Syracuse is not at the Big East spring meetings, but I did have a chance to catch up with coach Doug Marrone at the ACC meetings on Amelia Island. One quick note before I get to the Q&A. I asked Marrone for an injury update, and he said he would provide one as fall practice gets closer. So still no answers on when many of his key players will be back. Stay tuned.
We have heard a lot this spring about Ashton Broyld. Describe what makes him so special.
Doug Marrone: He’s an outstanding athlete. In my time there, I haven’t had many players who have possessed that type of talent level. From that standpoint he’s going through his first spring. So we are looking to find ways to get him involved because he’s someone that can make plays and has that ability. We have to do a very good job of finding ways of making sure how we insert him into our offense moving forward. But it’s a good problem, not a bad problem.
He was listed as a running back on the depth chart. Will he stay there or be used in a variety of ways like receiver and quarterback?
DM: We’re open to all those plans, so again a lot of it is based on the type of productivity we can get from him in what areas or what positions or where it may be on the offense and how we progress him and how much he can or cannot handle. It’s a matter of what the other people are able to do at the positions around him to put him where it’s best needed for us to score more points.
One of the problems that has plagued you guys has been inconsistency on offense. How will you be better this season?
DM: We changed a lot of things offensively in what we’re doing and the reason why we’ve done that is to be able to create that type of consistency. When you look at it, we did a very good job in just one area of third down; we led the Big East in third-down conversions. Well why was that successful? Those are the questions we asked ourselves, and then trying to take that philosophy and putting it into what we do offensively to have that type of consistency. We’ve gone forward in looking to make some changes, to become a better football team and that’s what we did this spring.
What was the biggest thing you learned about the way last season went?
DM: I think obviously we’re all disappointed, being in a good position, at 5-2 and not being able to turn that around and creating more wins always leaves a bad taste not only for coaches and fans and administrators but players and everyone involved in the program. For us, it was to go ahead, create a level of expectations for us so we can remain and do a better job during the year. A lot about character is how you respond to that. We have to do a better job, starting with me. Responding to that adversity and being able to move forward.
Ryan Nassib took some steps forward last year. What does he need to do to become an elite quarterback?
DM: I just think we need him to do what we plan on him doing. We don’t need him to go the extra mile and push so hard on himself. He’s a very competitive person. We have to make sure we have the right people in place around him for us to be successful. You look at all the offenses, whether it’s the NFL or college football. There are other people around making plays. For us to succeed offensively, we have to make more plays. We’ve generated more yardage but not at a rate we would probably like to but we haven’t generated more yards per play and that’s what’s keeping us back. We’re hoping with some of the changes we’ve made that we’re able to open it up and do some things where we have from a percentage standpoint the ability to make bigger plays per play. We have to make more plays, whether that’s at the quarterback position, running back position, tight end, receiver. We have to generate more plays.