Orange Watch: Head coach, QB position in spotlight as Syracuse goes to ACC

Smith carved up the UConn defense

The five year cycle is complete.

The final members of the Greg Robinson era who came on campus in 2008, the fifth year seniors, including record-breaking quarterback Ryan Nassib, who contributed greatly to the program’s turnaround under Doug Marrone by posting two bowl victories and 8-5 seasons in three years, have moved on.

Jerome Smith returns next year; Will Marrone?

In the afterglow of the second-half rout of old foe West Virginia to win the Pinstripe Bowl, there will be some big spots to fill on the two-deep roster, and at least for the interim, questions surrounding whether or not Marrone himself will be tempted by a big bucks offer from an NFL owner eager to have him install a program combining his college and NFL experience emphasizing accountability for his players and staff.

» Related: Orange defense stifles West Virginia

For his part, it was logical Marrone wanted nothing to do with NFL head coaching talk as we inquired about the topic with him following the win at Yankee Stadium this past weekend.  It was time to celebrate the moment.

But it’s hard to believe he and his agent won’t be receiving feelers as the NFL regular season has come to an end, and that at a minimum he will be put in the position of having to think about a much bigger contract versus continuing on with his “dream job” stewarding the program as it makes the move into the ACC including new annual Atlantic Division rivals Florida State and Clemson.

As winter workouts commence in a couple of weeks heading into spring ball, all eyes will be on who succeeds Nassib, the best at the position at the ‘Cuse since Donovan McNabb.  Charley Loeb, who came in cold off the bench to replace Nassib for one play in the bowl game completing an eight-yard pass, will likely get the first shot in his fifth year with the program.

Incoming Texas scholastic standout Zach Allen is expected to enroll for the second semester, giving him the chance to be part of spring ball as he looks to get in the mix with the incumbent trio of Ashton Broyld, Terrel Hunt and John Kinder, and there’s another newcomer in Pa. recruit Austin Wilson.

» Related: Will Marrone bolt to NFL?

Plenty of healthy competition, which to nose tackle Jay Bromley, who blossomed his junior year second statistically among the D-line (credited with a blocked field goal in the Pinstripe Bowl that he said he didn’t think he blocked) and now steps into a senior leadership role himself, is key to keeping the direction upward.

“It amps up everybody, everybody on the team,” Bromley said about the four game winning streak to end the season, six of the last seven. “The freshmen, the sophomores, the juniors, incoming freshmen, we really have to step it up.  We see how good we can be, but as good as we are a lot of those seniors aren’t going to be with us anymore, so that’s a lot of space (starting  positions) to be filled in.”

New league, new quarterback, maybe or maybe not a new coach; 2013 will be an interesting intersection of a program building successfully into its fifth season of recruits, with the challenge of feeling its way through a new conference schedule.

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About Brad Bierman 848 Articles
Now in his sixth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.