Mountaineers looking to get that trophy back.
Syracuse takes on West Virginia this Friday night at 8pm in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse upset WVU in Morgantown last season for the first time in forever, and on Homecoming Day. The Mountaineers are looking for a little revenge this season. Therefore we had to resume our typical blog Q&A with Chris Sedenka of Flying Dub-V. A radio man by trade, he is a good friend and a loyal WVU alumnus, as well as a great expert on sports and the Big East. Nice to catch up. The questions are below.
1. Orange::44: West Virginia is playing very well right now, with their only loss to LSU. Do you see West Virginia winning the Big East this season?
Chris: I do. If WVU plays their game, it's hard to see them losing more than one game in the Big East. And it seems that one loss may do it this season in the conference. The Mountaineers can't bury themselves with mistakes and slow starts. If they do, then anything is possible. But, strictly looking at the matchups, they are pretty favorable on paper. But, hey... there's a reason they play the games so we'll see.
2. Orange::44: Syracuse got the better of West Virginia in Morgantown last year. What is the number one thing WVU has to do to make sure that doesn't happen again?
Chris: They have to protect the ball. The Mountaineers have been buried by mistakes the last few years, and the biggest issue is protecting the ball. It put them in a hole against LSU earlier this year, and got them in a bit of trouble against Connecticut. If WVU holds on to the ball, and gets off to a good start they are a tough team to hang with. Special Teams needs to continue to improve as well. The unit did well in the last game, but overall has struggled. Look for Syracuse to try to exploit the unit as much as possible.
3. Orange::44: Geno Smith seems to be much more consistent this season. Do you agree?
Chris: It's a great scheme for him to play in. He has a live arm, and is now able to show it off. His completion percentage is a bit low, but he is also throwing the ball much more. He moves well in the pocket, and is tough to bring down. Geno is also a natural leader, and you can see it on the field. It's been fun to watch him mature. He also has a very good crop of receivers.
4. Orange::44: WVU has had consistent strength at running back the last several years. Now, who has taken over the running duties and is he living up to the recent past?
Chris: Dustin Garrison is the latest to take the reins. He is a freshman from Texas, who has done well the last two games. I wouldn't say it's a done deal that he's the primary back, but he has certainly taken the lead in that department. You will also see Shawne Alson on short yardage and freshmen Andrew Buie and Vernard Roberts as well. But, this offense doesn't have a true rusher like you have seen in the past with WVU. The true superstar now is Geno Smith.
5. Orange::44: Obviously Syracuse is most vulnerable in the secondary. What is the Mountaineers' biggest weakness and how can Syracuse exploit it?
Chris: WVU seems to be improving defensively, but the pass rush is still inconsistent. Look for Syracuse to let some plays develop early to see if they can find open receivers down the field. The Mountaineer kick coverage is also a bit of a disaster. They have already allowed two touchdowns and are one of the worst teams in Net Punting in the country. Look for the Orange to try to do as much as possible to win the field position battle and time of possession.
6. Orange::44: Finally, some quick thoughts on Syracuse no longer being a conference opponent in the not too distant future?
Chris: It's strange. It's a better rivalry than most people want to believe. There have been some great games throughout the years, including huge upsets and even huge brawls. It will be interesting to see if the two schools look to pay some non-conference games. Maybe not every year, but at least on occasion.
Thanks to Chris as always. Check him out at Flying Dub-V, as well as on the airwaves out of Portland, Maine on 1440am, talking about all things sports. My answers to his questions are posted here.