Fixing Football

There’s been some shakeup in the Football program over the past few days after our humiliating defeat at the hands of a very good Mississippi State squad in the Belk Bowl. Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada was given his walking papers while folks wondered, out loud, why Defensive Coordinator Dave Huxtable wasn’t given the same.

After the great ending of the 2014 football season with a convincing bowl win against Central Florida, the Wolfpack seemed to have momentum going into QB Jacoby Brissett’s final year. That 8-5 season ending mixed with a really soft schedule for 2015 seemed to set the stage for getting the Football program firmly in the right direction.

Then 2015 happened.

Jacoby Brissett was a shell of what he was in 2014.

The soft schedule seemed difficult to manage – even the cupcakes gave us a run for our money

Multiple problems with star running back Shadrach Thorton got him dismissed.

Talented running back Matt Dayes missed half the season with an injury – the harder second half.

We couldn’t get our most talented player Jaylen Samuels enough touches.

Passing plays over the middle of the field were treated like hot lava.

The defense was serviceable at times and a train-wreck during others.

The defensive line couldn’t get pressure on the QB opening up our susceptible secondary to big plays – and a lot of them

And on… and on… and on… So how do we fix them?

I won’t play Monday morning quarterback and tell head coach Dave Doeren what he has to do. He’s more qualified for that job than I will ever be. But I do have one mandate and I think I speak for all of Wolfpack nation.


The Wolfpack has a horrid record against Power 5 opponents in Dave Doeren’s tenure. It seems we beat the teams we’re supposed to and lose to the teams that matter. That’s a change from Wolfpack days of yore where the Wolfpack would always have the Top-25 upset and the baffling WTF loss the following week. As a matter of a fact, SFN tweeted this shortly after our bowl loss.

The strange twist of irony is that had we beat Louisville and Virginia Tech mid-season, we likely would’ve ended up with the same Bowl spot that we got. In an alternate universe, we win those two games and play Mississippi State in the Belk Bowl and either win or at least show up and the situation is quite different.

Dave Doeren is making some much needed moves. Canada being shown the door before Huxtable seems curious, but there’s no denying that Brissett regressed. I would have preferred to see more of Jalan McClendon this year knowing we have to break in a completely fresh quarterback with a much more difficult schedule next year. Given a new offensive scheme, perhaps we can get Jaylen Samuels more looks. A Jalan / Jaylen combo could be fun.

The defense is in need of deep repair. I’m not sure if the carousel is over yet, so we’ll hold tight and see what happens.

But the bottom line is this: I pay my LTRs. I pay my Wolfpack Club dues. I’m growing weary of the same result year after year after year. Wolfpack Nation is great and we deserve to win a few games that matter. And we deserve it soon.

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  • #96058

    There’s been some shakeup in the Football program over the past few days after our humiliating defeat at the hands of a very good Mississippi State sq
    [See the full post at: Fixing Football]


    Good article

    What are the numbers in parenthesis beside the teams in the second SFN tweet?


    ^the season — 2013, 2014, or 2015


    “…Even the cupcakes gave us a run for the money.”

    No…No they didn’t. Not by a long shot.

    Hux woulda been gone last week were it to be, and I don’t see it as a bad thing…necessarily. 2 Tops in a season is slippery. Look for Doeren to take a hands on approach to the D.

    In retrospect, the 2 factors I deem most damaging, and consequential to 2015 was Jacoby’s regression, and the loss of two 1000 yard rushers.

    * There’s a reason Samuels was an All-ACC selection…At TE.


    ^the season — 2013, 2014, or 2015

    I am a moron, thanks

    and that tweet is actually really depressing. Just saw where UNC got a 4 star guy to start ’17 off with and we are in the running for a 2 star guy. Damn that is like the early 90’s now.


    That is bizarre that with those two wins we might have ended up in the same bowl.


    I agree with theCowDog that we made progress against the cupcakes. There were no losses to teams not in a bowl. We made it to 7-5 and made a bowl.

    The problem is that ~ 85 teams make bowls now. Teams with losing records make bowls. A bowl is a fairly low bar.

    We also sit in a division with FSU, Clemson and Louisville. The Coastal just got tougher with the addition of Richt and Mendenhall as coaches. For us to get more wins and move up the pecking order, these are the teams we’re going to have to be able to beat.

