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Reading Between The Lines: QBs, RBs

One thing that has changed under coach Randy Shannon's reign is the approach by he and his coaches to avoid talking about individuals and to focus on the team. When the previous administration was in place, you could ask Larry Coker or one of his now departed assistants about which player was going to start and which player was doing the best at a particular position and he would answer that question honestly.

Shannon's approach is different. He wants everybody to look good, he wants to keep all injury information in house and Shannonmake sure everybody continues to work hard by saying the right things in the media. For his team, it's a great approach. Everybody is happy through camp and everybody keeps believing they have a shot at playing. For us, who are trying to cover this team and make sense of what's really happening out at camp, it makes our job tougher. Before, Coker and his staff were much more up front and would tell us what was happening. We'd report the news and what was said during the week usually played out on Saturdays. In a sense, those days are now over. Now, we have to make the best educated guess at what's happening out there from what little we gather from coaches and what we get from the players and provide you with the best insight we can.

In a way, that's part of the reason I've stayed away from simply passing along the rehearsed answers Shannon, offensive coordinator Patrick Nix and others have been feeding us this fall. I mean, aside from "guys flying around and playing hard" and "everyone is competing and has a chance to play" what have they really told us anyway? In the next couple days, as the team begins school and practices are held off until later in the week, I'll attempt to read between the lines of what we've been hearing out at camp this fall, tell you what I think you guys can expect from all three units and try to answer the questions I've constantly come across during camp. Today, I'll start with the offense and the most important position first.

Quarterback
The big questions: Who is going to start? And are Kyle Wright or Kirby Freeman any better?
What's been said: Shannon, Nix and every player on the team has been careful to answer this question when posed even in round-about-ways as, 'So, who has been playing the best? or 'Who really is throwing the best ball?' The general response really has been "both are doing great" and "both could start."
My take: What you're hearing competition-wise is truly what's happening out there. Wright_2Neither, Kyle Wright or Kirby Freeman has set themselves apart this fall. One day, we hear Kyle has thrown a few TD passes. The next day, its Kirby who we hear is tearing it up. Both quarterbacks I believe have improved -- just not significantly. In the end, though, I believe the fact neither quarterback has truly outplayed the other has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the coaching staff -- especially in the aftermath of the loss of freshman quarterback Robert Marve. The day Marve was lost for the season, the variables involved in the Kyle-Kirby quarterback battle changed. With Marve healthy, Shannon and Nix would have insurance if the loser for the starting job got sour on the bench. They might have actually been able to give Freeman the job without worry. But now, in a much tighter race, I think they have to give the starting nod to Kyle, even though in the end, assuming Wright's recent knee trouble is not serious, both will end up playing (with Freeman spelling for a few series). As I've said in a few Q&As before, I don't believe Wright could handle being beaten out for the starting job, especially after he's held it for a few years and is now a senior. Shannon knows Kirby can handle it and will continue to push. If Kyle struggles in the early going, he can at least say he gave him a shot and thus replace him for the better of the team.

Running backs
The big questions: Can Javarris James and Graig Cooper coexist in the same backfield?
What's been said: Coach Shannon made me chuckle when he accidentally called James and Cooper 'butt buddies' on media day. He was simply trying to say how close Cooper and James have become. And they Jamestdhave. Talk to both, and all they do is compliment each other.
My take: Expect Cooper and James to become 'Ball Buddies,' because both are going to be carrying the load for the Canes this season. Cooper, though, will likely be the guy who catches more balls out of the  backfield. In open space, he's been described by the teammates to be the most dangerous player on the team. With what I've seen of Graig_cooperhim in practice, I can't disagree. I get the sense the running game as a whole will be the strength of Miami's offense. Assuming both can stay healthy, Nix in my mind will do all he can to keep the ball in his RBs hands the majority of the time and out of potential passing situations where Kyle or Kirby can turn it over. But if Cooper or James gets hurt, Miami's offense will likely have to shift gears a little bit. There is a big drop off from the No. 2 running back spot to the third. Junior Derron Thomas can make some plays, but the way you hear players talk about Cooper and James I really wonder how many touches he'll get. If senior Charlie Jones, who we have seen walking around with a boot on his foot is hurt bad, then freshmen Lee Chambers and Shawnbrey McNeal might get a few carries. But most likely only in blowouts and  late game situations.

Live chat reminder: This week, I'll be back on Canespace from 8 to 9 p.m. Tuesday night for a live chat. Please leave your questions for me after this blog, so I'll have a few in hand to answer. 

