SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
7/24/2006 11:59:00 AM
The Wright Stuff
Kyle Wright will need to become a much more consistent thrower if he wants to lead Miami back to greatness.
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- First impressions can be admittedly misleading, but I remember mine the first time I dealt with Miami QB Kyle Wright, following the Hurricanes’ 27-7 win over Virginia Tech last season: Man, this kid seems way too passive to be the starting quarterback for Miami. Wright had to grow up in a hurry last season, and the fourth-year junior who attended ACC Media Days here Sunday seemed like a whole new person -- demonstrative, analytical and extremely confident for a guy who, the last time he donned a uniform, was part of a 40-3 Peach Bowl loss to LSU.
“It’s still crazy to me that we lost that game like that,” he said Sunday. “My name is tied to that for the rest of University of Miami history. I don’t want to go down as the quarterback who was part of a 40-3 loss. I want to go down as the quarterback who was part of the 2006 national championship.”
Wright’s first season as starter was a roller coaster. On some occasions -- like the Virginia Tech win and a 47-17 win at Wake Forest the next week when he threw for five touchdowns -- he showed flashes of brilliance, while at other times (a three-INT performance against North Carolina, a 17-14 loss to Georgia Tech) he looked lost. Part of the blame goes to his supporting cast, which wasn’t exactly stellar, and, if you read between the lines of Wright’s comments, the play-calling of former offensive coordinator Dan Werner. “I think we felt held back as an offense at times,” said Wright.
Werner was one of four assistants fired after the bowl game (he’s now at Ole Miss). The new coordinator, Rich Olson, brings 29 years of experience (the past 11 of them in the NFL) and has tutored the likes of Daunte Culpepper, Jake Plummer and Warren Moon. In his previous stint at Miami, he helped Gino Torretta win the Heisman Trophy. Wright says Olson has already helped him considerably with his technique. “Coach Olson worked on my drop -- I had a tendency to drop and squat,” said Wright. “He’s got me doing a good job of standing tall in the picket. I’m 6-4, there’s no reason to make myself 6-foot.”
I don’t doubt that Olson will have a positive effect on the offense. And Wright certainly has all the physical tools to be a great quarterback. As stated previously, I remain skeptical the Hurricanes will return to prominence this season because they still lack the type of elite playmakers they’ve had in the past. Receiver Ryan Moore is the best bet, but he’s been highly inconsistent. Ditto Lance Leggett and Darnell Jenkins. If tailback Tyrone Moss can return from his ACL injury by the start of the season, that would certainly help tremendously, but, like predecessor Frank Gore, it may take him a whole season to regain his full speed. And I wasn’t impressed with backup Charlie Jones.
Wright, not surprisingly, is far more optimistic. “I’m more confident going into this season than any year I’ve been here,” he said. “Offensively, we had the best spring we’ve ever had in terms of day-to-day practices. In the past, we’ve never been able to beat our defense in practice. It was almost counter-productive. But this spring we took it to the defense from time to time.
“We’re flying under the radar right now, and that’s perfect. Because we’re going to prove everybody wrong.”
I hope that we dont have to keep hearing about the 'Canes return to glory.
I hate to bring gloom to the eternal sunshine of the Miami fan, but the return to glory isnt happening as long as Larry "Choker" is around.
He can fire half his staff or all of his staff, but until Larry fires himself Miami has no chance of continued excellence.
Miami reminds me of the frustrating days in the 80s and 90s of being a USC fan. Once Coach Robinson left USC to go to the pros we were left with guys like Tollner, Smith, Robinson's failed 2nd stint, Hackett, etc. before finally getting lucky with Carroll.
Miami is a proud football powerhouse like USC was, but one bad hire after another turned into 20 years of waste for USC. Hopefully for you 'Canes fans "Choker" will be fired at years end before its too late.
"Choker" got lucky inheriting a team that Davis rebuilt and was able to win based on powerful recruiting classes thanx to the momentum that Davis had built up. Even though Miami will always get top talent simply because its Miami and because of the amount of talent that the state of Florida regularly provides to each recruiting year.
Lets be honest do you think if Larry "Choker" had to rebuild the team in the 90s he couldve done what Davis did? The answer you come up with should tell you all you need to know about whether he needs to be fired or not. By asking that question and by you answering honestly it should help reality set in for the Miami fans. Your coach STINKS!!!!
