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A Killer Instinct And Figuring Out a Better Way to Schedule

What we saw saw last weekend was a Canes team that is in need of a "killer instinct." Can they find it before the Clemson game?

This is a picture of Al Golden. Enjoy it.
This is a picture of Al Golden. Enjoy it.
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

When thinking what to write about the latest victory by our Canes I had two thoughts that kept popping into my head. The first was that Miami needs to work on closing out games (i.e a “killer instinct” if you will) and also the ACC scheduling needs to be rebooted completely.

The fact of the matter is, both the coaching staff as well as the players needs to take it upon themselves to close out games, neither is blameless. There are a number of examples during the 30-20 victory over Virginia Tech where Miami could have pulled away and they simply did not. The best microcosm would be the series where Miami had a first and goal from the Virginia Tech 2 yard line and had to yet again settle for a field goal. On second down from the one yard line, the coaching staff dialed up a shotgun formation that resulted in a no gain hand off that left Miami fans….fuming. Now, the next play, the third down call was the correct one. The Canes lined up in a standard goal line formation and the play call looked to be to run a handoff to the left side but when Brad Kaaya went under center to receive the ball he fumbled it (was not a bad exchange, Kaaya straight bobbled the ball) and the Canes had to settle for a field goal.

Of course #CanesTwitter is probably more frustrated with the second down call than the muffed third down play but really both are a prime example of what the Canes are still working towards: a killer instinct to put teams away. This coaching staff was not “readymade” when they were put together as a staff, simply put. Now, as the seasons have progressed it’s gotten slightly better. The defense has blitzed more, they’ve gotten to the quarterback; and the offense has started to become more balanced (remember the Whipple hail-mary’s every other play?) so we’ll have to see how the rest of the year progresses for both units.

Now, my next topic is a little off course but relates to the Canes and the overall ACC: the scheduling process needs to change. Essentially every year it seems to be Miami and one or two other teams get hosed by playing the same tough cross divisional ACC opponents every season, there’s no exception to this. Last season Miami played FSU as their standard cross rival and their other Atlantic opponent was… Top 25 Louisville..right. This season, swap out Louisville for another top talent in top 5 opponent Clemson and a Cane fan has to start asking: “really?”

Compare this to Duke who is synonymously known for playing cream puff out of conference opponents almost every year. Their cross division rival in the ACC is Wake Forest and in ’14 their other opponent from the Atlantic was Syracuse who went 3-9. In ’15 their other opponent was Boston College who they pillow fought to a 9-7 win. Lovely.

This is just one example but there are more throughout the conference. We could look at NC State who tries the same scheduling mantra as Duke who enjoy playing out of conference patsies and then get further assistance from their cross over scheduling. I won’t take credit for my possible solution, I saw this about a year ago in our fan blog and thought it was the best solution to cease the ridiculousness that is the ACC scheduling.

The first step is that each team will have three permanent rivals that they will play year in and year out. An example, Miami could possibly play FSU, VT and BC. Feel free to list others but for the sake of this example we’ll go with those. So, in theory, Miami will play those three teams every single year and switch off home and away.

The ACC currently plays an eight game conference schedule with four out of conference opponents (how you define Notre Dame is up for your interpretation). Now that three in conference games are taken care of the last five games will be circulated throughout the rest of the conference. The rough math I have going would mean each ACC Team plays through the entire conference in about two seasons. After two rotations (so, four years) each team will have played each other twice and each game would have been a home and away game so... all things would be equal.

Lastly, the Conference championship game would be played by the teams with the two best conference records; there would be no more divisions. There is a chance that one team may get the shaft due to their three cross rivals being really good one season and then their other five teams as well but the odds are unlikely, to be honest. This way of selecting games in the conference gives the kids a chance to play in every single ACC venue during a four year career on campus and also balances the overall opponent’s schedules for everyone.

What do you think about the above scheduling format? Let us know in the comment section below!