On the bright side of things, UM is 2-0 this season coming off of a loss.
Small consolation, I know.
It's been a gut wrenching (agida anyone?) week in Coral Gables, with coaches and players facing wave after wave of criticism.
How do they react?
What can they do to come away with the win tomorrow afternoon?
Here are my 3 keys to victory Vs the Bearcats:
#1 Find the cure for the common hangover - All week long Al Golden & his players have deflected and deferred questions about the discontent of the fan base, not to mention that of former players who have questioned the staff quite publicly. And more than a few media members have also asked about the in-game strategies (justifiably so) of AG and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio. To a man the players and staff have all said they don't pay attention to "outside noise." And in a way, that is a smart approach. One less distraction. But how about the team's confidence in the staff and in each other? Coming off of another disheartening loss it would be human nature to be somewhat discouraged. But football is a harsh sport, and an athlete or team going into a game with an unclear mind will find that out in a hurry, especially against another quality opponent. Senior leaders like Denzel Perryman and Shane McDermott as well as younger leaders like Brad Kaaya need to gather the team and muster the concentration to give a great effort. This is no time to feel sorry for themselves.
#2 Find a remedy for the third down allergy - The numbers are staggering......
Miami is now tied for last in the nation in 3rd down rate (23.81). Also tied for last in 3rd down conversions (15) with ... uh ... Temple.— Matt Porter (@mattyports) October 5, 2014
How can any team with players like Duke Johnson, Brad Kaaya, Phillip Dorsett, Herb Waters, Stacy Coley, and Clive Walford be this bad on money downs?
If you take into consideration the 95% of the time teams punt on 4th down, UM is the essentially one of the worst in the country on offense on 33.33% of its' plays.
This has to change... now! There's too much talent on that roster offensively. OC James Coley needs to scrap the bubble screens and the empty sets on 3rd down and get the ball to Duke Johnson more often.
The good news?
This Saturday, high noon in Miami Gardens: Worst 3rd-down offense (Canes) vs. Worst 3rd-down defense (Cincy) ... SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE.— Douglas Kroll (@dougkroll) October 6, 2014
Something has to give!
#3 Give Cincinnati a case of Sun (Life) Exposure - It's a noon game (albeit in October and not September) in Miami. Over the years teams from up north have often wilted in the humidity come the 4th quarter. The 'Canes should push the tempo, and try to burn out the Bearcats. Of course all of that is null and void if #2 can not be fixed.
There you have it 'Canes fans. If Miami can put last week behind them, execute on 3rd down, and make Cincinnati feel the heat, they should improve to 4-3 this season. Sorry for the poorly used medical theme.