Game Preview: Syracuse vs. West Virginia

The Mountaineers are coming off a bye week and now they head to Syracuse to take on the Orange.  Hopefully, the Mountaineers have not lost their winning mentality after being off for a week.  Most Mountaineer fans remember last year when Syracuse came to Morgantown and beat them.  Now things have changed and the Mountaineers will be looking to give Syracuse a home loss.

Last year when these two teams played, Geno Smith threw for 178 yards one touchdown and three interceptions.  This year Smith hasn’t thrown for less than 230 yards in any game and he only has three interceptions on the season.  Smith also has greatly improved since last year; he is more poised in the pocket and his decision making skills are faster.  While the Mountaineers did lose Noel Devine, this year running backs Dustin Garrison and Vernard Roberts have been a strong two headed monster in the backfield racking up a combined eight touchdowns.  Prepare to see Smith throw it up and down the field all night as well as Garrison and Roberts ground and pound as the offense looks to continue its domination.

The defense was also a bit of a concern, but they were able to bring a whole new level of intensity against UCONN and they will look to do the same against Syracuse.  Last year the defense was only able to come away with one sack and force a fumble which they did not recover.  Though they had some struggles early in the season, they now seem to be stepping up their game.  When they played UCONN, the defense had their best game of the year.  Bruce Irvin was definitely the defensive player of the game by recording 1.5 sacks which in one case led to a safety.  Terence Garvin also had some big plays by bringing down Johnny McEntee 1.5 times as well.  Look for the defense to continue this against Syracuse since its seems like they have finally found their mojo.

Going into the UCONN game the biggest concern was the Mountaineers' special teams and coming out of the bye week special teams is still a concern.  One problem is the Mountaineers have failed to find a punter who can kick the ball inside the twenty.  Although the punter used against UCONN did do a better job than the punter before him it was not that much of an improvement.  Another problem was that of punt returner Tavon Austin, whenever a punt came his way it seemed like he was afraid to catch it.  On a couple of punts it looked like Austin had the other return man take the ball instead of him.  This is something Austin has to fix since he will be the main punt returner and he cannot be afraid to get hit.

Taking all of these areas into account this should be another walk in the park game for the Mountaineers.  If they can get the upper hand then they will make orange juice out of Syracuse.

Prediction: Syracuse-10  WVU-42

Player of the Game: Geno Smith 21-45 465 yards 3TDs

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