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Chicken Littles


People just need to calm down.

UNC goes 5-1 through six games with the only loss coming against Virginia Tech after TJ Yates got knocked out of the game.  Everything appears to be fine in Tar Heel Nation.  Then the Heels go to UVa and lose in OT after leading 10-3 with two minutes left in regulation.  Like clockwork we get people running around like Chicken Little proclaiming the sky is falling.  Suddenly the coaches are some of the most inept in college football and in perfect hyperbolic form for the message boards someone proclaims the staff is "not very good."

*begin rant*

Well let's fire them all then!  Get it over with.  Why waste six years like we did with the last guy?  Let's just fire them now since it obvious after one loss at Charlottesville and the fact the defense was not stellar in the final possessions against Miami and Notre Dame that the blood should be flowing freely down Highway 54. Screw the fact that things are one hundred times better that they were two years ago and miles ahead in progress since last season.  Screw all of that and let's go get someone who will make all the right calls on offense and defense while never losing a game.  So call Chuck Neinas up right now and ask him if his vast contact list included coaches who live in Fantasy Land.

*end rant*

Here is the deal.  I know the coaches did a fairly crappy job on Saturday.  Guess what?  They are aware of it too:

“I think honesty with the players is the best thing. We never sugarcoat things, and we tell them when we make mistakes, because we’ve made mistakes. We do every single week. Coaches – we’re not immune to doing anything wrong. When we accept ownership for the things that we didn’t practice enough of the right things to get them prepared right, we tell them. And they’ve got to take the ownership themselves when they didn’t execute or perform something right. We’re all in this thing together.”

“That was one of the real regrettable things in that ball game, having to burn some timeouts. Just because we could see and anticipate right prior to the snap… We gave them up to 3-4-5-6 seconds before the snap to see if they could fix it themselves, and you’re screaming on the sidelines, ‘Get on the line! Get off the line! Do this, that and the other.’ And if they can’t fix it, then you can’t run a play and take the 5-yard loss. So we burned some timeouts that we certainly would have liked to have had. It was not very good clock management on my part.”

I also know that criticism of the coaches is okay.  I spent a good portion of a previous post pointing out that coaches needed to improve the defense against the two minute drill and the offense needs to be tweaked.  The further I get from the UVa loss the more I am inclined to think losing Brandon Tate and Shaun Draughn running for 138 yards had a lot to do with how the offense functioned.  The dynamics of the offense are completely different than they were last week or 2-3 weeks back.  Cam Sexton has been good but I still think TJ Yates is more effective.  If you take Tate out of the offense suddenly the passing game is a lot less dangerous than it once was and UVA, to their credit, made the adjustment.  The offense looked like a unit going through a transition and attempting to find it's identity again.  Yes, it falls on the coaches to work this out in practice but it is not like there was a lot of time to do that.  If UNC could have won this game it would have been a flat out steal considering the offense is in flux.  As for the defense, the coaches bear most of the burden of blame.  Yes, the players did not execute it well and were a little soft in terms of the coverage but it is not like there have not been two games already where that has happened.  You give any QB plenty of time he will find someone open, it is too difficult to cover everyone for longer than about four seconds.

My point is there are many facets to building a program.  In terms of recruiting, the general direction of the program, the vision Butch Davis has put forward, the attitude/work ethic of the players and the general way those players go about their business on the field I have zero issues.  And generally speaking I do not think the on-the-field coaching has been horrible either.  The truth is winning cures a variety of ills but losses bring out the worst in the fan base.  Had UNC won on Saturday by getting one of those timely INTs from Trimane Goddard on the five yard line, no one would be talking about the defense and the offense would be viewed as struggling to adapt to the Tate.  Since UNC lost the worst possible criticisms are bantered around.  Such is the nature of the fickled fan.  Much the same fan who rips Roy Williams despite a mountain evidence he knows what he is doing.

These guys are not perfect and even if they were the players are not perfect.  Here in the 2nd year of Butch Davis the program is heading in the right direction but the margin of error is still pretty thin.  As the recruiting gets better and the personnel matures, that margin of error will get more comfortable and UNC will reach a point where it can survive games like this one despite the loss of key personnel or mistakes by coaches and players alike.  Screaming that the coaches are no good and complaining about how bad the playcalling was accomplishes nothing, especially when you are dealing with a very limited body of evidence.  Fan, in general, have a really difficult time of seeing past the most recent loss.  Every bad play becomes prosecution exhibit A through Z that the coaches suck without regarding mitigating circumstances and the players failure to execute.  For myself, I will err on the side of patience because that seems to the reasonable course of action and also because you cannot change coaches every time the loses a game.

Aside from that, the mark of a good coach is what happens during the game after a tough loss.  Do they make adjustments? Does the team bounce back?  It worked against Miami, let's see if it will work against Boston College.