I'm just going to raise the question because I know I'm not the only one who has thought about it since Saturday: Should Kyle Wright start against Oklahoma?
Look, I'm not trying to start a quarterback controversy. That's the God honest truth. God knows the last thing I want to ask Randy Shannon every week is 'Who You Starting this week, Coach?' But I've got to ask the question. Did Kirby Freeman play poorly enough in Saturday's 31-3 rout of Marshall for Shannon to give the starting job back to Kyle Wright this week? Shannon said last week that Freeman "gives his team the best opportunity to win." But after seeing Freeman on Saturday do you still agree with him? Freeman, who made his fifth career start, technically did what was asked of him. The Canes won and he made just one real mistake (one bad interception). But is this the guy who can lead Miami to a win in Norman?
As many of you in the on Eye on The U crew have pointed out, Freeman's 9 for 21 effort for 81 yards with 1 TD (a 1-yard pass) and 1 INT against Marshall wasn't exactly the kind of stuff you wanted to see against a team whose pass defense ranked 114th out of 119 last season. Granted, Freeman didn't get a lot of help from his receivers. Kayne Farquharson, Darnell Jenkins and Khalil Jones all dropped passes. But how much better would 12 for 21 for say 115 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT really be than what Freeman did accomplish? By my count, Freeman was 0-for-4 when attempting passes longer than 15 yards downfield. And of his nine completions, seven came in the first half (a few of which I'll point out were quick outlets to Lance Leggett. The kind of passes my coworker Susan Miller Degnan probably would have been able to complete too). Freeman was also just 2 for 8 in the second half with that real ugly INT.
Look, Shannon has said all along that all he wants his quarterback to do is get the ball in the hands of his playmakers and not lose games. And for most of this season, the Canes can probably get away with its usual winning formula -- a solid front seven and some ball control behind the legs of Graig Cooper and Javarris James. But after seeing what the Top-10 ranked Sooners did on Saturday (a 79-10 thrashing of North Texas), I think we can all agree that at least this game calls for someone who can do more than just manage an offense. As good and as improved UM's offensive line is, the Canes will see a much stiffer defensive challenge from the Sooners, who have the personnel to make sure James and Cooper don't escape as easily as they did against Marshall.
Now, I know there is the thought out there that maybe Miami and new offensive coordinator Patrick Nix were holding back a little against Marshall. Maybe, they didn't want to show OU "the real passing game" Nix and Miami's coaches have said throughout camp has looked solid. But don't you think last Saturday would have been a good time to at least work on that passing game a little bit?
If we go with what's happened on Saturdays before, Wright is the better candidate. Freeman's career numbers (51.8 completion percentage, 10 TDs, 11 INTs) pale in comparison to Wright's (59.5 career passing percentage with 26 TDs and 17 INTs). Like I said, it's just a question, feel free to chime in.
LOCKER ROOM TALK: Every week I plan to give you a little nugget of something I collect in the postgame locker room in this portion of the blog. This week, it relates to Miami's offensive line, which impressed me most of any group in Saturday's game. I spoke with Reggie Youngblood, Jason Fox and John Rochford after the game, who all said they were pleased with coach Jeff Stoutland's rotation of lineman in the game. Youngblood told me he didn't mind coming in off the bench behind Chris Rutledge. Rochford told me he played most of the game before being spelled by A.J. Trump late in the second half and said his one muffed snap was just a rare case of "human error." To hear what they said, click on audio link.
GAME BALLS -- Offense: Normally, I'd give it to Graig Cooper and Javarris James, who combined for over 200 yards. But they'll get plenty as the year progresses. I'm giving it to the offensive line for picking up just one penalty and not giving up a sack. That -- playing an entire game without giving up a sack -- only happened twice last year (Houston and Virginia). Defense: Tavares Gooden. He led the team with nine tackles, returned an INT to the one-yard line and played his best game as a Cane in my mind. UM needs him to be a star this season at middle linebacker. Special teams: Kick Francesco Zampogna. Tough to give it to anybody else considering the rough day Matt Bosher had punting and the kickoff Daren Daly knocked out of bounds.
LIVE Q&A Tonight: Just a reminder for you guys to leave me some questions this afternoon. I'll be answering questions live from 8 to 9 p.m. at Canespace this week and will hopefully have Northwestern defensive tackle and UM recruit Marcus Forston available to answer some questions at some point. See you tonight.