high school quarterback in the
country. But the numbers have never matched the expectations, and
Wright acknowledged that the last few weeks since losing the
competition with Freeman were humbling.
"It was difficult to swallow at first," Wright said. "But
like I said, the only thing I wanted to do was go out every day and
work hard and just be ready when I got my opportunity. As hard as
it was, being a senior and a two-year starter, I had to accept
that. That was a coach's decision."
Wright gets one more chance to lead a Miami offense that has
struggled at times in recent years. Freeman will have a package of
plays in the weekly game plans, but for now, the job is Wright's to
"Don't take this like we're putting Kirby Freeman down. Kirby's
always going to be a good quarterback. You need two quarterbacks,"
Shannon said. "Kirby, the first two games he started off and did
some good things, but we needed more. ... We feel like right now,
this is the best way we can win games."