CFN Pinstripe Analysis - Syracuse 38, WVU 14

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 29, 2012


CFN's thoughts and analysis on the Orange's shocking and snowy blowout.

Richard Cirminiello

Slightly different postseason result than a year ago for West Virginia, which reveled in a 70-33 Orange Bowl slamming of Clemson. The Mountaineers were disgraceful in the Bronx, poorly prepared and improperly motivated, regardless of the venue or the weather conditions.

Oh, and for those who reference the blizzard in response to West Virginia’s plight, be sure to note that Syracuse is one of the nation’s few indoor programs.

The bloom is off Dana Holgorsen’s rose. He better find answers on defense in a hurry, because the Mountaineers are flat-out hideous on that side of the ball. You’ll have to eyeball film of a lower level D to find tackling as bad it is in West Virginia.

Doug Marrone, on the contrary, did a fantastic job at Syracuse this season. The Orange, which was on shaky footing in mid-October, finished the year 6-1, beating Missouri in Columbia, Big East champ Louisville and the Mountaineers in a rout.

Doggone snow. Robbed us of watching Tavon Austin at top speed in his final game at this level. Teammate Stedman Bailey, by the way, looks as if he’d make big plays during a tsunami.

Syracuse backs Jerome Smith and Prince-Tyson Gulley? Both back next season. Gulley ought to consider a transfer north of the border, because the junior looked eminently comfortable navigating the slick and snow-covered field of Yankee Stadium.

The Orange proved this evening that a solid ground game is like flood insurance; even if you call on it sparingly, it’s nice to have when the weather becomes unpredictable. West Virginia had no answer, either offensively or defensively, for the running of Gulley and Smith.

Today’s debacle should do nothing to change opinions about the future of Geno Smith. Great head plus good tools and fundamentals still equals a bright future in the pros.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN

- It’s hard to fathom just how quickly this West Virginia team has fallen off throughout the year. Once Texas Tech laid the template of how to stop the Mountaineer offense, it was all she wrote. And as we all know, West Virginia’s defense wasn’t ever going to keep it in games.

- On the flip side of the spectrum, Syracuse ended the season on an uptick. After starting the season 2-4, the Orange began playing much better football behind senior quarterback Ryan Nassib. As he got better throughout the season, so too did the prospects of Syracuse’s season.

- Is Geno Smith really going to be that good in the pros? Many are projecting him to be the first quarterback taken, but the jury is still out on his decision making once he gets out of the Dana Holgorsen attack. Smith struggled with instinctively with his secondary reads once teams began challenging his receivers at the line and throwing off the offensive timing. That’ll happen every week in the NFL.

- Okay Holgorsen, we know you can move the chains on offense, now go out and hire one heck of a defensive coordinator--or else...

- You get the feeling that this game would have been much different if not for the weather. That’s not to say that Syracuse still wouldn’t have scored a bushel of points against the Mountaineer defense, but Geno and gang would have likely had a better go of things on offense with less of a wintry mix of snow, ice, and yuck.

- Speaking of which, yeah it’s Yankee Stadium, is playing in New York City in the dead of winter really a reward for teams? It’s highly unlikely players from both schools slathered up the suntan lotion to work on their tans at Coney Island Beach.

By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek


1) Rutgers, do you see what life can be like when you have an actual quarterback… you know, like the one Syracuse had this season and in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl? If Ryan Nassib had played for Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights would definitely be Big East champions, preparing for the Sugar or Orange Bowl at this moment.

2) Doug Marrone's work with the aforementioned Mr. Nassib is precisely why his body of work has been so impressive. Sure, Syracuse hasn't claimed BCS bowl bids the way Dick MacPherson's and Paul Pasqualoni's teams did in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but when you realize that Marrone inherited from Greg Robinson, he's done quite well in Carrier Dome Country.

3) West Virginia wins a BCS bowl every now and then, but moments of pronounced success should not allow this disastrous season to remain ignored. This is a brave new Big 12 world for the Mountaineers, and their inability to tackle throughout this game in New York is a reminder of how powerless their defense is at the moment. With Geno Smith and other elite athletes leaving for the NFL, Dana Holgorsen faces an uphill battle in 2013.

4) Remember, after the disjointed performance of the Pac-12 officiating crew in this game (led by Jay Stricherz), that another Pac-12 crew will work the BCS National Championship Game. Buckle up.