I say reasonable, because I don't see Embree getting fired and CU throwing $10,000,000 at Nick Saban. So here are some changes that I deem reasonable to hope for and expect going forward:
Change quarterbacks: This one seems likely to happen based on comments from Embree. Jordan Webb is not any sort of answer. He has several good QB skills- relatively accurate, tough as nails, decently mobile, probably a nice guy. But he has zero pocket presence, no sense of the pass rush and refuses to just throw the goddamn ball. His sacks are certainly not all his fault- poor protection, poor play design, and poor ability of receivers to get open all play a part to be sure, but at the end of the day, when you hold the ball for 6 seconds, when you miss the snap- that's on you if you get your ass clobbered. I don't know if Nick Hirschman, John Schrock, Connor Wood, Stevie Jo Detmer Relative, hell- Josh Moten is the answer, but someone deserves a chance. A full chance, not just to play in the game, but a full complement of practice reps in the week preceding the game, knowing that he's the starter on Saturday.
Running back rotation: My biggest disappointment from Bieniemy moving to the sidelines is that we still lack a coherent running back rotation. Especially when we abandon the run so quickly, it makes no sense to play 5 or 6 backs. In my view, Christian Powell, Josh Ford, and Tony Jones are our best running back options. Our carry distribution should be something like 25, 10, 8 instead of 22, 5, 4, 1, 1, 2. Donta Abron's redshirt was wasted, just like Malcolm Creer's last year. What is the justification for playing so many running backs when guys ahead of that 5th back has only received a couple of carries? There isn't one.
Coaches: There has to be some change. Let's examine that.
Jon Embree: Safe (contract)
Eric Bieniemy: Safe (contract), but needs to adapt. Our most effective game plan was against Washington State (surprise! We won!). We had running backs motioning in and out of the backfield, either flanked out wide, or motioning out wide. We won the game, and then that all stopped. What the hell? And we still need to get more creative, something that happened against USC and then stopped against Oregon. Throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. We obviously aren't maintaining dignity by being conservative. Also see above re: running back rotation
Steve Marshall: Who knows. The offensive line is certainly improving, but improving from god awful to OK is hardly an endorsement.
Bobby Kennedy: Retain. He's secured a number of recruits, and the problems with the receivers seems to point to more the receivers limitations and play design than coaching.
JD Brookhart: fired. The tight ends have been decent, but the special teams have been awful, and he's also the passing game coordinator. It's questionable how much influence he has over special teams (Embree is in charge of a couple units, Tuiasosopo is in charge of the field goal defense). Ultimately, Brookhart is in a weird place, which will come up later.
Greg Brown: Fired. This one should speak for itself. Nothing creative, the players aren't put in position to succeed, and the defense is just plain dogshit. He's also the DB coach, and every single player at the back end has underperformed save for Greg Henderson and Parker Orms.
Brian Cabral: Uncertain. He's an outstanding linebackers coach, and has been a loyal Buffalo for years and years, but the position he coaches has evolved a lot, and our linebackers are increasingly irrelevant in today's college football landscape. I love Brady Daigh, but a downhill thumper won't make much of a difference against teams that spread you out and get their playmakers out in space. That's why Vigo and Washington- DBs by trade- are increasingly getting time at LB. And Rippy and Major seem to be regressing (which is also a problem of scheme).
Mike Tuiasosopo: Fired. This is a prediction more than an expectation, but if Brown gets axed, then we'll need a DB coach as well as a defensive coordinator. Looking at the numbers, something has to give and Tui isn't "family." I don't think the defensive line has underperformed relative to expectations. It's just a numbers game.
Kanavis McGhee: Retained. He's secured a number of Houston recruits, and he's part of the family that was so highly touted upon Embree's hire. That's really the only justification I can see for his retention. I didn't like the hire but I think he sticks as the new DL coach.
Offense: Some of this has been discussed above, but we need more creativity- period. More motion, more QB draws, more CREATIVITY. I don't care who is brought in or retained- someone needs to find a way to utilize more misdirection with skill position players who are not particularly imposing from a physical standpoint. Simple WR screens don't work if the DBs aren't worried about being beaten deep. Fly sweeps too- the DBs are all sitting at the line of scrimmage daring you to beat them deep. Paul Richardson's return will help a lot, but we need to be aggressive, because we cannot succeed trying to run a straight ahead pro style offense.
Defense: Stop with the Oklahoma drill. If you don't know, Embree came in touting the Oklahoma drill as a way to increase toughness. It's a 9 on 7 drill that basically means, "we're going to run the ball up the middle and you have to stop us." It makes sense in theory, but not in practice. In theory, you're a linebacker forced to look a running back in the eye, wrap up, and tackle. In practice, these types of plays never come up any more. We don't need linebackers who can tackle straight up. We need guys who can tackle from a 3/4 angle, from a 1/2 angle. In short- we need guys who can tackle in space, not in the box. No one plays in the box, and our defense has proven that by playing in the box while opposing skill players run wild outside the hashes. Against USC, players were quick to tout that we finally got to play our base defense (which was inaccurate, but still). If you're playing a spread offense 90% of the time, then your base defense should be something that can defend a spread offense. That hasn't been the case. And that's the fault of the coaches.
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