No. 11 West Virginia travels to Syracuse in search of second Big East Conference victory
Published: Friday, October 21, 2011
Updated: Friday, October 21, 2011 00:10
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said his players have been improving each weel of the season and will eventually play at the highest level possible.
Junior quarterback Geno Smith has done just that so far this season, but will look to make more progress against a Syracuse team that beat him at home last season and forced him to throw three interceptions.
"I hope Syracuse prepares for last year's offense," Holgorsen said. "That would be good for us. We're coaching them (the players). Geno had good coaches here last year, too. You just have to keep working with them. He's willing to work hard every week, and get better every week."
Holgorsen noticed the biggest difference in last year's game against the Orange was the turnovers. After watching film this week, the first-year coach saw Syracuse coming at opposing offenses with a lot of pressure. If Smith can get rid of the ball to his playmakers quickly, the offense won't have the problems it had last year.
"They have the potential to be really good this year," Holgorsen said of the Syracuse defense. "It's not the same team. It's the same scheme, the same coordinator, the same that's trying to be accomplished."
Smith will have to communicate with his offense and use his ability to recognize what the defense is showing to reduce the turnovers and put the team in a good position to succeed.
"I think we have a fairly good idea of what they're going to do," Holgorsen said. "If they come out and do something different, then that's why coaches are paid to do their job. They figure out what they're doing and try to adjust and take advantage of what their plan was coming into the game."
Despite Syracuse's poorly ranked pass and rush defense, Holgorsen and the team realized the Orange hav played against some pretty tough offenses such as USC, Wake Forest and Toledo. The coaches feel the Syracuse defense gave WVU some good opportunities on film to see what it does against spread offenses.
The Orange is also getting some defenders back from injury this week, and the offense will have to key in on those guys and know where they are at all times.
"They're getting one of their pass attackers back. No. 99 (Chandler Jones)," Holgorsen said. "What I've seen on film from last year and their first game this year, (he) is as good as any defensive end in the league. Getting him back will cause problems."
Opponents have averaged almost 400 yards of offense per game against Syracuse. West Virginia has gained more than 400 yards of offense in every single game this season, except for the first game against Marshall that was stopped early due to weather conditions. The Mountaineers have gotten more than 600 yards of offense in two of their last five games as well.
Smith and the offense have all the motivation for this year's game to prepare better and come out fast. The questions will be: Have they learned from the mistakes of last year and will they play to their full potential this year?