    I’d agree with the original premise of this post. I don’t care what changes get made, if we don’t start beating some decent teams, DD’s tenure will be a short one. Feasting on cupcakes and going to toilet bowls isn’t going to cut it given the massive influx of cash into the football program (facilities, salaries and buy outs).


    From a purely performance-bases assessment, you do have to wonder how hux kept his job. Unlike offense, he didn’t lose 2 of his key kogs and unlike the offense, the defense didn’t improve.

    Unfortunately, looking forward to next year, any wins over a a non conference opponent that is decent will be an upset as will any victories over teams not named wake, BC or Syracuse.

    I think it’s “stay together for the kids” until year 5 is over because there’s a high likelihood next year is bad and will bring “the infighting of the wolves.”


    “…Even the cupcakes gave us a run for the money.”

    No…No they didn’t. Not by a long shot.

    I would also challenge the statement that Jacoby was a shell of his 2014 self:

    2015: 237-395; 60%; 6 INTs; 2662 yds; 20 TDs, 205 yds per game; 139-615 yds rushing; 6 TDs
    2014: 221-370; 59%; 5 INTs; 2606 yds; 23 TDs, 201 yds per game; 124-763 yds rushing; 3 TDs

    I think it’s the feeling he was going to be so much better in 2015 that makes it feel like he was worse than 2014. Also impossible to say what his numbers would have been if Bo Hines stayed. That was a big loss in the passing game.


    The bigger issue IMO, what gives with the recruiting? I could withstand a 5-6 win season next year if the prospects for rapid improvement were high. We need a splash hire for football to improve I’m afraid.


    Personally I think the expectation that Brissett would somehow help carry us to a higher level were a little misguided. We finished last season beating cupcakes and a mediocre UNC team and bowl team. We did it by running the football. On offense, Thornton’s loss was the biggest blow.

    Defensively, without looking at the numbers, we may have been better this year. But that’s not saying much. The improvement on both sides of the ball can’t be so incremental that it’s not enough to win games. That reminds me of “day-tight compartments” and “chopping wood.”

    I think philosophy on both sides of the ball is still a problem. What is it? Are we a team that spreads to run? spreads to throw? spreads and wants balance? Balance is overrated. Do what you do well, and keep doing it. Defensive philosophy just doesn’t play well for recruiting. It’s boring. We’re not Alabama. Please show me some creativity and adaptability going forward.


    Good call on Hines. His absence is often forgot about…

    OTOH, our d pretty much had what they were expected to have no?


    We have a defense that is “built” to be paired with an offense that can run the football for 225+ ypg and have TOP numbers around 35:00-40:00 mpg. This could well be why Canada took the fall. The plan was predicated on a certain style of offense.

    I have seen a lot of comments about the lack of throws over the middle. While I did not watch as much Wolfpack football as I have in the past, I saw a boat load of tipped passes when we tried going over the middle. I think that’s why Canada gave up on that.


    I’m not a fan of Canada’s firing. Sure we struggled in a few games, but we also put up 41 on Clemson, 34 on UNC, etc. Despite our nice overall stats (YPG, sacks, etc.), the defense’s tendency to give up explosive plays was our biggest problem and I don’t see yet how we’re solving it. I’m open to be proven wrong (that the defensive personnel need one more year to mature, improve), but I’m not sure we fired the right guy nor that we will be able to attract an OC who will achieve better results than Canada, especially with a new QB. Next year will be a big test for this program.

    On financing the program and facilities it’s fair to expect a better performance than we’ve seen but not necessarily applying that to competing for championships. Tens of millions of dollars have been invested to upgrade our facilities over the past decade plus for sure, but how we compare against ourselves isn’t as important as how we compare with programs we’re competing against. Until recent years we were arguably behind a lot of other schools in facilities and only recently have we been able to say we can compete on a semi-level playing field. I’d be interested to see an analysis comparing various ACC and P5 programs to see where we stand in terms of football revenue, facilities and coaches salaries so we can calibrate our expectations.


    I heard Bill Cowher was sighted in Raleigh!

    (j/k lol i’ma stop now)


    If we don’t throw over the middle, it is the OCs job to fix it. Hey all 5’9″ of RW throws over the middle all the time.

