With Doug Marrone as the new head coach of the Buffalo Bills and his Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib as one of the top signal-callers in the upcoming draft class, many are looking to get insight on the two as the 2013 NFL offseason approaches.
I spoke with former Syracuse defensive back Max Suter who played with the Orange from the 2007 season through the 2010 campaign. As a freshman, the Western Pennsylvania native was named to the All-Big East team as a kick returner. At the time, his 1,299 single-season return yards were the most in FBS history.
He finished his Syracuse career with 159 total tackles, four sacks and three forced fumbles.
Suter was recruited by Greg Robinson but came into his own as an all-around safety under Marrone's tutelage and was a member of the Orange when Nassib initially started to open the eyes of NFL scouts, general managers and head coaches...
Trapasso - What were the major differences between the time when Greg Robinson was the coach at Syracuse and when Doug Marrone took over?
Suter - Marrone was more of a hard-nosed guy. If it wasn't going to be his way, it was going to be the highway for the players. That's what we needed at Syracuse. He pretty much changed the whole dynamic of the team. There weren't many similarities between the two guys. Marrone was a great coach and great person to be around.
Trapasso - You say Marrone was more of a hard-nosed coach. Did he still have a pretty good relationship with his players on and off the field?
Suter - No doubt about it. He was all business when it was game time and when we were practicing. But anytime you needed to speak with him about any off the field problems you were having he was always there to talk to.
Trapasso - You played defense, and Marrone has more of an offensive background. When he was hired by the Bills, he was quoted saying he likes to take more of a CEO-type approach as a head coach. How involved was he with the defense?
Suter - He gave pointers, but when I was there, he wasn't too involved. He pretty much let (defensive coordinator) Scott Shafer do what he needed to do to get our defense to where it needed to be. Whenever Marrone saw things that he could chime in on and help, he definitely did. But for the most part, from when I was there, he let Shafer do what he needed to do. Shafer even went to him whenever he needed tidbits or anything like that.
Trapasso - How important was Marrone's presence to the drastic turnaround at Syracuse? Was it more his coaching style and coaching staff or more about a group of good players coming together?
Suter - We had the players when Robinson was there. It wasn't the players. It definitely was Marrone. When he came in, he definitely changed all aspects of the team. Players really wanted to play for Marrone. The players respected him. He wasn't playing favorites. If you were the best player, you'd be out there playing. I think Marrone coming in definitely changed that program around.
Trapasso - Having practiced against it every week, what would you say Marrone's offenses would try to do to attack opposing defenses? What was a staple of his offense while you were there?
Suter - He likes to control the ground game for sure. He was big on making sure that we had evenly distributed runs and passes. These last couple of years—and this started to happen when I was leaving Syracuse—that hurry-up offense, getting to the ball, getting things done worked for them.
Trapasso - Shifting to Ryan Nassib, what are his best attributes? Maybe not ones that are blatantly obvious on film.
Suter - Ryan was definitely a student of the game. He always was in the film room, always was there doing as much as he could to learn about an opponent. Another thing, Ryan was just always there for his players. Anytime anyone needed anything, he was there to help out. Ryan was a great team player.
Trapasso - How critical were Marrone and Nate Hackett to Nassib's development from a redshirt QB to the player he was while you were there to the player he is today?
Suter - Marrone and Hackett definitely had a great influence on where Ryan is today. Those guys are very knowledgeable. I can't say enough good things. Hackett was always there to help Ryan. You could just see Ryan grow the more time he spent with Marrone and Hackett.
Trapasso - Do you think Ryan Nassib has more room to develop? How about if the Buffalo Bills draft him and he plays in the same system next year? Or has he reached his ceiling based on talent and natural skill?
Suter - Ryan is a student of the game. There is always room to learn. There is always room to get better. With Ryan, he would do anything he can to be the best player he can be. I definitely do not think he has reached his maximum potential. I'm a firm believer in the more you practice, the more you study, and I definitely think that's true as it pertains to Ryan as he moves on to the next level.