With one week left until West Virginia takes on Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl, we do a little question and answer segment with fellow Fansided editor Kevin Weinheimer. He is the lead editor of the Syracuse site InsidetheLoudHouse.com. Kevin got my insight on the game, which you can see here.
Since I answered a few questions for him, I thought I would turn the tables on Mr. Weinheimer and have him provide his insights on the Pinstripe Bowl.
1.) Syracuse started the season at 2-4 before winning 5 of the last 6 to make a bowl game. What changed in this team to turn them into a bowl team after what looked like a lost season?
Really the major thing that changed was the containment of absolutely silly mistakes. In the season opener against Northwestern, Syracuse quit on a backwards pass when there was no whistle leading to a touchdown, and then overcame it to take the lead until they committed a personal foul in the fourth quarter on a third and long play. Sure enough, Northwestern scored two plays later for the go-ahead touchdown. Against Rutgers, a blocked punt was the difference in the loss on the road. Numerous penalties, dumb turnovers, and mistakes that should not be made were the reason for the slow start. Looking back, the Orange could have easily started off the season 4-2 or 5-1. This was incredibly frustrating to the fan base, but Syracuse has since limited these mistakes which is a large reason why they got hot down the stretch.
2.) The Syracuse defense is not exactly an imposing force this season, 50th in total defense and 62nd against the pass. Given the struggles in the secondary this season for the Orange against a slate of weak passing teams, do you think the Orange have an answer for the Mountaineers passing attack?
Well, it depends on which Syracuse defense we’re talking about. In the first half of games this season, Syracuse as a whole has struggled early on, particularly the defense. This is partly because the offense would have costly turnovers, and partly because this team has just seemed to start slow at times. However, when push comes to shove the defense is more than capable of getting timely stops, and has shown it throughout the year with the numerous come from behind victories Syracuse has. When Syracuse beat South Florida for the biggest comeback in school history earlier this season, the defense had multiple times in the fourth quarter where they would come up with stops on third and short. The Syracuse offense is explosive, but they need the defense to keep them in it if they are going to win.
3.) Obviously the Schwartzwalder trophy will not be offered up to the winner of the Pinstripe Bowl, much to the chagrin of Mountaineers fans across the country. I am of the opinion that the trophy should be on the line. What is your opinion on the matter?
I tend to agree with you, and I’d venture to say about 75% of Syracuse agrees with you as well. The argument against it is that West Virginia left the Big East, and that the two teams not playing each other annually is their fault so the trophy shouldn’t be on the line. Since Syracuse (along with the rest of the conference) are leaving the Big East at the end of the season like WVU did, I’m not buying that argument. However I think that if the two teams aren’t going to play for the trophy in this game, the trophy should simply be retired until the two teams play annually again. It’s unfortunate because it was a great way to honor Ben Schwartzwalder, who was a terrific coach for both schools. I would love to see the trophy on the line, but if it’s going to be pick and choose when it gets put up, the trophy should be retired like the Big East as we know it.