Wright back under center for Canes against Virginia
Being unable to play hurt even more.
So Wright -- less than three weeks after suffering sprains to his left ankle and left knee -- will be back under center Saturday night, when the Hurricanes host No. 23 Virginia in the game that'll end Miami's 70-year run of calling the Orange Bowl home.
"I've got my RoboCop ankle boot on, but at this point, it is what it is," Wright said, pointing to the hard plastic brace protecting the joint. "I've just got to still get as much treatment as possible and try to get better, but it felt great to be back out there as opposed to standing and watching, which was very hard to do."
Wright was injured in the second quarter of Miami's game at Florida State on Oct. 20. Even with an off week to heal, Wright still wasn't able to play in last Saturday's 19-16 overtime loss to North Carolina State. Kirby Freeman started and went 1-for-14 with three interceptions.
Wright watched that one from the sideline, in uniform but aching. He said he isn't "100 percent" and added he doesn't expect to be by season's end, either.
"At this point, I'm trying to push through it," Wright said.
He's done enough to satisfy coach Randy Shannon, who said Tuesday that Wright was back as the starter.
Shannon has said numerous times in the past three days that the passing struggles were not the only reason why the Hurricanes lost to the Wolfpack, and reiterated those thoughts to Freeman during a meeting Monday.
He summoned Freeman for the chat, which turned into a pep talk of sorts.
"I didn't want to say anything," Freeman said. "I knew God gave me two ears to listen and one mouth to speak, so that means something. I just wanted to go listen to him and see what he had to say to me, because coach Shannon can be pretty inspirational."
So while insisting he still has faith in Freeman, Shannon seems eager to get Wright -- who has completed 88 of 142 passes this season for 1,240 yards, nine touchdowns and nine interceptions -- on the field.
"Kyle's fine. He's ready to go," Shannon said. "He was trying to do it last week in warm-ups, but he couldn't get that push and step into the football. When you don't have that, you don't have the velocity on the football."
The move wasn't unexpected; Wright told reporters after the N.C. State loss that he believed he'd be ready to play Virginia.
"He'll be fine. We won't put a player out there unless they have full mobility," Shannon said. "I would not do that as a coach."
It's a crucial game for Miami (5-4, 2-3), which still needs one win to become bowl-eligible -- and could still capture the ACC's Coastal Division title with three wins and some help from around the rest of the league.
But Wright said he won't be thinking about the ACC picture on Saturday, citing it as a possible distraction.
"I think we've kind of gotten caught up in that the last couple weeks," Wright said. "I think we need to go and play. We just need a win. That, by far, is the most important thing."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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