Comments

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thanks for your info I guess we all find out next Tuesday who the QB wiil be as well as the other starters

Manny, I think it goes against everything Randy has said if he names a starter even partly because the guy might not be able to handle being on the bench. That says that guy is either weak or not a team player. Either way its not the type you want starting at QB. That type of guy can't be a leader and if its close the guy who's the better leader will probably get the call since that means more in the pursuit of wins then does appeasing an either weak or selfish player. Plus Kyle has had a fair chance of winning the job and has had it unfairly for 2 years, no sour grapes should be coming from him.

wait so your saying because wright might not be able to handle being benched that we should start him even if freeman will be a little better for us right now. That is not the way to run a team and i don't think shannon would do that he is gonna but the best players on the field period.

Manny, you have to comment on "the team is getting overworked" statement rom the Inside the U... What is your take?

great Post Again..

Just to clarify...

I'm not saying Wright is going to get job because he can't handle being benched. I'm saying they are dead-even right now. And if Randy has to break that tie, part of his reasoning will likely be those other factors. Had Marve been healthy and Freeman outplayed Kyle clearly, then I think Kirby could have won the job. But since he hasn't set himself apart from Kyle and they are both basically tied for the starting job, I think Kyle is going to get the starting nod for those reasons.

Manny,
I agree with you if Kirby has really not set himself apart as being head and shoulders better than Kyle. Then you have to go with Kyle as the Senoir then if he ends up playing bad and holding on to the ball to long bring in Kirby.
I was kind of hoping Kirby would set himself apart so we could have him starting for 2 yrs.

I personally DON'T believe that they're dead even right now in the eyes of the players, coaches, and especially Shannon. He DEFINITELY knows who his choice is for starting QB..I believe it has been clear to him since the spring and the fall practice has only made his choice a no-brainer.

The O-line is the key to both's success.

I don't think RS plays politics..this could be a good or bad thing in different situations and circumstances.

No dought Zakkee without good protection neither one of these QB's are going to look good. I got so frustrated last year with everyone steady blitzing us and the coaches would not adjust. Hopefully this regime will make the proper adjustments during the game. I really like Kyle and hope he can have a break thru year but it would be nice for Kirby to get a full year at the helm going in to next season.

I agree with Zakkee 100%. I also agree that it would be nice to see Kirby as a 2+ year starter. But let's be honest, we just need our QBs to avoid the big mistakes. If the OL is as improved as some think, Baby J and Super Coop come through, and the D stays dominant, the U will be just fine.

Manny, i think if its tied on the field it goes to intangibles. you said most of the guys followed Kirby more and that would seem like something that would separate them more than the other stuff. ultimately i think whatever the coaches use to make the decision will only be things that will make a difference in the W/L columns. either way i feel confident the team will win a lot of games this year.

I don't care who starts at qb. I just want someone that is not going to lose the game for us.

Whoever starts at QB this year is keeping the position warm for Mavre next season. We don't need spectacular play from our QB we just need someone to manage the game and avoid making stupid mistakes.

just manage the game and don't make stupid turnovers. once in a while throw the ball long to stretch the defense so we can pound our running backs and control the ball. make sure we don't give up easy field position. most teams can't drive the length of the field against our defense.
there is not one team on our schedule that can beat us if we take care of the football and eliminate costly turnovers. we need a quarterback to be a team player. I think Steve Walsh was a great example of managing a game. Look how many games he won.

http://wqam.com/ eve of upheaval, QAM previews U 7p-10p with Coach Jimmy Johnson!

Why was everybody hyping Marve? We don't know if he can play. Seriously, weren't the Fans doing the same thing with Kyle Wright during the Berlin era?

I am not hatin' on Marve, but I would advise everyone to reserve judgment until we see something on the field.

Besides, throwing every pass as hard as you can means absolutely nothing. The Miami QB's that won championships did not have a reputation of having "strong arms". They had players on the outside, or better yet, they helped make the players on the outside - by throwing catchable balls.

I like Kyle Wright, and I am pulling for him(It would be a great story for him to come out on top). But Kirby's arm strength fits the mold of a UM QB. However, Kirby makes too many mistakes(takes chances) and runs too much, instead of just running the offense. I understand they didn't have really good Coordinators but, I have seen both of those guys enough.

If I were the opposing teams, I would play it close and pressure the QB to make him beat me. I don't think either one of those guys have proven they are capable. Neither have the WR's proven they can "dominate" a defensive back.

