Year 4 of the Doug Marrone Era will be the most critical yet. Whether you're one of the loonies ready to can him or one of the true believers willing to give HCDM as much rope as he needs, the question on all of our minds is...what is he going to do to move past last year's collapse?
excuse pointed this out already but it bears repeating. Unlike a predecessor or two, Marrone is going to admit what went wrong and then fix it.
Dave Rahme sat down with The Big Bologna to talk about how he's feeling going into Year 4 and what he's going to do after Syracuse's 5-7 finish on the heels of a 5-2 start in 2011.
"This was a critical year because my goal was to get us over the top," he said. "We had ourselves in position and we weren’t able to finish. That’s why I’m so critical of myself, because it’s my job to make sure we can do it. And we had a chance, and we didn’t."
"It starts with me," he said. "Where can I do a better job, because it starts at the top."
One thing that has been a big question for a lot of Orange fans, including myself, is why Marrone insists on not hiring a special teams coach. Last year it was a coach-by-committee and this year he'll be overseeing it himself. Considering special teams play was a big downside to last season, don't we need someone dedicated strictly to that? Marrone sees it differently, he sees it as a chance to get to know every player on the team and see them through:
"It gives me a great ability to coach every single player on this team," Marrone said. "It will put me in the relationship where they know exactly what I expect from them from a coaching standpoint. I can also celebrate the successes with them and also push them through the adversity or coach them through whatever we’re not doing well."
Last year, the Syracuse offense would often sputter under the weight of its playbook while often times relying too much on a handful of plays. Marrone wants to pare down the playbook but also open things up with more running from the QB spot, something that killed the Orange on the other side.
"That is where a lot of the big plays are coming from," he said. "You have to defend the quarterback runs as well as the quarterback passing. That’s something I think we want to do, is get our quarterback more involved in our running game, because now you can create more misdirection, you can create more gap assignment on the defense, and now you can also handle the rush a little better."
On defense, Marrone wants to make the team more exciting and less predictable. That's why he's brought in two new coaches with more experience than their predecessors.
"We have to change some things up a little but more so people can’t predict what they’re going to be able to get us in coverage-wise," he said. We have to do things to keep them guessing."