Yet, unless there is a change at the top and "Choker" goes then Miami will have its up and down seasons. Mostly seasons Miami fans consider mediocre, like 8-3, 7-4, etc.. Then a fluke monster season like 11-1 which will be based entirely on a few lucky breaks and the fact that Miami still gets talent in spite of "Choker".
I hope it doesnt take you 'Cane fans 20 years to realize you have the wrong coach and then proceed to hire one bad coach after another. You need to get a top flight coach now and there are plenty of them out there. Good luck to you guys. All I can say is go Trojans!!!!
the great teams under Davis was all about Coaching as they never had any top 10 recruiting classes. btw, Coker was the O/C during the "glory years" so he's responsible too. I'm thinking it's time for some "new blood" too.
The Canes return to glory? Yea, how about get rid of Coker, who can't recruit for jack. Yea I know he has a 59-9 record or something, but every year he's removed from Butch Davis's championship team, they get worse. It's gonna suck finishing 9-3 and going to the Peach Bowl one more time
Under the radar? Please. It's the "u" they're never under the radar. I just don't wanna hear any crying when they drop the first game against FSU. Yea it'll be close, but Rix isn't there to give them a gift wrapped win anymore. Come to think of it, maybe Coker should hire some body guards, he's gonna need them for this season.
Pretty darn good assessment. As a diehard 'Canes fan I am optimistic but very, very skeptical of Coker. Every time I think about how Butch re-built this program from nothing and wasn't there to reap the ultimate reward, it makes me sad. I look at Coker as the college version of Barry Switzer - he inherited a great team, maintained the status quo, let the talent do its job, and took the time to the promised land. If Switzer would have stayed in Big D, he would have no doubt driven them right to consecutive 5-11 seasons. I don't have anything personal against Coker, but I don't see him being a "Miami" guy. I sat right behind the bench in that Peach Bowl debacle and that team quit by halftime. It's the head guy's job to make sure that NEVER happens...
How can Miami be flying under the radar whrn they are picked to win the coastal division again? Miami has had the spotlight on it since it joined the ACC and from the looks of it it has not dimmed. They have not reached the title game and are in the tougher division than FSU, but every year since they joined they have been the favorite to win their division and the ACC. I fail to see how not living up to preseason predicetions equates to flying under the radar. They are still Miami and they are not going to sneak up on anybody.
I just hope Coach Choker can hang in there until 2008 when Miami plays Florida again in The Swamp. The Gators have been waiting for a chance to kick some Miami booty, and firing Choker would not help us in our quest. GO GATORS!
the last time the noles embarassed the canes was in the midst of probation years. and unless i've been alseep the last half-decade FSU hasn't exactly had a whole lot of success against the canes anywhere, let alone in Miami. an ugly 10-7 win last year has sparked all this bravado. Don't the noles still have Jeff Bowden as there offensive coordinator. That fact alone means Miami will at the very least be in the game in the 4th quarter.
To the other guy thank you for that very clever play on words with Coker's name. The use of the word "Choker", brilliant.
Although I would not go as far as to say embarrassed in the Orange Bowl, I do think that we will find out a lot about the Hurricanes after Week 1. If they can manage to beat Florida State, they will have my attention but I just can't see that happening with their current injuries.
I hope Kyle Wright and the Miami offence has improved since last year for the sake of all fans. The season opener against FSU was terrible and I am sure no one wants to see a repeat of the same. If it wasn't for such an awesome season for college football they would still be talking about the game that set offence back 15 years.
Miami is and always will be a premiere team. Changes are made to every team every year, and each teams deals differently. Miami will have to overcome personnel losses and live up to their expectation. And by the way, the Gators don't want any part of Miami, no matter who the coach is.
I don't know if i should say this but I know a few people in the UM athletic dept. and I am hearing very good raves about the new OC olson and some new type of offense. he has some type of blend and if it comes together watch out. maybe that's why wright is so optimistic.
Considering Miami's offense the past couple of years, the only thing they can do is get better. Couple that with a defense that is still one of the best and this team has the POTENTIAL to play for the national championship.