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Let the Kyle-Kirby debate begin

Kyle or Kirby. Kirby or Kyle. No, this isn't what coach Randy Shannon wants this spring to be about. But whether The Commander likes it or not, it is the No. 1 question more than 1,000 fans showed up to try and at least shed some light on Saturday when the Hurricanes held their first scrimmage of the spring. And at least through these set of eyes, the choice looks easy. Kirby Freeman should be the starter.

KirbyfreemanYes, Saturday was only the first scrimmage. And yes, there are two more scrimmages.  But if UM's new offense is going to operate the way it did Saturday, Kirby is the obvious choice. It's not that Kirby played better than Kyle on Saturday (Freeman was 13 of 24 for 189 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs; Wright was 15 of 41 for 82 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs). It's that Kirby looks like he's the better fit.

This offense Patrick Nix debuted for the public Saturday was not West Coast quarterback friendly. It wasn't built for somebody who needs a solid, experienced offensive line, some burners on the edge who can go deep and haul in 20-yard passes downfield. It looked like it was built for someone like Vince Young, a scrambler, who can fake a handoff to one running back up the middle, run the other direction and decide whether or not to pitch it or keep it for himself. Or scrap all that and pull back and pass.

"Our offense is so unpredictable now," said fullback Jerrell Mabry, who hauled in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Kirby Freeman for the first of three touchdowns on Saturday. "We can have a run play and a pass play called at the same time, but you never know what we're going to do. The quarterback has a choice. He can run the ball if he wants to, but if he sees an opportunity to pass the ball, he can do that."

KirbyfreemanmugThat's Freeman. You may hear The Commander -- if he ever decides to speak on the quarterback situation -- say Wright is athletic enough for this offense. But that's not what Wright came to UM for. He came to make plays with his arm. And right now it doesn't appear UM has the receivers or the line to make that happen. Aside from that, Wright is still throwing too many interceptions. He threw two Saturday eerily reminiscent of what he did often last year -- overthrowing open receivers or flat out failing to see defensive players in the wings.

This offense, which will be based around the running back talents of Javarris James and Graig Cooper (I'll get to them in a minute), needs a quarterback that can avoid those mistakes. For the moment, it seems like Freeman holds the edge in that category too. For the record, it was Wright who came out and quarterbacked first on Saturday. He quarterbacked the opening two drives. But I'm not sure we should really make too much of it. Shannon doesn't want to shake any of his quarterbacks' confidence right now. And since Wright is the incumbant starter, Shannon probably felt it necessary for Saturday's scrimmage to take place in that order.

GraigcooperAside from the Kyle-Kirby debate, the other reason 1,000 fans were excited to watch Saturday's scrimmage was because of the guy wearing No. 2, freshman Graig Cooper. Super Coop didn't have a spectacular day. But there were glimpses of the shimmies and shakes that have made him sound just like the player his teammates have been talking about since he arrived on campus. Cooper had 34 yards on 10 carries by my count (since there were no official stats, I was among the few journalists who actually charted every play). He also caught two passes for -2 yards, plays blown up by an aggressive defense, which oh by the way still looks like the fifth-best defense in the country it was last year.

Back to Cooper. I asked the 6-foot, 195-pounder from Tennessee what he has learned in his two weeks of practice at UM. To my surprise, he had trouble answering the question. "What I've learned. Let me see. That's a hard one right there. I've learned the offense. Just being me, playing my part."

Cooper stumbled to answer the question because the offense hasn't stumped him. It's the same offense he ran in high school and at prep school, where two talented backs tear up the turf without a lead blocker. UM's running game didn't do much treading Saturday. The running game was held to 79 yards on 47 carries, a result more of a good defensive front and only six healthy and tired offensive lineman. But at least we learned one thing -- James and Cooper are by far head and tails better than anyone else UM has its in backfield. James led all rushers with 38 tough yards on 16 carries. Charlie Jones, the guy who was the starter last season for three games, had -14 yards on 9 carries. Derron Thomas, the fourth RB, had 6 yards on five carries.

I really would prefer not to venture on how the receivers and offensive line did considering the injuries sustained there and because UM really didn't do a whole lot of deep passing. In fact, Lance Leggett was the only player to haul in a pass further than 20 yards down the field. He made a spectacular over the should grab with cornerback Chavez Grant and safety Lovon Ponder on him for a 45-yard gain. Leggett then celebrated by drawing a penalty for excessive celebration (the scrimmage was officiated). He finished the day with 7 catches for 102 yards and a 9-yard touchdown catch from Wright to finish the scrimmage. It was a good sign for a guy who should be doing that on a regular basis. 

I'll be back to add more in a bit. I'm at Doral for the third round today.


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Dont matter if its kirby or kyle either way we gonna be screwed if we cant run the ball cause neither one is a game-breaker that can take us to the next level.Gotta cut kirby a little slack cause he hadnt played much but when he did he looked lost.And how the hell kyle or berlin made it to D-1 is still a mystery to me.Not to mention i'm tired of the o-line and receivers takin much of the blame for piss poor qb play which has plagued us for 4 straight seasons.O-line cant help it if qb refuses to get rid of the ball and take coverage sacks and receivers cant catch balls behind them or 15 yards ahead of em.Yeah they had some dropped balls but probably wouldnt of got 2or3 yards had they caught em.I hope and pray that i'm wrong about our qb's but let us all hope that Marve is the perfect back-up plan.

