Sat 10/23/10 12:00 PM
USF W 20-6
Pitt L 45-14
Series: Syracuse 30-27
First Meeting: 1945
Last Meeting: 2009
WVU's game notes state that the Schwartzwalder Trophy "is the only tangible award that WVU plays for with a conference opponent. The Mountaineers' only other current opponent with a trophy involved is against in-state opponent Marshall, when the "Friends of Coal Bowl" Trophy is up for grabs.
Putting aside the lame attempt to legitimize the Marshall series by the creation of a bauble, this note stirred a reminiscence.
Can anyone name another trophy that West Virginia used to play for annually, and its fate? Answer at the end of this column.
Athletic Director Oliver Luck had one of his most productive passing days ever against Syracuse. In a narrow 27-24 loss to the Orange in 1981, Ollie completed 34 of 48 passes for 360 yards and two scores. That performance remains the top passing show for a Mountaineer in the Syracuse series. Running back Mickey Walczak snared 12 of those passes in a game that served as foreshadowing for WVU's Peach Bowl win over Florida, in which he caught another eight aerials from Luck.
CLOSE IN THE STANDINGS
As West Virginia tries to continue to narrow the gap in the all-time series standings (Syracuse leads 30-27) the Mountaineers have already pulled ahead on the list of all-time winningest FBS teams. WVU has 685 wins in its football history, putting it 14th on the list. Syracuse, at 681, is 15th.
The Mountaineers could, with a successful conclusion to this year and another stellar 2011, top the 700-win mark in 2011. WVU would likely be the 14th team to do that, as Auburn is just four wins away from that total.
In order to make the stat books balance out, some seemingly odd numbers have to be applied on certain plays. For example, last week's Geno Smith to Jock Sanders to Noel Devine pass and lateral (I won't call it a hook and lateral, because Sanders didn't run a hook route) resulted in Sanders being "credited" with a loss of four receiving yards, while Noel Devine got credit for 11 receiving yards and the touchdown.
Later, Terence Garvin's fumble recovery and run after snaring Keith Tandy's bobble resulted in another item that looks odd in the final stats. Garvin has five yards credited to his stats for an interception return, but no interceptions.
This points out one of the things I'd like to see changed in college stat keeping – the recording of quarterback sacks as rushing yards. Lumping those numbers in with those resulting from designed running plays can often skew the statistical picture. Teams that rack up a lot of sacks thus show the benefit on their run defense, when that shouldn't be the case. Statisticians already track sacks for defensive purposes, so it wouldn't, or shouldn't be a big deal to pull those numbers out of the rushing yardage statistics. Kneel-downs aren't credited as rushing losses for the quarterback executing the maneuver (those go in a category called "Team Rushes"), so neither should pass attempts be turned into running plays.
Most schools put three or four assistant coaches in the press box, but the Orange place just two. Only Nathaniel Hackett, the passing game coordinator, and defensive coordinator Scott Shafer man spots above the field for SU. The rest of the coaching staff works from the sidelines during the game.
CRIMP IN THE ARMOR
Syracuse suffered a horrendous stretch of injuries in the off- and pre-season that resulted in no fewer than eight players being declared out for the entire 2010 campaign. That list includes cornerback Ri'Shard Anderson, tight end Cody Catalina, fullback Carl Cutler, defensive linemen Ollie Haney and Jared Kimmel, quarterback Nick Raven, wide receivers Jarrod West, Aaron Weaver and Steve Rene and running back Jerome Smith.
Even though a number of those players have been out since before the season began, the impact of their absences shouldn't be underestimated. We tend to forget a player once he's been out a few weeks, unless he's the star quarterback or running back, but those aren't the only positions that impact a team. There's no doubt that Syracuse is feeling the effects of its lengthy injury list.
West Virginia, along with Pitt and Penn State, used to compete for the "Old Ironsides" Trophy, which was apparently a three-sided award that went to the winner of the round-robin of games each year. When West Virginia won both games in 1984, it requested that the trophy be sent its way, but a search for it at the two Pennsylvania schools was reportedly fruitless.
Bonus: There's another such trophy that has apparently fallen out of disuse as well. More to come on that from BlueGoldNews.com in the future.