There is no time to waste. The team has 13 days off (a short week by BTN announcer standards, but a long period of time by the rest of the football world). No need to go listen to the post-game interviews about how HCDM needs to re-evaluate what he is doing... blah blah... blah.
#1. The coaching staff is thinking too much.
When you don't have talent, it takes creative schemes to win. This team now has talent. We don't need to use creative schemes to win. We don't need the diamond formation. We didn't need it to score the first three weeks. What we DO need is a huge dose of common sense.
Our opponent has 3rd and 1 at the 1. They give the ball to their 5'5, 220 lb bowling ball and he runs forward and picks up 2 yards. Success. They don't have him run a sweep. They have him run straight up the middle.. or at least start him in that direction.
Boring? Yes. Effective? Yes.
What do we do on 2nd and 1? We line up in the shotgun. This means that the RB gets the ball BEFORE he starts moving with any momentum. He also gets the ball 3 yards farther from the end zone than where we snapped the ball. We also have our burly RB try to outrun people to the corner. Mistake.
If this was an isolated incident, it would be an anomaly. But this is happening again and again. We have blown 3 straight "____ and goal from the 1 situations." 60 years ago, a coach might have called a QB sneak. 7 years ago we lost because we did not call a QB sneak against Iowa. It's a boring play, but it works.
Sure, the other team might be expecting it. But make them have to honor the QB sneak. Then it is 11 on 11. That makes it more likely for success. No shotgun on __ and 1. So easy. Easy works sometimes though. Don't fight it.
These next two weeks can be about getting smarter by being dumber. Stop overthinking.
#2 Nassib's strengths and weaknesses
He comes out every game with too much juice on his passes. If you have a dog with too much energy... do you try to make it sit down and be still? NO. You take it outside and play with it to tire it out.
Why do we have Nassib start the game with touch passes? Open the game out with a 45-yard incompletion. It's better than a 2 yard screen pass. 2 yards and a cloud of dust means punt. Our WRs may be able to shed the tackles of OUR db's in practice, but they are not going to shed most D-1 dbs. It's not just a worthy play to RELY on. Fine for every now and then.
The short passes are also awful for early in the game when Nassib is throwing the hardest. It is not a surprise that a hard thrown ball will pop UP in the air when it is deflected by receivers. That's just physics. 50% of our games have had interceptions of that ilk. Another few bad bounces. It's not a fluke anymore.
Have Nassib look downfield. Have Sales run routes on Nassib's right side--Nassib sees that side better. But by all means... if you want to avoid a slow start, use Nassib's adrenaline positively. Do not try to force him to fight it.
Maybe I am wrong. But 4 weeks in, whatever is being tried is also wrong.
#3 RBs are dancing.
PTG was doing fine the first three weeks. Tonight, he was a dancer. Too many missed opportunities for yards. Even though he is going wide, he needs to go forward--not side-to-side. And we never, ever want Smith heading for the edge. That makes him a dancer too--but because he cannot beat the D to the sideline.
#4 Look at your surroundings.
It is college football. Take all the pro tendencies and throw them out the window. In the NFL, you punt on 4th and 2. In college football, you might not.
Nothing shows you believe in your team more than going for it on 4th down. After all, it shows your trust your offense to pick up the first down AND you trust your defense to make the stop if the offense fails.
At least think about it. Nothing scares me more than when the opponent goes for it on 4th down. We didn't get many opportunities tonight to try a makeable 4th down, but we passed up two against USC. Even failing to convert a 4th down can fire up a team. And fire = emotion. And football is an emotional sport.
Against USC we were running effecively with Smith up the gut... why not a flea flicker? There is one goal when you step on the field--to win. Whether it is by trick plays or otherwise, the goal is to win. And having fun is not the end of the world either. Trick plays are not evil. They are part of the game too.
#5 Fundamentals & Intelligence
I've heard a lot about the quality of our recruits. Let's see them devote themselves to fundamentals. Catching, blocking, tackling, etc. Our Seniors are making mistakes too... mental and otherwise. Just not acceptable. Penalties. Poor special teams decisions. Routes that are too short for the 1st down. Poor ball security. Nassib taking a sack with time an issue. And so on. Our lack of intelligence is not an anomaly. We are what we are... and we are not a smart team. The coaches need to think less, but the players need to think more... we aren't talented enough to be dumb. That's got to change somehow. Penalties. Not staying in position. Overpursuit on defense. Not taking advantage of potential turnovers. When is the last time our D-Line tipped a pass? Are we coaching that?
That starts at the top. This is the best offense we've had in many years. We need to coach like we recognize that our offense is good. Go for it on 4th down. Eschew the draw on 3rd and long. Give Nassib-Sales a chance.
Summary: tonight's game cost HCDM part of the fan base. But I don't think it cost anybody enough to be permanently off it. But, like in-game adjustments, in-season adjustments are in order. And perhaps philosophical adjustments. I am sure that people will a bunch more suggestions. We may not get paid to do this, but sometimes things are more obvious from the outside.