Thursday, October 20, 2011

Six Questions for Orange44 about Cuse/WVU

WVU hits the road to take on Syracuse in a revenge game from last season. The game is mysteriously on a Friday night on ESPN. You know, good ole Big East marketing at its finest. Recently we sent some questions to BH from Orange44 about Syracuse, and the matchup tomorrow night against the Mountaineers.

1. Syracuse has shown plenty of potential, but it seems that they have struggled to put a full game together. How much of a concern is this?

BH: It’s a huge concern, especially the way Syracuse overachieved last season. Syracuse has as many offensive weapons this season, as well as a quarterback with another year of experience, and drives are stalling in the fourth quarter. Either Syracuse is failing to adjust to other teams, or they are just plain tired by the end. You’d think that wouldn’t be the case however, since they have now played and won several overtime games. Either way, despite being 4-2 there is plenty to be worried about.

2. The defense looks to finally be getting healthy. How much better can that unit be?

BH: They can be way better. Chandler Jones is back in the starting lineup after several games out with a lower leg injury. That should greatly increase the containing potential of the defensive line, as well as increasing the pressure on the quarterback, something Syracuse has lacked most of the season so far. The secondary is fairly experienced, coming back from last year, but haven’t played like it. They need to get better quickly. They are fairly capable of one-on-one coverage, but mental mistakes have allowed several long pass plays all season.

3. Is Doug Marron satisfied with Ryan Nassib's progression?

BH: On the one hand it sounds like it. He is very confident in him, and he is nowhere close to starting someone else. But on the other hand, he calls very few pass plays that test defenses, and honestly very few passes that aren’t short slants or short rollouts. Either way, he has regressed in the last couple of games, but he does have a solid arm, and the occasional ability to run for first downs. Overall he has to be pleased.

4. Syracuse beat WVU last year, but against a different offensive scheme. How will they try to slowdown the new offense?

BH: Pressuring the quarterback will be key, as well as stopping the run like they have been. The key to beat Syracuse is through the air, and if the defense is having a good day, then WVU is in trouble. If Syracuse limits long passes they will have a real chance for another upset. Causing turnovers like they did last year will have to be key. But making Geno uncomfortable like he was last season is truly the key.

5. It's a random Friday night game. Will the Dome be packed?

BH: The best answer is probably. It’s not a nooner, so the student section normally would be extremely fired up and ready to go. The only problem is it’s “Family Weekend”. In favor of a raucous student section, it will be fairly muted with families everywhere, where most freshman will have taken their families just so they aren’t having awkward conversations in their dorm rooms. So there should be about 42k in there. But it probably won’t get too loud.

6. With Syracuse on its way to the ACC, will the WVU-SU rivalry die?

BH: As we know it, probably. With essentially only a few games to schedule every season once ACC play starts, Syracuse will probably not want to take on WVU every season still. They will want to schedule easier games. Maybe once in a while they will play just to see if that trophy will go back and forth, but it is probably done. It’s been fun though.

A big thanks to BH for helping us out. And be sure to check out Orange44 for the best analysis of Syracuse athletics.

Big East Preview, Week 8

We have a good crop of important conference games this week in the Big East. The top teams all hit the road for tough road matches. Will all keep on trucking at the top, or will the second tier close things up moving forward? To the picks...

Last Week: 2-2
Overall: 31-13

Bye Week: Pittsburgh, Connecticut

Rutgers at Louisville: This is an interesting matchup. Rutgers comes in 5-1, but will be the underdog against the reeling Cardinals. The Knights did win a close game against Navy last week. Rutgers may only have one loss, but haven't exactly blown the doors off of people with their offense. The Knights did compile over 400 yards against Navy, but still turned the ball over numerous times and needed a blocked field goal to pull it out. Freshman quarterback Gary Nova has played pretty well, but will have a major test this weekend against the Louisville defense. The Cardinals did lose last week, but the defense did hold one of the best offenses in the nation to just 25 points. Louisville may only have two wins, but it's a team that has been in every game. The offense showed a little more last week, and should keep pace with the Knights. This game may come down to who is more mistake-prone. Give the edge to the Cardinals. A combination of a home crowd, night game, and offensive improvements will give them the slight edge over Rutgers.

Prediction: 24-21 Louisville

Cincinnati at South Florida: How about those Bearcats? Following a miserable season, Cincy is now just one win away from bowl eligibility. Meanwhile, South Florida has completely fallen apart in Big East play. Now 0-2 in the conference, the Bulls can pretty much forget about playing in a BCS bowl already. However, USF is finally back home, where they play a much different brand of football. Look for B.J. Daniels and the Bulls to aggressively attack the Bearcat defense. The passing game will be used, with Daniels running draws out of that. Cincinnati's defense has been very good this year, but can be susceptible to a quarterback like Daniels. On the other side, the Bearcats will have to get off to a better start than the last few weeks. The Bulls are not a team that will let them off the hook. Look for a lot on the ground from the Bearcats with Zach Collaros and Isaiah Pead. The Bulls have been miserable against the run, and will have to stack the box to slow it down. Of course, this will open door for the Bearcat passing game. It seems that this game could be a fun one, with these mismatches. Expect a close game late into the second half, with Daniels willing his team to victory. South Florida should be a good enough team to not lose three straight games.

Prediction: 31-30 South Florida

Game of the Week: (15) West Virginia at Syracuse: The Mountaineers invade the dome on a random Friday night to seek revenge. Syracuse had an outstanding win last year in Morgantown, and look to pull off an even bigger upset. WVU is a much better team than last year. Geno Smith has the passing game on cruise control, and the running game is starting to come around as well. The defense is gaining more confidence, and even the special teams has awoken for a five year slumber. Meanwhile, the Syracuse offense has looked much better the last few weeks, and Ryan Nassib is progressing well. The defense will finally get Chandler Jones back to help the line, but the secondary will have to step up. Expect a fired up Orange team early, maybe even taking a slight lead. But, like in most games, too much Geno and company throughout will give WVU the edge by the final whistle. Full preview tomorrow

Prediction: 38-27 West Virginia