Wright to replace Freeman as Hurricanes' starting QB

Updated: September 11, 2007, 4:22 PM ET
Associated Press

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- No matter the sport, no matter the level, there's been a constant throughout Miami quarterback Kyle Wright's athletic career.

Kyle Wright
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesAfter leading Miami on its lone TD drive against Oklahoma, Kyle Wright will get the starting nod at QB against Florida International on Saturday.

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 interception.

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 (59.4).

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 lose.

"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."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press