Aiming for bowl appearance, Marrone hands keys of offense to first-year coach Hackett
NEWPORT, R.I. –– When asked if he had a minute to sum up his expectations for the upcoming 2010 season, Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone provided his quickest answer of Big East Media Day.
Heading into his second year, his goal is clear. And to Marrone, it’s a self-proclaimed, simple truth.
‘I can give it to you in less than 60 (seconds),’ Marrone said. ‘We need to turn this thing around quick. We need to go to a bowl. If we don’t go to a bowl, I will be very disappointed. … Yes, I think I can stand on that statement. It’s the truth. As long as you tell the truth.’
On Tuesday, Marrone laid out a finish line for his team. And with that, he elaborated on the first main step he took in reaching that finish line. A decision that will ultimately take an expected game-day load off him.
There is a new offensive play-caller. An unexpected one, as it’s not Marrone. Instead, first-year quarterbacks coach Nathaniel Hackett will take control of the offensive plays, Marrone announced last Friday.
The clock is ticking. Starting … now.
Delving into the rationale behind the change Tuesday in Newport, Marrone said he will still share offensive game-planning duties with Hackett. Marrone also maintained that all calls will ultimately go through him and that he has the ability to change any and every play call — including those on defense and special teams.
The decision came as a change in plans, as Marrone said throughout the spring that he would be taking on play-calling duties this fall after firing former offensive coordinator Rob Spence.
Marrone clarified how exactly the 30-year-old Hackett’s role will break down as the play-caller and why he made the decision to shift duties from himself.
‘What happened was, in the beginning, we were looking for someone to fill that role and I knew that I could call the plays,’ Marrone said. ‘I knew that I could do that. But in the back of my mind, I was concerned about the management of the games. When you are a play-caller — I know myself, I get aggressive. When we get down to fourth-and-one, should we punt? Should we go for it? I just felt that if I was calling the plays I would want to go for all of them.’
Extraneous greed on the part of the head coach was the main factor for Marrone’s delegation to Hackett, it appears. He seems to believe his ego would have been too big for the added duty this year. So, he passed it off to the little-brother figure he brought in from their time in the NFL.
‘There is an ego involved with calling a play at anytime,’ Marrone said. ‘All of a sudden you make the adjustments with the offensive coaches, then you are not watching the defense and special teams. All of a sudden, I don’t have a great flow of the game. What is good about it, with Nathaniel, if it wasn’t a good match for us, I could go ahead and cover the plays. So, I feel comfortable right now.’
Marrone thinks Hackett, a former Buffalo Bills quality control chief, is tailor-made for the job. He and Hackett’s fellow former NFL colleague, current Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt, agree.
Across the room, Wannstedt didn’t need a minute to think, either.
‘He’ll do a great job,’ he said. ‘I don’t think his age is anything (of an issue). He’s been around football all his life. He’s got a great background.’
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