"Third downs were a big factor also," the head coach continued. "We got some big plays on third down, and got some nice pass plays on third down. That was pleasing, because we hadn't been very good at that. It made a big difference in the ball game."
Indeed it did,as WVU was an impressive 9-18 on third down conversions, as compared to 4-17 for Syracuse. WVU also hit the game clincher, a 67-yard touchdown pass from Rasheed Marshall to Chris Henry, on third down.
WVU will practice "an hour of two" earlier each day this week, since there are no classes for Thanksgiving break.
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"Jason has progressed well throughout the season. It has to help his confidence. He's young, and conintuing to get better."
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Rodriguez is wary of Temple, noting that the Owls are a different team since they changed quarterbacks recently.
"Since they've put Walter Washington in, they have bene playing with confidence. You see how they've played the last few weeks, missing an extra point against Virginia Tech in overtime, and going to the last two minues against Pitt.
"Our whole focus this week is on preparing for Temple. There's no school, so other than Thanksgiving its all football. This is the biggest game of the season for us. We will talk to our team about sharing the Big East title, and that we have to do it one play at a time. I'll talk briefly about the bowl situation and the different scenarios on Monday, but after that, I don't want to talk about it. After Monday we'll focus on playing."
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On the injury front, a pair of sprains are the most serious injuries coming out of the game played on the rock hard, abrasive surface of the Carrier Dome.
Mike Lorello (foot sprain) and Quincy Wilson ( high ankle sprain) will be held out of practice until at least Wednesday, then reevaluated. Wilson's ankle did not have much swelling on Sunday, but both players will be day to day until later in the week.
A number of other players suffered a variety of bumps and bruises, but all are expected to practice this week.
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Rodriguez said he hasn't given consideration to a possible bowl opponent, or a possible rematch with Maryland in the Gator Bowl.
"I haven't though about a rematch with Maryland and don't even want to speculate about it," Rodriguez said. "That's putting the cart before the horse."
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Rodriguez was pleased with the effort of the defensive line, which went with a four man rotation for much of the game.'
"They battled their tails off. We didn't have a whole lot of success rushing the passer, but we played hard. I've really been impresed with Ben Lynch (who played both tackle and nose during the game). Ben is the best conditioned lineman we've had, but he went 74 snaps. We can't have that. Warren Young is coming along, so he might play a little more, but he's not where the other guys are yet."