    Canada’s plays and play calling were baffling in critical games. Sideways, forgetting about the middle of the field, forgetting about personnel, predictable down and distance calls. I have never seen anyone run the ball on 2 and long as much as he did. It was like his plan was to get to 3ird and 5. He was no match for any decent team. We got a lot of points in those games after it was well decided. I honestly don’t think we can do worse.

    If DD keeps the DC, then we should go ahead and can him as well. What a totally disorganized and predictable defense. We got behind quickly in most big games. Look for more of the same next year. A year more experience under our players belt will not make a difference with these coaches.

    DY timing for contract extensions in FB and BB was perhaps the worst ever. What was she thinking. Good Riddance if our coaches got picked off, but it wasn’t even close to happening. Did she really think DD’s 0-8 and 3-5 was a big deal and someone was going to steal this star coach. Wow.

    She is far better than Lee, but lacks analytical skills/team to consistently hire great coaches.

    Here’s hoping we have a great QB coming up and a new OC that can light it up.


    ChiefJoJo: I agree and disagree with respect to facilities and spending levels. I agree that we don’t have top flight facilities or spending levels, therefore it is not necessarily fair for fans to expect conference championships. I do think we have mid-tier facilities and spending and should expect mid-tier results (which would clearly be behind FSU and Clemson and likely behind Louisville).

    I’ve argued for years that the level of investment to get us competitive with respect to facilities and budget in football is so large that it’s almost foolish to try to compete at a national level. We’re much closer in basketball and thus that’s where the attention and money should go (to push us over the top). That’s another thread though.

    Having said that, to get the indoor practice facility, fund the extensions/raises and then to fund the buy outs, I’m sure promises were made. With that spending comes raised expectations — fair or unfair. I’ve never seen otherwise in business in any performance oriented organization. If you have done more with less historically, great, but if we give you more money you’d better be able to do even more relative to the spending level. That money cuts both ways.

    Let’s look at it another way. If we were happy with 6-6 or 7-5 and 3-5 to 4-4 in conference, we could have kept TOB, had no indoor practice facility, and spent a lot less money. That wasn’t good enough at the cheaper spending level, so why would it be now after more investment? Yes, I get that others are investing more as well, but I’m just arguing the ROI.

    With that in mind, DD is going to have to start winning 40-50% of the games against the mid-tier teams as well as just not laying eggs against the cupcakes. A special season (for NC State) would be if he paired that with an upset (or two) against the higher programs.


    My thoughts exactly Primewolf!! Ditto on everything you said!!!


    Our defense was not going to be good in year 3 of DD’s reign, so we needed the offense to be good. The 2 games that would have flipped the season were Va Tech and Louisville, and we score 13 in each game. Also, the data for average pts scored has our first 4 cupcake games in it, including the 60+ game vs S Alabama.

    Regarding Cananda’s departure – I understand why it happened. Lots of inconsistencies in the offense, the strategy was crazy. Sometimes it was awesome (highlighted vs UNC in 2014, plus Clemson and FSU games at home) and others it was terrible (miss st, Louisville, Va Tech and various in 2013 and 2014).

    Geez, just thinking of the Miss St game, with a month to prep. First play from scrimmage was a disaster. 2 turnovers early and missing a 4th and 1 without asking to even get a measurement. We learn McIver is a faster Gronk (what?). JaySam gets minimal touches. We never county their defensive rush with short drop backs or going under center w tight per spreads . . . If I was DD I would be going nuts. If u argue the OC data my argument is that it could have even been better.


    Canada lands OC job at Pitt. That didn’t take long. Some interesting comments in the announcement.


    Canada joins Pitt after being fired by North Carolina State last week to end a three-year stint with the Wolfpack. Over that span, his offense averaged 28.9 points per game and improved every season. This year, the Wolfpack scored 33.2 points per game, third best in the ACC.

    Canada admitted that he was “surprised” by his dismissal from the Wolfpack’s staff, but declined to elaborate.

    Terms of Canada’s contract were not disclosed, but he was earning a base salary of $560,000 at North Carolina State on a contract that had two years left. By terms of that contract, if he makes less than that at Pitt, the Wolfpack will have to make up the difference for those two years.

    Canada didn’t mince words about what made this job appealing to him, either. He talked about Pitt’s football tradition and the players the Panthers have returning next year, but the deciding factor was the head coach.

    “The main attraction for me is Pat Narduzzi, period,” Canada said. “That is the attraction.”

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