It really didn't help changing the offense and the firing of coaches that have been there for the past 25 years.

good info omar still rules

Manny sometimes I wonder if you watch the games/practice witha blindfold on. Neither QB looked very good, Wright had an average start, bad middle, and strong finish. KF looked okay throughout although it's still evident that he can't make the necessary throws - and don't say neither could Dorsey...we don't have Johnson, Moss, and Wayne at WR to make up for a weak arm. Since you mention that you are the only journalist tracking every play, why didn't you notice the int KF threw? Why didn't you mention his TD came on a screen pass? Why didn't you mention the other ball KF threw right to Grant but was dropped?

You make me think of the idiot fans there today saying how this is going to be an option offense w/ a running QB and thus its definetly gonna be Kirby. This was the FIRST scrimmage, and it was open to the public. They were running random formations that they probably just installed over the last week. Nix will run a pro-set style standard Miami offense and if you think KF is the guy to run that, then I guess your blind hatred for KW is gleaming.

MDCANE86, and fellow canes, here is another way to look at the scrimmage. I hope you guys enjoyed it.
Shannon making his point

By Omar Kelly
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted March 25 2007

CORAL GABLES – Miami's defense was caught offside before the ball was snapped. While some defenders stopped, the play wasn't ruled dead.

Quarterback Kirby Freeman saw receiver Lance Leggett streaking downfield. Even though safety Lovon Ponder and cornerback Chavez Grant were draped over him, Freeman threw it anyway.


Leggett jumped between the two defenders and brought the 30-yard pass down. Caught in the excitement of the scrimmage's biggest play, Leggett spiked the ball, drawing a penalty that pushed UM's offense 15 yards back.

New coach Randy Shannon ran 40-plus yards to Leggett and gave him an earful. After practice, Shannon had Leggett do 200 yards worth of up-downs as punishment for his showboating.

"You won't have to worry about me throwing the ball down again," said Leggett, who was the star of the scrimmage.

Those antics go against the team-first message Shannon's trying to get across this spring.

"I keep saying we've got to get the team down before we worry about individuals," Shannon said. "He cost us 15 yards and now it's harder to call a play from the 20 [yard line] than it is from the 5."

While Leggett's play was impressive, most of the estimated 1,000 fans came to scrutinize quarterbacks Kyle Wright and Freeman, who each had their good and bad moments.

Wright completed nearly half his passes for under 100 yards. He threw two touchdowns, one was a 9-yard pass to Leggett that closed the scrimmage.

Wright was also picked off twice.

Freeman threw for nearly 200 yards, which included a 35-yard touchdown pass to fullback Jerrell Mabry.


Pahokee defensive tackle Micanor Regis became the first prospect to commit to UM for the 2008 signing class. Regis, a 6-foot-3, 296-pound standout, told Shannon after Saturday's practice.

"I've wanted to commit for a while, but I wanted to see some more evidence that the program was headed in the right direction," Regis said.

Commitments aren't binding until an athlete signs a letter-of-intent in February.

I can,t tell you how happy I am to hear what Coach Shannon did to address the Leggett situation. You just know this goes against the grain with him. It is so unlike what he is all about.
Even if the Canes don't have a great season this year, it will be so gratifying to know the showboaters are going to be dealt with. It absolutely sickens me every time I see these self absorbed prima donnas cost the team yards or a score because of their out of control tendency to have to show off. Hey Lance, after Coach gets finished with you, grab a dictionary and look up the word humility.
Go Canes
P.S. And don't give me that crap about them still being kids and cutting them some slack. I played high school football and would have embarrassed myself, my school, my teammates and my family had I put on that kind of a disgraceful exibition.

I've gotta admit, I've always liked Kyle as the better of the two qb's. I like the big on on the fifteen yard in route, and he's more comfortable pick, than him being a real good qb. I felt like eventually he was gonna pull it all together, and give us what we need. I might be wrong! My knock on Kirby is that he kinda plays like a chicken with his head cut off. Might be able to scramble, and make a great play (see Nevada-bowl game), or might get flustered, and make a terrible play trying to do too much, and costing us the game (see V-Tech). In my mind its always been a choice between one dude not doing enough to win the game, and the other trying to do too much and costing us the game, and with our defense I figured we should take the safe route. Not so fast my friend. If Saturday's scrimmage was any indication of what we should expect, I've gotta roll with Kirby. Kyle continued to struggle. He was still indecisive, and holding the ball too long, throwing it late, throwing it high across the middle, and was reluctant to throw deep. Kirby wasn't great, but he showed much improvement, and wasn't scared to go downfield. Plus his obvious advantage of mobility makes him seem like the right choice. The only bad thing is I have a feeling that Kyle will look good next week, and Kirby will look more like that wild headless chicken, and pretty soon we will have the worst thing in football.... A quarterback contreversy.

Honestly, after watching film on all 3 quarterbacks I like Robert Marve the best. If by the time training camp is over he is comfortable with that offense, he can lead our team better than KF or Wright. Wright overthrows too many balls and KF runs around like a chicken with his head cut off. Marve would be a perfect fit for the traditional miami offense where we pound the ball, run screens, and run playaction bootlegs to the tight end or wide out downfield.

Its still early.Lets be fair Wright has had plenty of starts so if he losses the starting job it nobodies fault but his own.Freeman has
had several starts.I don`t care who starts as long as they win!!!!!!Coach Shannon doesn`t owe anybody a start.If you perform best you are the starter.Seems simple to me.

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