Wonder no more. He will be back, Al Golden said Monday.
"My decision is that starting over isn't the answer," Golden said. "I made that decision after careful consideration."
He then talked about some of the issues on that side of the football.
"Understand number one that I'm responsible for everything in this program, including the defense and the personnel," Golden said. "We're not where we want to be. We had a chance to win 10 games. Look at the progress we made, whether it's sacks or turnovers, we made explosive plays."
Golden points out to some of the improvements the Canes made on defense as reasons to be excited moving forward.
"We scored five touchdowns on defense, blocked four kicks for the first time. We went from 31 penalties on defense one year ago to 10. We're not where we want to be. There are so many things I look at, the answer is not to change. The answer is continue the development."
Golden believes the talent of the players coming back, and the recruits coming in, is a reason to be excited.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about the talent we have coming back. We will be adding 13 or 14 recruits to that."
Golden said the decision to maintain D'Onofrio was made after careful evaluation.
"I evaluated all that last week. We had three position changes on offense last year. I'm happy with all those guys. We made a lot of progress in a lot of areas but we have a long way to go. I understand that. We will keep working. That doesn't mean we won't tweak our personnel or how we devise things. What was good for this past team might not be what's best for this team coming up. With kids coming in, we may have more defensive backs and be able to play more nickel for example."
So what about the late season collapse?
"The reality is that we weren't getting it done. That's my responsibility. We have to continue to build our depth. That will be critical. Everyone goes through injuries. Look at guys we lost. It was difficult but it's no excuse. We have to coach better, play better."
The Hurricanes will return eight starters on defense in 2014.