To me, one of the more surprising aspects of fan reaction on this site and social media in general following last night's heartbreaking loss to FSU, was the condemnation by some of the coaches.
Before anyone accuses me of being an Al Golden or Mark D'Onofrio apologist, I challenge you to talk to any of the staff on State of the U and ask them my opinion a month ago when I was fully supportive of change and potentially an overhaul.
So why this author's change of heart?
The team and the staff are rapidly improving.
In the first half of last night's contest, UM looked to be the better prepared squad.
OC James Coley was one step ahead of FSU DC Charles Kelly, and had Brad Kaaya in the best situations possible to succeed, time and time again.
Miami built a 23-10 lead behind 320 yards of total offense.
There were numerous observations like the one below, and Kirk Herbstreet was gushing over the first half game plan that Coley put in place on ABC.
What appears to be happening is James Coley is taking advantage of FSU's desire to shut Duke Johnson down. Kaaya seems ready to step up.— Brandon Odoi (@Brandon_Odoi) November 16, 2014
It is my very strong belief that the blue print for last night was to set up Duke Johnson for a big second half by opening things up with the pass.
And it worked.....to an extent.
Could or should have Coley expected the Hurricanes star runner to cramp up in the 2nd half, making the game plan less effective?
Although Joseph Yearby played well, the running game clearly took a step down on the instances where Johnson had to come off the field.
And had the 'Canes come out gunning in the second half and misfired, would it have helped a defense that ended up gassed in the 4th quarter anyhow?
Have we also forgotten what the bread and butter of this offense has been all season long?
The success of the first half passing notwithstanding, running the ball more frequently in the second half, was the right thing to do in my opinion.
As for the other side of the ball.
The 'Canes defense also executed a great first half strategy.
FSU went three and out on their first three possessions of the ball game.
I wasn't keeping count, but one fan apparently was....
Mark D'onofrio dialed up 8 blitzing plays already— Italian Stalion (@gino_diplomat) November 16, 2014
Not to mention the pass coverage was pretty air tight.
And the tackling was mostly outstanding, minus a few Dalvin Cook big plays.
In the second half, they just couldn't get to Jameis Winston.
If you go back and re-watch the game, it sure as heck wasn't because they weren't trying.
There were instances where they only rushed four. But more often than not either Jermaine Grace, Denzel Perryman, or the combination of both came after Winston.
They just didn't get there.
At the end, as mentioned above, they appeared gassed. Perhaps so much emotional energy was spent before the game and in building the lead, that they simply wore out.
But it seems like no matter what Mark D'Onofrio dialed up, they just couldn't get pressure. And that my friends, was the difference.
Tip your cap to the Seminoles offensive line as well.
So before we go over the top in blaming the coaches for the second half letdowns,
1) Give FSU credit for doing what they have done all season long and out playing Miami on the field.
2) Look closer at what exactly was called and why it did not work.
Everyone wants this program to return to elite status, and they want it like yesterday.
But over the last month Miami Football has made some serious strides.
The effort of the players is higher than it has been in a long time.
Just look at Clive Walford's 61 yard TD catch and run.
How many of you noticed Walter Tucker sprinting 60 + yards down field to level the FSU player at the goal line?
How many similar total effort/unselfish plays has this team made in recent weeks?
It's not always about X's and O's when it comes to coaching.
When you get players to play that hard for each other you are doing something right.
Can this staff improve in areas like time management, time out use, use of replay challenges, etc?
But the team and the program and heading in the right direction.... finally.
The coaches deserve a ton of credit, and for that reason, deserve at least another year.
All of them.