Can the Orange get the same type of pressure on Smith this season in a new offensive scheme? Well, Marrone doesn't want to compare Holgorsen's scheme to that of former coach Bill Stewart. He just knows what he sees on tape and that's the play of Smith.
"The quarterback's been outstanding. Geno Smith has done an outstanding job,'' Marrone said. "He's much more mature, good in the pocket, knows where he's going with the football. You can see that his decision process is so much quicker now. I just look at that - not from this coach to that coach, because I don't know that - but I just see someone who has really matured in the system that they're running now.
"I still look at West Virginia's offense as explosive. With the players they have and spreading the field and putting that pressure on you defensively. But if someone was to ask me today, 'What's the difference?' I'd say Geno Smith. He's been outstanding.''
Syracuse, meanwhile, has had a great deal of trouble defending the pass. The Orange ranks No. 112 in the nation in pass defense, allowing 293 yards per game. Four of SU's six opponents have thrown for at least 300 yards and a fifth was "held" to 297. The only team that didn't throw for a ton of yards against Syracuse was FCS member Rhode Island.
That defense, though, should get a boost this week. Chandler Jones, a second-team All-Big East end, and strong safety Olando Fisher will return after both being sidelined since the opening game with leg injuries. Syracuse also got safety Shamarko Thomas back a week ago for a 37-34 win at Tulane after he'd missed two games with a hamstring injury.
Marrone said both Jones and Fisher did a good job of staying in games on the sidelines, but there should be a difference with both on the field.
"I think they bring a certain type of leadership on the field that will benefit our defense,'' Marrone said. "Do I think that all of a sudden that gives us an edge? Absolutely not. But are we going to be better because of those two players being on the field? Absolutely.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.