Doug Marrone had plenty of questions to answer as he took center stage at SU media day Friday at the Carrier Dome. This was a week from hell for DM, with players being involved in party stabbings and arrests that dominated the headlines. Many around Syracuse football wondered how Marrone would handle it and he took no time to address the issue.
“Obviously Marcus sales and Jonny Miller are suspended from the football program. When there is more information I will definitely let you know.”
That was all from Marrone, however, on the dramas that have unfolded over the past week. There were other things to focus on, like competing for a Big East title. The Fizz was on hand to cover Media Day and presents the top 5 quotes from the extravaganza.
1) “Speed, speed speed, make plays and be physical. There are not many teams that can win that don’t play physical.” – Marrone
If there is one thing all SU coaches can agree on, it’s the need for fast players. Speed on offense, speed on defense and speed on special teams. The Dougie wants his team to play fast and with an edge. And when DM talks about speed it is not limited to running and quickness. It’s about going 100% at all times, including practice. Marrone says he wants his team to fly around during the week and have to be asked by coaches to turn it down a notch. HCDM says the best teams he has been around are the ones that crank it up full blast daily and works hard all the time. He wants a team that is fast and physical. The ‘Cuse is trying to do that in recruiting, getting bigger in the trenches and faster at linebacker, safety and receiver.
2) “We lost Derrell Smith and Doug Hogue. Not only were they great football players but great people and leaders in the locker room and on the field. That is probably the number one concern for the defense, it is the leadership.” – Marrone
Leadership is one of those intangibles in football that can make a good team into a great team. Last season Hogue and Smith were clearly the leaders out on the field for the defense and made it a top unit in the country. This season though, SU has to find its leadership on defense from a different source. Chandler Jones, Shamarko Thomas and Phillip Thomas stand out as players with potential to rise up and take on that responsibility. But for the linebacking unit, leadership is still a gigantic void to fill. However, linebacker coach Dan Conley says there is at least one player than can fill that role. “I think Danny Vaughn is one of those guys that gots those natural leadership skills and he has been in the program going into his fourth season now and he is on of those guys that stands out.” DC acknowledges the rest of his unit is young and stressed he doesn’t want to “push a kid into a leadership role if they are not ready for it.”
3) “The transition went smoothly because I actually played mike linebacker my whole life and my first time playing outside is when I got here. So I am right back at home where I first started.” – Marquis Spruill
A big question mark coming into this season is the linebacking crew. Spruill excelled last year on the outside, but this year he’s the man in the middle. It is a relief to know that Marquis actually feels more comfortable playing the middle and is ready to take the next step. He has high standards for himself too. “My role is a little bit bigger. I have to be a leader, and last year I could just do my own thing. As a freshman, I didn’t know anything last year so I could get away with a lot more. But this year my role is different. I have to step up, I have to step up a lot.” Vaughn and Dyshawn Davis are penciled in as the other starters at linebacker and both have little on field experience. But Spruill says one of those guys is standing out. “Dyshawn is real athletic and he doesn’t know much yet (about playing linebacker). He plays hard, he gives it 100% every time.” Davis not only has caught the eyes of his teammates, but his coaches as well.
4) “When you go out and recruit linebackers, you are going to see less of those big thick guys like Glenn Young and I. The game has changed. You see so much of those 3-4 wide receiver and spread offenses, you need guys big enough to play in the box and stop the run but also need that can go out in space and play on a receiver. So it’s that hybrid position now. It’s a skilled linebacker position which made it a smooth transition for him. He is a contact guy, coachable and eager to learn. All those pieces fell together and he had a very nice spring.” – Dan Conley
Dyshawn was a safety coming out of high school and never played linebacker before. He was striking people with his athleticism and his speed is what the Orange love about him.
5) “I did (play on both sides of the ball) but this is not high school anymore. It is an other level. Where ever Doug Marrone and his staff want to put me, I’ll go and help out anywhere possible. Right now I am at corner, but I am still working hard to get on the field anyway I can.” – Ritchy Desir
Rarely does a freshman on the football field give you cause for giddiness, but listening to Florida recruiting expert Larry Bluestein talk about Desir can make you rise out of your chair. If you missed it, do yourself a favor and listen to him now and watch some highlights. Playmaker is written all over him. Putting Ritchy at cornerback is great idea, since the position is thin with no returning starters. Desir has a chance to get lots of playing time, and it’s nice to hear he’s willing to play any position asked.
There was a palpable buzz throughout the day at the Dome, and this team believes it can win and win now. Every player The Fizz spoke to is buying into Marrone and his philosophy. There’s a lot of trust building on this team and truly a family atmosphere. And as an added bonus, the bologna sandwiches are top notch at club 44.
Posted: Dave Van Moffaert