This is the second time I’ve used this photo I whipped up for Kyle Wright. Last time I posted it for a pre-game article before last year’s 13-10 home loss to Florida State. The picture itself was snapped on the sidelines during the 40-3 loss to LSU in the Peach Bowl.
A few big games in the Wright era and a few big time losses. Outside of the 27-7 win at Virginia Tech in 2005, Miami has faceplanted in too many big game opportunities. Enough is enough.
No disrespect to Texas A&M, but the Aggies aren’t the Sooners. They’re a good 3-0 squad ranked #20 in the nation – not a great one.
Wins over Montana State, Fresno State Louisiana-Monroe don’t say much. Nor does the fact that MSU torched the Aggies’ defense 304 passing yards and 403 total yards. ULM put up 348 total yards last weekend and that’s on the heels of a triple overtime win against Fresno State. aTm may be 3-0, but in two of those wins the loser had more total yards than the Aggies.
On the other hand, we have Miami and the great unknown. The U looked like they came to play against Marshall in a 31-3 win, but ran into a buzzsaw a week later at Oklahoma. The Canes hung tough at times, but a lack of depth and moxy resulted in the wheels falling half halfway through the third quarter. In the blink of an eye, 21-13 became a very disheartening 51-13.
Last week, FIU and even more questions as the Canes pulled out a lethargic victory. It was Miami’s best offensive output yardage-wise in the past two seasons, but a lack of redzone scoring and a few untimely turnovers were the difference between the 23-9 final score in what could’ve, would’ve and should’ve been a 41-3 outing against the lesser foe.
Last weeks biggest blunders can be attributed to Wright. 10 of 19 for 224 isn’t the end of the world, but the two interceptions and fumble are. You can get away with that against FIU. Do that tonight against aTm and the Canes are gonna get rolled.
There was a bright spot in a long 80-yard touchdown to the erratic Lance Leggett, but like Wright, Leggett needs to get much more consistent and needs to bring it in the bigger games. Big time scores have less of an impact when you’re dropping third down receptions or quarterbacks are chucking endzone interceptions when in the red zone.
Next week marks the start of ACC play, but make no mistake – tonight is pretty much a do or die game for these Hurricanes. A national television audience tuning in and a ranked opponent headed to town for the last Thursday night game in the Orange Bowl, where the Canes are 10-1 in these late week ESPN showdowns.
Texas A&M needs this game to prove they’re legit, while Miami needs this opportunity to prove they’re not as far off the radar as the Oklahoma ass kicking might imply. The Canes also need some early season momentum after opening the 2006 campaign 1-2. From a psychological standpoint, 3-1 is night and day from 2-2. Especially with Duke and North Carolina on the docket. A win tonight and Miami has a great shot at a 5-1 record heading into the October 13th home showdown against Georgia Tech.
The defense returns some depth – especially on the defensive line and in the secondary, so there will be some extra help in stuffing a three-headed rushing attack. But make no mistake, tonight’s outcome will be decided by the Miami offense.
Defense has carried these Canes too far the past few years. It’s time to start scoring some points and aTm provides the perfect opponent due to a suspect secondary and the fact that some lesser squads have proven that the ball can be moved with ease against these Aggies.
As the picture says, it’s gut check time for Wright. Benched to start the season, called upon to make some plays against the Sooners – earning him his job back – and the chance to start last week for the first time this season. Tonight is ‘go’ time for #3; the first of nine real-deal ball games between now and late November.
If the Canes are going to make a run in the ACC, they need to start gaining momentum this evening and it’s on Wright to make the throws and manage this game. He has two great running backs in Javarris James and Graig Cooper as well as a much improved offensive line and a go-to receiver in Darnell Jenkins.
Maybe I’m drinking the Kool Aid or maybe I just feel Miami is due for a good game tonight in the Orange Bowl. It ain’t FIU, brother. It ain’t FIU. This is Thursday night football. This is a 3-0 team who gives up a ton of yards and the stage is set for a breakout game for the Canes. Here’s hoping our kids know what’s in front of them for the taking. I’m a believer… for now. Are U?
23, Texas A&M