So my cable went out midway through the first quarter yesterday and I haven't had it or internet since. I think sandman227's comments in the open thread are pretty much what I would have said here if I had been able to yesterday after the game, so I'm going to repost them out here on the front page.
For the entire year, various fans and pundits have chanted the word "play-calling" like a mantra whenever the offense is discussed. Folks, I hate to break it to ya, but that is a GROSS over-simplification of everything that's wrong with this offense. For all we know, Shula/Rader might be outstanding at calling games: but because we can't execute assignments more than 30% of the time, we can't tell. So, let's talk preperation.....
We have NO right tackle. At all. Period. I agree with the other posters who generally shy away from critisizing the kids (an amatuer athlete gets cut a lot more slack than a professional, in my book), but we are awful at that position. From my vantage point in the stands, I was mortified that the ends were essentially coming through untouched...again: hard to determine if a play-call was a poor choice or not if the quarterback is running for his life .5 seconds after getting the snap. I honestly think that McClain should've been inserted at RT for passing downs: he could have at least matched up quickness and size wise. With the exception of the Cotton Bowl, the O-line hasn't looked good in a long, long time. Connelly has to go, and the offensive coaching staff should be ashamed of themselves for not fixing this problem in-game.
I think everyone has been pleasantly surprised with the job JPW has done this year. However, the last few games have been poor due to his lack of confidence in the blocking. He's obviously rushing his throws, throwing off his back foot, and having to look at the tidal wave of defenders bearing down on him obviously causes his to not see open recievers (example: instead of having time to look at the entire field yesterday, he only had time to look at the right side...thus the number of passes he threw to the right). Again, coaching would suggest a few more max-protect schemes rather than releasing the backs, and/or screens and slants to slow down the rush (slants can be fun...see the Florida game of '05)
Guys, I don't know what's wrong with KD any more than you do. For whatever reason, he doesn't seem to have the ability to make that "first guy" miss this year. I've been critical earlier this year about his inability to run "downhill" instead of jukeing in the backfield, but a good back has to make at least one guy miss. Johns would certainly seem to be more of an answer than what we have right now.
So, here's the real question I've asked myself: should Shula be given one more year? I'm honestly leaning against it, but I can't (and no-one should, frankly) give a definitive answer until the season's over. He still has a chance to save himself, but the odds of it happening shrank drastically yesterday.
Conventional wisdom last week said that he could lose out his last 3 games and still be safe for next year. I would have agreed with that if, say, the score of this game had been 41-37 and the defense had been the reason for the loss: but with no touchdowns against MSU and an evident lack of cohesion on offense, I'm not so sure.
Look, I've maintained for years that the major cause of our program's downfall hasn't been the NCAA sanctions: it's been the constant coaching turnover that's led to our lack of stability. For that reason, I dearly want the Shula experiment to work out...not out of any personal loyalty to him but rather for the sake of not having to go on a coaching search AGAIN, losing recruits because of said coaching change AGAIN, and having rebuilding years because of the first two reasons AGAIN.
However, if it's still this dismal in the last two (possibly three) games, then I think it's time to say goodbye. If nothing else, we can thank him for being a good steward of the program and making it a much more attractive job than it was when he interviewed for it.
Let me just add this: I think Shula needs to stay for one more season. We essentially hired an intern to be a CEO, and we all knew there was going to be a learning curve for a guy who had never coached in college before and had never had any head coaching experience during his career in the pros. Part of being a head coach is knowing who you need on your staff to be successful and that seems to be the biggest stumbling block so far for Shula. He was right in keeping Kines, but his loyatly to the offensive staff is going to get him fired and cause Bama to be the butt of many a joke for another season. With the talent we have on the field, we shouldn't be struggling like we are, but with the staff on the sidelines it's no wonder why. I think we match up talent wise with anyone in the conference, but until we hire someone that knows how to utilize that talent it isn't doing us any good. I think Shula deserves one more season so long as he's willing to clean house and put together a staff that knows how to coach and prepare the players for game day and is willing to adapt their game plan to what's happening on the field. But if he's unwilling to make the changes necessary on the staff, then I really feel like he needs to be shown the door and someone else needs to be brought in that can do the job.