Last night’s game was nasty all around, let’s face it. Outcoached and physically outplayed on every side of the ball. The result? SYR- 49, WVU- 23.
For this game, I decided that the HailWV Team needed to do a “Brutally Honest Roundtable.” After the jump is when all the armchair and keyboard quarterbacking starts. Keep in mind that I may or may not agree with my writers views at times, but I asked them to be brutally honest (which is what we do here when needed… brutal honesty) and I will run their assessment, semi-unedited and uncensorsed.
Jeremy aka SlangBus
You ever hear someone make a great argument about something, and even after they finish that argument you still feel they’re wrong? That’s how I’ve always felt about the 3-3-5 defense. It’s so……passive. You can’t ask a bunch of guys in their early 20’s and teens with just a few hours to prepare every week to ”read and react” and actually be right enough to win big games. Sure, you can blitz the safeties, but if you put them at the line, they can be steam-rolled on a straight ahead run, and if you blitz from distance, the QB has time to make reads before the defender gets there. It’s a defense that certainly works well against one type of offense (spread) but can be destroyed by a straight ahead running attack.Football is a great game because there’s no restrictions on the personnel that can be tossed out on the field. Most of the time these innovations are born out of necessity, specifically the inability to recruit a certain type of athlete. 210lb’s and not incredibly fast is easier to find on the recruiting trail than 6-3 350lb, and the 3-3-5’s design plays to this. Chris Neild (the best nose tackle I’ve seen play at WVU) was a tight end coming in. Scooter Berry (another of the best D-lineman I’ve seen) came in as Jason Gwaltney’s buddy as a fullback. These players grew into great, if slightly undersized run stoppers, hungry from being over-looked early in their careers. But alot of these guys success, and the 3-3-5’s success last year, was luck-either could’ve balked at a position change and moved on, and you can’t hope for luck at the highest level of college football. I don’t expect WVU to all of a sudden start bringing in 340lb 5 star recruits, but Fridays game showed that if Casteel is going to stick to this obviously flawed defensive system, then he needs to bring in players that can mask its flaws, or he can end up watching his ”front 6” get shredded at Tulane for all I care.
WVU rolled into Syracuse as a heavy favorite Friday night, and most expected the Mountaineers to hang 50 and call it a night.. that didn’t happen. The Orange dominated the Mountaineers on all three phases of the game, was physical, and outplayed WVU for 4 quarters. There is no sugarcoating it, no way around it, we got whipped last night. Does that mean our goals are gone? Not at all. Most fans went to social media with a doom and gloom attack after the game pointing fingers at coaches and players. Let’s stick to the facts.
Before I breakdown my end, let’s look at some stats from the game.
1st Down 20 23
Total Tards 408 443
Passing 338 249
Rushing 70 194
3rd Down 6-13 12-17
TOP 24:05 35:55
Smith 24-41 388yds 2TD 2INTs
Nassib 24-32 229yds 2TD 0INTs
Bailey 7 Rec 130yds 1TD
Back to the game. Syracuse came into Friday night with the same blueprint as last years game at Mountaineer Field that had Geno confused all day. Syracuse seemed to blitz on every play, and when they didn’t, they show it, and dropped the linebackers into coverage. The SU defenders played physical with the Mountaineer receivers and guys couldn’t get off the checks.
Ryan Nassib looked like Tom Brady (not really). The Mountaineer defense couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down (12-17) and SU dinked and dunked it’s way down the field and played ball control. SU also ran for 194 yards and ran hard all night.
Like most games, it’s won in the trenches. WVU got beat on both sides of the ball upfront. The loss of Chris Neild has showed at times this year, and that’s not a knock on the WVU nose tackles, but he played with a physical attitude and demanded double teams hat freed rushers off the end. SU did what they needed to do.
The linebackers seemed lost in assignment in covering the SU tight ends. WVU is young and the reality is, they were exposed.
The staff is doing a great job of recruiting guys on the defensive side of the ball, building depth, and making defensive recruiting a priority. If you look at the current 2012 commits, you can see that.
Where do we go from here? The goals are still there, and a Big East Championship is still a real possibility. The team can’t get down and feel sorry for themselves, the fans can’t bash players and coaches, and we need to get off the mat. One thing I’ve always known about Mountaineer football, we always got back up. Friday night we got busted in the mouth. Do you stay down and bleed, or do you get up and inflict some pain?
Round 3 is next weekend at Rutgers.
For the first time in ages, I am at a loss for words. I truly do not know what to say. So, I’ve brought in a famous former NFL Head Coach to do my talking for me.