This started as a response to the excellent round table posted this morning. It got too long; I didn't want to hijack their thread, so here it is as a FanPost.
None of us are happy with Saturday. I've not been terribly happy with the state of play all season. Here are some of my thoughts:
1.To me, what's most distressing is the lack of improvement we've seen in our first 6 games. We are pretty much where we started out; my sense is that we are not going backwards so much as other teams are getting better -- better internally, and much better in figuring out our offensive scheme; what was innovative and different is now predictable and, therefore, not so difficult to defend.
The truth is that we were never as good as many of us would like to have believed. We played maybe one full, consistent game -- Nebraska -- against a team that is proving to be less powerful than had been thought. That seems to be our way -- big wins that turn out not to be so. In that sense, we've not improved over the last 10 years.
We made the same mistakes in the games we won -- and the games we lost. The magnitude was different, but the mistakes were the same. No improvement.
I tend to view college coaches as teachers. I grade improvement and effort as much as results. If a team does not have enough talent to win, but tries hard and improves, I live with it. This team has a lot of talent. It was there from day one. So, I cannot understand the regression. I also think they are playing hard. So, talent and effort -- check. Teaching? I think that may be the problem.
2. Manfro did not muff the punt -- our special teams muffed. A Cal player pushed one of our own guys into Manfro -- a smart, legal play. Teaching. We should not be susceptible to that.
3. I'm not so concerned about spreading out the ball so long as we are getting plays from the people handling it. One major advantage we should have with our hurry up is the ability to bring in fresh guys to receive the passes.
My problem is that Hundley seems to lock in on the same guys and telegraphs it.If Manfro is in the line up, he looks at Manfro. In the Cal game, we had open receivers who never received a look. That may have been a function of Hundley not having time to run his rotation -- but, that too, becomes predictable. Yes, he is young. And, he was pushed a lot -- but, please, teach him to look elsewhere.
4. I think Hundley is still playing hurt. I do not care what is said, he is slower than he was in the first game. Look at his run on his very first play of his career and look at his runs after he was hurt. He's not running away from anyone, now. At the end of the year we will probably hear that he was at 60 or 70%. This is a very good and tough kid. I admire him.
5. People are complaining that we have not made good half time adjustments in the losses. I don't get it. Why should we give up the first half and then adjust so that we can win in the second? My sense is that if we have to make massive adjustments at half time, we were not properly prepared to start the game -- especially 5 games in. We aren't just getting out coached at halftime, we are getting out coached from the very start. Teams that come prepared don't have to do massive adjustments at half.
6. Go for the damn first downs. When we are inside the 40 with third and short -- we should go for the first down. We should do that even with a kicker of Kai's talent. Not doing it with Ka'imi makes no sense. We have an offense, and running game, that average more than 3 yards a play. I think the odds are better that we make the first down than the field goal. (Unless, perhaps, you figure that at a key juncture in a game -- like going on 4th, we will commit one of our game killing penalties. Hmm, maybe that's why we don't go for it.)
Cut Ka'imi some slack. He's kicking as a freshman. He's been put in that position because Kip Smith flamed out. This should be his year to learn, gain strength and confidence. I think Mora is handling him well.
I just think that if we are really undergoing a "culture change" we have to reexamine the kicking is winning philosophy. There are coaches who play the odds on fourth downs and studies have shown that many of them are right.
7. Players laughing during the rout: There was comment in the thread critical of the players who might have been laughing as things turned to shit at the end of the game. I cannot be critical of them. My sense is that smiling and/or laughter may be defense mechanisms that some of us use to mask tears and pain.
BTW -- this is slightly OT, but we do have a coach who punished laughing during a loss. CBH. I've been following Reeve's case. In an affidavit he filed, recently, he said that the final straw that got him thrown off the team was when he missed a defensive assignment, got heckled by Texas fans, and joked with them. Howland dismissed him the next day and expressly told him that joking around was the reason.
I would not punish our players for smiles or laughs UNLESS I knew them well enough to know that they were not covering deep pain.
8. Jim Mora is going to be our coach for the next 3 years. Get used to it. We are not going to fire him and buy out the entire staff. I'm hoping that starting Saturday he turns this all around and that by the end of the season there is no doubt that he belongs here.
But, there is no need to wait on deciding on the AD. There is no doubt that he does not belong here. He has to be fired before he makes another major hire. I wish CBH the very best. I am still a fan. But, his seat is hot and will likely stay hot. I do not want the current AD to make another hire that will tie up the future of any of our programs for years. We are at a tipping point in both major revenue sports. Another bad hire and I'm not sure we will be able to climb out of the hole. Hope for the best and plan for the worst. That's a concept that our AD can't grasp. I'm sure that if the Bball program flames out he'll chase after a big name coach with whom we have no chance and then, after being humiliated several times, hire someone who shows up at his door. That's not acceptable.