Because of this, I hope Miami runs a lot and utilizes screens to Cooper and James to relieve the pressure from the Quarterback. I thought Coker/Werner/Olson put too much on Wright..He has some tools, but he is not a once and a life-time player like Ken Dorsey..Maybe those guys thought it was their coaching that made Ken Dorsey. But Dorsey had an "edge" that you can't coach.

If Kyle has developed into a QB, I want to see if the coaches took some of the "air" out of his deep throws. If he throws a flatter ball I think he would be able to hit players in stride.

I triple the comments on just give us some protection from the O-line, some solid running from our stud backs, and a QB who can "manage" the game a la Dorsey and Walsh...

Having said that, here's my question...
"Manny, who, in your opinion, is the one KEY offensive lineman out of the bunch?" (And Why?) I know the whole unit is extremely important, but pick one if you can. Any Outland Trophy candidates?

I surprised Manny has time to answer questions. Consodering all time he takes comtemplating #3's feeling on a matter the much hyped QB has complete control over I thought he would be too busy. This is why #3 gets ripped.

It has less to do with him and more to do with fans and now a member of the media and their asinine reasoning. According to Shannon, #3 is all about team and whatever is best for it. He should handle not being name the starter just fine if thats the case

But let's be honest, we just need our QBs to avoid the big mistakes.
Posted by: BamaCane | August 20, 2007 at 02:35 PM

NO!!! We want a QB who is a leader, who takes charge, who takes some risks, who motivates his TEAM!

I am NOT going to settle for a "just avoid the mistakes", go three and out and let the D win the game. That approach is so LAST year!

This year we play to win, to dominate, to crush the opponent under our massive will to win, NOT to play it safe and hope to squeeze out a 2 point victory.

Manny I think you may have fallen into the "Rudy Trap". Rudy got BLASTED for saying Randy was working the team too hard, and now you got some backlash for worrying about Kyle's "feelings". No mercy from the fans!!!

JJ is the MAN! Coop will get his chances, but JJ will be the primary back this year (more carries and yards and TDs).

Coop will break the long runs and score on some spectacular plays this year, but he is another year away from "super star" status.

I agree with Manny, I say start Kyle against Marshall and give Kirby a few series. However, if Kyle struggles against Marshall, bench his *ss and let Kirby start against Sooners.

Manny...what will be the first play called by Pat Nix from the line of scrimmage this year?

Tell us about the LB position. What do you know about what's happening there?

What, if anything happened to NcNeal (injury) in the scrimmage? Is he OK and going to be ready for the opener as a PR/KR?

Soup, I agree. In an ideal world, I would want the same kind of QB. But look at situation the canes are in. By all accounts, THEY DON'T HAVE ONE. So all I'm saying is since we don't have that prototypical leader (i.e. Dorsey) let's deal with what we've got.

From stats that I have heard, seems Kirby is doing quite a bit better than Kyle, I would be surprised if he does not starte. Nix will probably get to pick the quarterback based on what he wants to do with the offense, sure Shannon can over rule him but doubt if he would at this stage.

Kyle couldn't handle being beaten out
You mean it would hurt his feelings?
There's no 'feelings' in football.
THERE'S NO FEELINGS IN FOOTBALL

Jeez What kind of chardonnay sipping, Kumbaya singing, weepy estrogen filled blog is this anyway

Why not tell us how the U's colors aren't really orange and green but pumpkin and kelly.

Or how there's nothing like curling up in a plush robe with a nice cup of chai and watching Brian's Song, Radio, Rudy and Win One for the Titans all in one sitting.

I can't wait to read your next posting.
It'll probably be about shams and throw pillows or tailgating without the transfats.

I'll bet your footballs were Nerf.

Who else is sick and tired of hearing that we need a quarterback that just "manages" the game.

How about a QB that goes out and wins games.. ala.. Jim Kelly, Vinny, Bernie Kosar, Walsh, Erickson, Torretta, and Dorsey..

interesting take on the QB race. from what i've tried to gather from the more reliable posters on various message boards Kirby has outplayed Kyle with regard to big plays. i disagree with your opinion that Kyle will start. while i agree with your logic you cannot deceive the players. if they have been told the best person plays then you have to stick by it. if they see Kirby has outplayed Kyle then it doesn't matter about Kyle being a sour grape on the bench. Coach Shannon must and will do the right thing and start Kirby.

for the past 2 years i've been so frustrated by our willingness to go deep. i don't care about an interception on a deep pattern. to me it has always been as good as a punt and it gives you the benefit of keeping the opposing team's defense honest to respect the big play. i want the QB who is not afraid to pull the trigger. i think Kirby is our man to start the season with.

correction to previous post..it should read "lack of willingness"

correction to previous post..it should read "lack of willingness"

Who else is sick and tired of hearing that we need a quarterback that just "manages" the game.

