A take on CM and getting over the hump

I’ve had this thought for a while but haven’t quite been able to articulate it nor had the supportive evidence until now. Much more fun trying to explain success than mediocrity!

CM is a solid coach… when he has the talent advantage. He had the best players at lower division powerhouse Grand Valley. He was accustomed to having better players than most opposition as a coordinator at ND. Sure, this can be said about any coach, but I believe the phenomenon is more dramatic with CM.

Why have we been a consistently above average MAC team in recent years but completely unable to compete out of conference against bigger/stronger/faster teams while other less talented MAC teams look better and occasionally pull off an upset? In terms of Xs and Os, CM doesn’t make wholesale philosophy/gameplan adjustments week to week. We’ve all seen it and wished for more unique looks, trickeration, and risk taking, particularly offensively but also on the other side of the ball (i.e. blitz!). This stick-to-your-guns, vanilla approach explains our OOC frustrations but also our MAC consistency, where most conference games prior to this year were single-digit, nail biting affairs. Beyond tactics, CM also has a habit of poor mouthing, as I call it - “OSU draft picks at recess, harping on budget compared to P5 programs, asking UC to pay us after we won…” Players pick up on this stuff, if not the precise words, the sentiment. When we’ve had bad or mediocre teams, this woe-is-me attitude was detrimental. Nobody needed reminding that we weren’t very good or that we were going into a game with a disadvantage. On the other hand, once you get over that hump talent wise and are better than the teams you’re playing, grounding the players and putting a chip on their shoulders is probably helpful.

So let’s review this year. Still get trounced and show zero signs of life or flair at the U with a major talent disadvantage. Great win on the road at UC, though maybe not as dramatic of an upset on paper as we thought when it happened. And now we’re comfortably controlling games and handily beating inferior conference opponents.

Like him or not, CM hasn’t changed. But now we have the players. How much better are we this year? I don’t know, at least a little. But that edge, however large or small, makes a world of difference with CM’s coaching and leadership style.


These next two games will be very instructive in further breaking down your points. Personally, I think Toledo will be the second best team we will face in the regular season, behind only the Hurricanes. As I posted earlier, they have only allowed 2 sacks in 7 games. Just as one stat. It should be an interesting game, and one hopefully Miami finds a way to win.


Of course it is debatable what this did for Fresno…CLICK HERE.

Nevertheless, I think most would like more Pat Hill that what we have right now

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It might be explainable by something as simple as our strength of OOC schedule. This season UC weakened significantly and we had a lousy UMass opponent, if UC was strong like the Fickell years and UMass was another buy game then we probably lose both (and are sitting at a decent but unspectacular 4-3 now).

That’s not to shortchange any CM/staff improvements made over time because bringing in transfer portal talent and game planning better (specifically against UC) are great developments, but schedule is a big factor.


I do think the OOC schedule has a lot to do with it. If you watched CM’s presser last week (I think), he went on one of his rants about this. His point was that, when you aren’t playing two or three money games, the players are far more mentally and physically better off. This year we only played one money game and our other road game before UC was UMass. Instead of rolling into Clifton licking our wounds from getting pounded on by multiple P5 teams, we had some momentum and confidence. Then you beat a UC team and that carries over into MAC play as well.

Obviously money games are always going to be part of our scheduling, but I do hope DS sees the difference it can make when you don’t have to play two or three of them.

I only looked at this because it had the word “hump” in the headline. Now I feel letdown.

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Agreed that the schedule this year has worked in our favor. My bigger picture point is that we’ve gone from almost every win being a close game to having some breathing room and looking/feeling in control against UMass and our 3 MAC wins.

Won’t be in the next two seasons. Three P5 games in both years. But if we’ve really turned the corner talent wise we stand a better chance of coming out of OOC at 2-2.

To humor Yellow, I will say there are multiple humps.

As a program that strives to be near the top of the G5, one hump would be competing with average P5 teams OOC, which I don’t think CM is capable of doing consistently based on the reasons in my initial post. The hump I think he can (and maybe has) overcome is converting the majority of our MAC games from tossups to cruises. Obviously we are not in for a cruise with UT and OU coming up, so to Blues’ point, I think how we perform these next 2 weeks will answer different questions.


What you’re basically talking about is a dry hump so to speak. And no one enjoys that.

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Agreed. I am anxious though thinking about life after Gabbert graduates.

Starting 2025/26 with three P5 games isn’t ideal, but it’s not like we’re playing OSU and Georgia. Northwestern (road)/UC (home) next season will be vulnerable before Notre Dame (road). The following season Wisconsin (road)/UC (road)/Mizzou (home) will be hard but less difficult than the recent Kent State death marches.


One thing to add to this is how healthy we’ve been able to stay up to this point. Usually, we’ve had multiple key guys miss multiple games or already be out for the season, usually in positions where we aren’t very deep. Other than Coldiron, have we lost anyone for the year? Gage missed a few games, but the other receivers stepped up. Maybe this goes back to the schedule as well. We weren’t as physically beaten up entering MAC play, giving us a chance. So not only have we stayed healthy, everyone’s been able to play, further building consistency.