Hire Muschamp (and I don't think his potential impact on recruiting can be downplayed — it would be big) or someone else. At this point I don't care. And let's put aside the Kelly-sucks-at-game-prep debate for a while and look solely at the play of the back end of the defense.
We're now past game 10 of this season and we continue to have massive breakdowns in the defensive backfield. Why is this still happening? Possible reasons:
1) Personnel. Well....Darby, Williams (who were both first year starters at CB last year), Ramsey and Andrews are all back. We lost Joyner and Brooks but gained Hunter(a multi-year starter before his injury). A net loss? Certainly Hunter<Joyner/Brooks but it should be a realistic expectation that the other four, consisting of two juniors and two sophomores(two sophs and two frosh last year), would improve enough to at least make up for most of that difference. Sorry, our struggles are not personnel-related.
2) Injuries. Darby and PJ have been banged up this year. They've also had to play more snaps due to virtually every game being close. They have been rested more in practice though, so there's one mitigating factor helping them. One would realistically expect the duo to surrender more big plays this year, and they have. But there's a difference, and a huge one, with getting beat — which all CBs do — and with just not being where you're supposed to be. More to come on that.
3) Front seven. A lot less pressure has been put on opposing QBs this year, I agree. Flashes from MEJ, Featherston and Pugh aside, there hasn't been that consistentpush that we saw last season. I would counter though that we done a lot better at containing QBs this year. Brissett, Goldson, etc have managed to keep plays alive but generally don't have a lot of rushing yards. A defensive backfield can be forgiven for not being able to cover past the four or five second mark but again, we haven't seen a lot of that happen. Which leads me to...
4) Scheme and coaching. The problem I see with the DBs is a glaring lack of communication and missed assignments. I don't think FSU has seen, at least since before Mickey Andrews arrived, as many receivers running completely free as we have this season. Consistently, and I mean every game, opposing WRs, TEs and RBs are all alone...and you can't blame that on lack of pressure, injured players or the players themselves. At least not every time.
It is the coaches' responsibility to have the guys where they're supposed to be, and to know where their teammates are supposed to be. The CBs are clearly not on the same page as the Safeties. For example, there was a play in the Miami game where Darby just let his man go, obviously expecting deep help, while Hunter was playing middle deep zone. Tyler got over in time to save the TD but it was a big gain for the Canes. This is a common occurrence. They can't be perfect every play, every game, but we see this far too often.
I'll plant my flag in the ground right now. If we don't relieve Kelly of his DC duties, at least find someone competent to coach the defensive backs. This is his first full season as a DC at this level, maybe he has too much on his plate. Get him some help, at least.