Posted by: nick | August 20, 2007 at 10:57 PM

Uh, Nick after my rant above I think that clearly would be ME! If have said ALL along that Kirby should start if for simply no other reason than I can't take another season of Kyle "playing it safe".

If Kyle starts and he holds the ball too long and take a few sacks the O goes 3 and out during the first couple of series against Marshall, I will not be held responsible for my actions.

You will understand won't you?

Manny...questions for tonight:

Which new assistant coach, aside from Nix, will have the biggest impact on the team this year?

Which freshman will have the biggest impact on O and on D this year and which one is most likely to play in the first game against Marshall?

tossing & turning, I couldn't sleep; I'm so excited! AN-TIC-I-PA-TION

http://www.miamiherald.com/457/story/209828.html herald's barry jackson: "UM trustees' 17-person executive committee includes lawyers Dean Colson, H.T. Smith and Aaron Podhurst; Chuck Cobb, CEO of Cobb Partners and former U.S. ambassador to Iceland; and William Morrison, president of personal financial services for Northern Trust Corp." DREAM TEAM

http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/story/209424.html herald's greg cote: "Wouldn't an option have been to give the city more time to guarantee the balance of the money while the structural renovation was taking place?" time's up, greg cote! wish in one hand, spit in the other, see which fills up faster ...

unless Kyle improved by leaps & bounds under Patrick Nix's tutelage, start Kirby!

ALERT: 10:30a press conference

Hi MN:

Can you blame Shannon! When you write: Before, Coker and his staff were much more up front and would tell us what was happening. We'd report the news and what was said during the week usually played out on Saturdays. In a sense, those days are now over. Now, we have to make the best educated(NOT) guess at what's happening

I like that Shannon keeps his cards close to his chest! My perception is that you and your fellows take a statement taht is freely given and then turn it into a NEGATIVE, your paper lives on the gloom and doom principle! YOU guys need to wake up to the fact that not all news has great specific gravity, it is not all bad news. If it bleeds it leads, is okay for mullet wrappers, but you need not follow the lemmings off the cliff.

But then again. . . after reading the rest of your breakdown, I find your style of reporting as if you may be seeking out the Watergate master mind in Shannon's crew, who is the Deep Throat, and to simplfy, who cares what you think! YOUR job is to report!!! Say what you see, not what you want us to believe! Get over yourself and do your job and you and your, mullet wrapper might survive the information transformation!!!

TWSTONE Cane Class of '92

Someone said Dorsey and Walsh are examples of QBs "managing" games.
This is crazy!!!! Those guys surgically dismantled teams. They saw the play happen and reacted positively.
The best example of managing games from a QB is maybe Dilfer with the superbowl Ravens.
Walsh and Dorsey were not college Difers.

Someone said Dorsey and Walsh are examples of QBs "managing" games.
This is crazy!!!! Those guys surgically dismantled teams. They saw the play happen and reacted positively.
The best example of managing games from a QB is maybe Dilfer with the superbowl Ravens.
Walsh and Dorsey were not college Difers.

Someone said Dorsey and Walsh are examples of QBs "managing" games.
This is crazy!!!! Those guys surgically dismantled teams. They saw the play happen and reacted positively.
The best example of managing games from a QB is maybe Dilfer with the superbowl Ravens.
Walsh and Dorsey were not college Difers.

HOW ARE COOPERS HANDS?

http://hurricanesports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/082107aab.html watch the 10:30a press conference

http://www.miamiherald.com/598/story/210237.html MOMENTOUS

Thank U

kudos to barry jackson for owning this story! PREEMINENT

U will no longer hear: "our stadium is better than yours. nyah-nyah!" U can proudly say "our world-class, state-of-the-art stadium is better than all. up yours!" STROKE OF A PEN

If Kyle is hurt then Kirby should be the starter anyway.Whattup BamaCane? Nice to know I have a fellow Canester in good ol'boy usa!

Manny, Welcome to the club of getting blasted. People want our opinions, but then we give them and we are quick to get blasted on and criticized for having them.

Just because people are reporters doens't mean they don't have opinions. Everyone has an opinion. Period. So to blast on Manny and call him all kinds of names is ridiculous.

Intelligent debate is one thing, but when you start insulting, you take it to another level. Don't be the internet tough guy.

That is the entire point of a BLOG. It's an opinion. You do not report NEWS on a blog. You talk about different topics.

