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Salomon: It's Time to Make a Change; Defensive Leadership In Question

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The Hurricanes are 2-2, with wins over FAMU and Arkansas State. They have lost to Louisville and Nebraska. Two losses on national television, in prime time. This is unacceptable. The fan base is calling for Al Golden's head. I am not willing to go in that direction as I believe that Golden is the man to lead this team and will eventually win a National Championship. However, notwithstanding the foregoing, it is time that they change the leadership on defense as Mark D'Onofrio has not shown that he can lead this unit effectively. He cannot motivate his players and they are not performing for him. Miami has too many good players to under perform on defense. The body of work shows that D'Onofrio cannot get the job done consistently against the better teams in the nation.

Could Ed Orgeron resurrect a once-proud UM defense?
Could Ed Orgeron resurrect a once-proud UM defense?
Stephen Dunn

As strange as it sounds, Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah might have done the Canes a favor Saturday night. He emphasized the obvious. He brought to light, on national television, the fact that Miami cannot stop the run and that the defense simply does not get motivated to play.

While he was slashing his way towards his 35 carry, 230 yard performance against Miami at Memorial Stadium, he might have punctuated the resume of Miami's defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio. It has become clear, in Miami's two losses, that he can not maximize the abilities of his unit and that he cannot get the players to tackle and play aggressive on defense. Unlike year's past, Miami has the horses to compete. They lack leadership and motivation at the defensive coordinator position. If D'Onofrio cannot win with these players, he is never going to win. Period. End of story.

With that said, it is time for Miami to cut bait with D'Onofrio and bring in someone that can motivate these players to perform to their utmost ability. I am all for giving second chances and giving coaches the opportunity to win back their respect and their jobs, but how long is this going to continue?  When you fear the Duke Blue Devils at home and what their ground game can do to you, it does not exactly give fans the warm feeling that they want going into a game.

What is Georgia Tech going to do to Miami in Atlanta, the following week?  Miami beat Georgia Tech the last two years, but did so in an offensive slug fest where the defense gave up clumps of yards and they were beaten off the ball and the Yellow Jackets ran all over them. Tech is undefeated this season and is playing very good football.

Does anyone have a number for former USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron, who as an assistant won two national titles at UM? How about former UM assistant coach Greg Schiano who served as Miami's defensive coordinator before becoming head coach at Rutgers? Orgeron told his wife that he would sit the year out, but that was when Nicholls State came calling last week. Would it be the same if Miami called? While at Miami, Orgeron coached Russell Maryland, Cortez Kennedy and Warren Sapp.  Orgeron might be the man to bring back the vim and vigor to a once-proud UM defensive unit.

I am not prepared to jump on the fire Al Golden bandwagon. I still believe that he is the right man for the program and that he will be a championship coach here one day. When? I cannot tell you, but I believe that he is putting the pieces in place to win.  I just think that the defensive leadership needs to be replaced.

The Hurricanes gave up 343 yards rushing Saturday night, a despicable number that is leaving fans and former players like scratching their heads and wondering what Duke is going to do to Miami this weekend.  If you recall, last season, Duke ran all over Miami in their upset victory that locked Miami out of the ACC Championship picture.  Plain and simple, Miami cannot stop the run and D'Onofrio cannot teach them or motivate them to perform at their highest level.

Compounding the problem was that everyone in the stadium and everyone watching the game on television knew that Abdullah was going to get the ball, over and over again, and they still could not stop him. They got the answers to the test questions in advance and still failed the exam. Nebraska did not show Miami anything that they did not anticipate. They got a healthy dose of what they expected and just could not stop it.  At halftime there were no quality adjustments made and the same problems that existed in the first half, existed in the second half.

The Canes were pleased that they only gave up 114 yards, total, to Florida A&M.  They were equally pleased that they held Arkansas State to 329 total yards. Arkansas State? Miami gave up 236 yards passing to a quarterback that received no offers from a Division I school.  Miami also gave up almost six yards per carry to Johnston White. That will certainly be the highlight of Johnston's career.

When you have to brag and boast about beating two lower-level opponents, something is wrong.  This is the University of Miami, owners of five national titles.  Miami has sent six players to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Miami has countless players in the National Football League. This is not a school that lacks history and fanfare.  Miami should be competing with the big boys and defeating them. They used to say that Miami does not rebuild, it reloads.

At present time, Miami is not what they used to be and the national media is destroying our credibility. The ESPN announcers made a mockery of UM at every turn Saturday night and point to the porous defense as the bone of contention and the reason why Miami can no longer compete on a national stage.

During his weekly teleconference with the media, Miami coach Al Golden defended D'Onofrio and compared the criticism to when the fan base wanted offensive coordinator James Coley dismissed leaving the training wheels on Brad Kaaya for too long in the loss to Louisville.

"If we're really honest, from what I understand there's a lot of the same people that wanted James fired after the first game. So, again, I think we've got to block all of that out....Obviously you can't please everybody, so it's not really about that. It's about doing what's best for your ball club," Golden said Monday morning. "We can't sit around and complain. It's not going to help us execute. It's not going to help us win the game against Duke. What we need to do is stick together and everybody, starting with me, take accountability for what didn't go right."

Those fans that were complaining about Coley, for the most, were not looking for him to lose his job.  Fans just wanted to see the playbook opened up and for Kaaya to be able to throw the ball deep and to see him involve the speedy receivers more often.  As for D'Onofrio, this is four years of horrendous schemes that have not worked. The body of work that is being criticized is long and arduous. He has been given more chances than Morris the Cat and he has failed at each of them. Miami's defense has not stopped a top-level opponent on the road during his tenure.

Miami has not had a signature road win during the Golden-D'Onofrio tenure. In order to win championships, you must stop the top teams and best players in the country.  The Canes have consistently failed to do that and it is therefore time for a change.

Coach Golden said on Monday that the fan base should, "take a deep breath". Fans are taking a deep breath coach. Right now, they are hyperventilating.

Golden also wanted to remind the fans that Miami was close to winning the game against Nebraska on the road. He is correct, Miami was close to winning. However, if the defense did not give up all of those yards and stay on the field for 17 and 12 plays at a time, they might have had enough time to score more points than they gave up. If they could get off the field on third down, a problem that they even have against mediocre teams, they would be able to get their explosive offense on the field more often.

Again, this is the University of Miami we are talking about, not Temple or Rutgers. Heisman candidates used to see their candidacies die against Miami. Now, Heisman-like seasons are born after games with Miami. This is a once-storied program that feared no-one and made players like Tim Brown cry during games.

The only crying that occurs now belongs to the fan base after getting scorched week in and week out.