« Courtside blog: UM 80, San Diego 45 (F) | Main | Gameday blog: N.C. State 38, UM 28 (F) »

What's so bad about 7-5?

It's pretty amazing how quickly the mood of an entire fan's nation can change in a matter of one week. Last week at this time, U were probably thinking...

> The Canes are going to win the ACC title and we're going to be in the Orange Bowl. Sweet!
> Randy Shannon probably deserves some Coach of the Year consideration.
> Bill Young has done a great job straightening out that defense. That FSU game was just a bad game.
> This whole Robert Marve-Jacory Harris quarterback sharing thing -- I can live with it this year as long as we keep winning.
> This team has really impressed me. They're doing great much better than I thought they would.

Not so much anymore. In a few hours, it's going to be a week since the Georgia Tech debacle, since all of those good feelings and positive opinions on this Canes season vanished with three hours of misery in Atlanta. But as you sit down to your turkey dinner tonight ask yourself this -- should U really be that disappointed? What were your realistic expectations for this team before Jacory Harris made you feel giddy with that comeback at Duke and Virginia and the defense and Marcus Robinson thrilled you against Virginia Tech? How happy would U have been if someone told you this team would likely finish 7-5 after starting 2-3?

Here's the reality: U probably aren't happy anymore with 7-4. And, things are probably going to get even uglier if that record slips to 7-5 with a loss at N.C. State on Saturday. But should U really be that upset? I think U should be thankful for this... this football team is better than it was last season; it's only going to get better with time; and Notre Dame is worse.

> Unfortunately, due to my flight delay in St. Thomas, I never got in on time to catch the end of practice Tuesday. But I did make it out on Wednesday to shoot a new video with Mollie Rose and gather some post-practice talk about the Wolfpack, who obviously have momentum (a three-game winning streak) and a bowl-berth to play for. So, what was the mood of the team? "We just want to get a win," linebacker Glenn Cook said. "This win will help us get into a better bowl. We don't get into redemption. We didn't do what we had to do to put us in a good position. So, this is what we've got to play for now."

Honestly, I'd say Cook and his teammates sounded a lot more disappointed they no longer have the ACC title to play for than thrilled about playing the Wolfpack. Not a good sign heading into Saturday.

> Randy Shannon has decided to make a few changes to the starting lineup on defense, benching veterans Bruce Johnson and Chavez Grant at cornerback for sophomore DeMarcus Van Dyke and freshman Brandon Harris. While I understand Johnson and Grant haven't done anything to warrant staying in the starting rotation, I'm taking it as a sign Shannon has decided with two games left to move forward at least at cornerback, throwing two guys into the fire even if they get burned.

Demarcus_van_dykeVan Dyke, who started eight games last season, said Wednesday he'd only been playing about 10 snaps a game in certain situations. Harris, who has struggled this season, hasn't started since the Duke game. Harris said he believes coaches made the change because "I think its just giving us a feel to see how we can do starting off. They really want us to see us make some plays on the ball and tackle guys and get them on the ground. I think we play faster when you know what an offense is doing before you lineup. I think early in the season we were just trying to play off athletic ability."

Both Harris and Van Dyke said they've spent a lot of time in the film room, learning how to play in Young's zone-based coverage defense. Van Dyke said adjusting from man to zone is what caused him to struggle this season. "I think this right here is my stepping stone for next year," Van Dyke said. "I really want to get back to doing what I was supposed to do."

> Shannon said linebacker Romeo Davis has been replaced by junior Daryl Sharpton at the starting strongside linebacker spot.

> There are a few reports out two seniors could be seeking another year of eligibility after this season -- safeties Randy Phillips and Anthony Reddick. I'm of the opinion at least it's time to go in the direction of youth. Show me some Vaughn Telemaque.