I, for one, completely agree with Manny. He makes a lot of sense. Most you have absolutely no idea what players say OFF THE RECORD. The fact is, Kyle Wright is a senior and will be in the NFL Draft next year. Kirby Freeman still has another year even if he does happen to get beaten out by Robert Marve.

But if Freeman was to beat Wright out, it would kill Wright's chances to get drafted. Unfortunately for 'Canes fans, you have this belief that it all ends with the University of Miami. That's not the case. A guy like Wright does have the possibility of being drafted and playing professional ball even if we don't think he's that good. So it goes way deeper than just starting particulary for a guy who has started for two years already. If Shannon starts Freeman, in Wright's mind it would have to be, Freeman absolutely outplayed me and deserves it, but if it's at all close, I'd bet the bank Wright gets the job. Do I necessarily agree with the theory? No. Of course not.

I prefer Freeman as the starter. I have preferred him as the starter since the BEGINNING of last year. But I also know that Kyle may start whining and crying if he doesn't get the nod and then you'll find out what a wonderful teammate he turns out to be. I mean that in the most sarcastic of ways. There will be so much infighting it will be ridiculous.

However, if he starts, blows it and Freeman is then given the job, there is nothing he can really say.

The one thing I disagree with from Manny is that I don't think it's that close. Every time we ask a question of late, it's Kirby threw a touchdown to this one or that one. I've not heard much on Kyle in terms of that.

But people, let's relax with the shots we take at people whether it's the comments you make to Manny or even my blog.

Again, I ask, try a 17 hour a day work week for three weeks and tell me how you feel. Most of you would drop face first in the first five days without a day off. And it doesn't matter whether you are 22 or 42.

Hi Manny,

Thanks for the info. I would like to know what kind of offense Nix is running? When Shannon first got hired a friend of his who was quoted in the paper said he believes in a pro style offense that takes some shots vertically. It seems though that Nix is running a one back offense. I believe that is a horrible mistake. You don't win with a one back offense.

When we began running a one back offense toward the end of the 80's teams started figuring out that all they had to do to shut down that offense was stack 8 or 9 in the box and blitz. Alabama did it to us in '92 and we netted about 125 yards with a ton of talent. When Coker inexplicably started running it last year it was horrible. I told my friends before the season that Coker was signing his pink slip when he did it. Sure enough, FSU loved that we ran it and did exactly what coaches have figured out works against a one back. They blitzed every play and we looked horrible. I believe Shannon will squander the talent on this team if he runs that ridiculous offense. What do you think?

Also, Kyle Wright has been so screwed up by this coaching staff since he got here. He has more talent in his pinkie than Freeman does in his whole body. When he got out of high school I read articles where pro and college quarterbacks said he was the most amazing quarterback they had seen. The guy never made mistakes, he threw very few interceptions and always knew where to put the ball. When he came in as a freshman they threw him into a game for no reason in a no win situation on like 3rd and 25 from our own 15 and the other team blitzing every down and with momentum completely on their side. He of course was totally overwhelmed and had his confidence shattered for no reason at all. He has had 4 coordinators running 4 completely different offenses in his 4 seasons here.

Kirby Freeman has shown that he has no clue. So he can run. Who cares? He makes bad throws and bad decisions constantly. He pulls the ball down and tries to run way too early.

As far as maturity goes, Kyle Wright has been the one all along who has held his tongue and acted like a total professional through all the garbage he's been put through. Freeman on the other hand threatened to leave when he wasn't given the starting job and people have been dancing around the issue ever since.

Freeman was given the chance to run the team last year and played worse than Wright even though he hadn't been put through all the trash Wright had. He reminds me of Jay Fiedler when he was with the Dolphins. Everyone would say how athletic and mobile he was. He got sacked more than Wright even though he was more "athletic". Do you feel that Freeman is that much better than Wright?

I have believed since the mid 80's that if Miami runs a pro style offense they will end up in the top ten every year and play for the championship 50% of the time. Other than the years we were on the ridiculous probation it was the case that we either won, should have one, or played for the championship in in'83,'86,'87,'88,'89,'91,'92,94','00,01'02. They ended up in the top 10 a couple more times during that stretch. We only had a problem with the 3 offensive coordinators in 3 years since our last stolen championship.

They have so much talent and their "D" is so strong they almost can't help but succeed if they run a pro style offense and take some time off the clock. That gives the defense a chance to rest and also keeps the defense from blitzing constantly because there are extra blockers in for protection.

Please say something about the offensive scheme as I can't find info anywhere and I have not been able to get to the practices.

Thanks

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