JUNIOR KYLEWRIGHT MIGHT JUST BE THE NEXT GREAT HURRICANES QB--IF THE O-LINE IS ABLE TOPROTECT HIM
2005 RECORD 9-3(6-2 in ACC Coastal)
KEY RETURNEES WRRyan Moore (Sr.) Caught 28 passes for 464 yards and four touchdowns last year;DE Baraka Atkins (Sr.) The 6'4" 275-pounder has 14 career sacks and 201/2tackles for loss; FS Brandon Meriweather (Sr.) Led Canes in tackles (115),tackles for loss (13) and interceptions (three).
BIG MAN ON CAMPUSAdd Greg Olsen to the list of game-breaking tight ends (Jeremy Shockey, KellenWinslow Jr., Bubba Franks) who've gone through Coral Gables. At 6'5" and252 pounds, Olsen has the hands and speed of a flanker, creating matchupnightmares for opposing defenses. He had 31 receptions for 451 yards and fourTDs as a sophomore.
Kyle Wrightalways noticed them, standing on the sideline, their eyes riveted on his everymove. Bernie Kosar, Gino Torretta and Steve Walsh rarely said anything toWright when they attended practice last season, but their presence was a vividreminder of the tradition at Quarterback U. "Those guys have nationalchampionships and Heisman Trophies," says Wright, a 6'4", 220-poundjunior. "I've got a lot work to do if I ever want to be as good asthem."
Wright got downto business in the off-season. When he wasn't in class or in the gym, he couldusually be found alone in the film room, analyzing every offensive play fromthe Hurricanes' 2005 season. What did he learn? "I wasn't as consistent asI need to be, and I made too many mental mistakes," says Wright, whocompleted 58.6% of his passes for 2,403 yards and 18 touchdowns in his firstyear as a starter. "I felt like I improved in the spring, and now I've gota higher comfort level with my receivers. Plus, we're all playing with a chipon our shoulder after how things ended last year."
Last Dec. 30, LSUspanked Miami 40-3 in the Peach Bowl. The debacle, which capped a secondstraight 9-3 season, prompted coach Larry Coker to bring in six new assistants.His hope is that the fresh blood will pump up a program that's five yearsremoved from its last national championship. "Sometimes you need to go in anew direction," says Coker. "It helps that we have Kyle. He has achance to be the best quarterback I've ever been around."
Wright, who wasnamed the 2003 Gatorade Player of the Year after his senior season at MonteVista High in Danville, Calif., was under constant pressure last year, when hewas sacked 34 times. Because only one starting lineman returns, new offensivecoordinator Rich Olson plans to use more three-step drops and quick-hit passesto ensure that Wright stays upright. Those schemes will be put to an immediatetest: a Sept. 4 home opener against Florida State, which four players will haveto sit out after violating a team rule.
"We're goingto be more balanced, and I'm going to be a lot better now that I have a year ofstarting experience," Wright says. "We're going to surprise a lot ofpeople."
DAVID BERGMAN (WRIGHT)