WVU vs Syracuse Game Preview

The Orange travel to Morgantown on Thursday night to take on the 14th ranked Mountaineers.

BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: SU 30-21
Thur 10/21, 7:30

Mountaineer Field
Record: 5-1
AP Rank: 14
Last Game: UConn
Returning Starters: 16
Defense: 8
Offense: 8
Click Morgantown forecast
Record: 3-3
AP Rank: NR
Last Game: FSU
Returning Starters: 10
Defense: 5
Offense: 4
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2004 Schedule
First Meeting: 1945
Last Meeting: 2003
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2004 Schedule

Common Opponents to Date: None


WVU - Erick Phillips (Knee) Out, Kay Jay Harris (Ankle, Hamstring, Knee) Doubtful, Josh Bailey (Shoulder) Questionable, Justin Dziak (Hamstring) Questionable, Adam Lehnortt (Ankle) Probable, Jay Henry (Ankle) Probable

Syracuse - Steve McDonald (Knee) Out, Steve Gregory (Thigh) Questionable, Kellen Pruitt (Knee) Questionable, DeAndre LeCaille (Leg) Questionable, Jared Jones (Head) Questionable

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. Syracuse defense

Former WVU defensive coordinator Steve Dunlap has his troops playing much better since their 51-0 shellacking at Purdue earlier in the season. The Orange defense held Florida State to 17 points in its last game and will look to improve on that against West Virginia.

Leading the Orange in tackles this season is Jerry Mackey (6-1, 241). Mackey has totaled 52 tackles in the first six games, including one sack and five tackles for a loss. Joining Mackey at the linebacker position will be Luke Cain (6-0, 233) and Kelvin Smith (6-2, 238). The duo has combined for 49 stops and two interceptions. Look for WVU to try and exploit the inexperience of the linebacking corps, as all three starters being sophomores.

Game Info
WVU 5-1, 1-0
SU 3-3, 1-0
Thur 10/21 7:30 pm
Mountaineer Field
Series: SU leads 30-21
BCS: WVU-20 SU-49
Line: WVU -12.5
Stats & Trends
The defensive line has been lead by junior James Wyche (6-6, 267). Wyche has posted 25 tackles, 2.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries. The Roosevelt, N.Y. native also leads the team with 7.5 tackles for a loss. Teaming with Wyche at the end position will be Juilan Pollard (6-4, 255). Pollard has 10 tackles and one pass breakup on the season.

Playing on the inside of the defensive line will be Kader Drame (6-5, 284) and Tony Jenkins (6-3, 293). Drame and Jenkins have combined for 35 stops, three pass breakups and three quarterback hurries in 2004. They have improved over the course of the season, and will be tough opponents for the shuffled Mountaineer offensive line.

The Orange defensive backfield has a nice combination of size and speed. With three of the four starters at six feet or taller, they look to have the size to compete with WVU's tall receivers.

Diamond Ferri (5-10, 215) and Anthony Smith (6-1, 187) have been active at their safety positions. The combo has totaled 88 tackles and three interceptions to go along with 6 pass breakups. Smith is also a standout on special teams, having blocked three kicks already this season.

Manning the cornerback positions will be DeAndre LaCalille (6-0, 210) and Tanard Jackson (6-1, 189). LaCalille is the team's fourth leading tackler, with 43 stops, while Jackson has recorded 21 tackles, two interceptions and four quarterback hurries.

By the numbers:
`WVU is ranked 26th in total offense (418.67 yds/game), 5th in rushing offense (260.33 yds/game) and 101st in passing offense (158.33 yds/game).

Syracuse is ranked 89th in total defense (406.50 yds/game), 84th in rushing defense (182.83 yds/game) and 78th in passing efficiency defense (131.90 rating).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. Syracuse offense

The Orange offense has been inconsistent during the 2004 season, totaling only 23 points in their three loses, while piling up 97 points in its three wins.

First year starter Perry Patterson (6-4, 242) has taken over the quarterback position from early season starter Joe Fields (6-1, 291). Patterson has completed 57.5% of his passes (69-120) for 760 yards. The sophomore signal caller has also connected on three touchdowns while suffering five interceptions. The 2002 SuperPrep All-America pick is also the third leading rusher on the team, racking up 40 yards on 22 carries.

Starting at tailback for the Orange will be All-American candidate Walter Reyes (5-10, 213). Reyes, a Heisman Trophy darkhorse entering the season, has gained 556 yards on 111 carries so far this season. The senior has reached paydirt four times and is the Orange's second leading receiver with 92 yards on 11 catches.

Damien Rhodes (6-0, 217), backup to Reyes, has added five touchdowns and averages 5.7 yards per carry.

Hauling in passes from Patterson will be a speedy group of receivers. Steve Gregory (5-11, 188), who returns this week after missing time with an injury, is Syracuse's fastest receiver. The junior has six catches for 68 yards in limited action but will look to stretch the field against the WVU secondary. Jared Jones (6-0, 205) is the Orange's leading receiver with 249 yards on 19 receptions, including one touchdown.

Starting at tight end for the Orange will be Joe Kowalewski (6-4, 262). The big junior has eight receptions for 95 yards on the season, and is a solid blocker in front of Reyes.

The Orange offensive line may be the biggest unit in the country, averaging 6'6' and 313 pounds. Senior Adam Terry (6-9, 324) leads this unit as he has started the last 29 games for Syracuse. Terry was a second-team All-Big East selection in 2003. Joining Terry at the tackle position will be Quinn Ojinnaka (6-5, 297). Ojinnaka has good hands and has been used at the tight end position on certain formations.

Manning the guard positions will be Jason Greene (6-6, 300) and Steve Franklin (6-5, 321). Franklin was a 2003 Big East All-Academic Team selection, starting 11 games for the Orange.

Starting at center will be Matt Tarullo (6-6, 326), one of the biggest snappers in the country. Tarulla has started the last 30 games for Syracuse.

By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 32nd in total defense (315.67 yds/game), 47th in rushing defense (129.67 yds/game) and 11th in passing efficiency defense (98.92).

Syracuse is ranked 98th in total offense (307.50 yds/game), 52nd in rushing offense (160.67 yds/game) and 106th in passing offense (146.83 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU special teams vs. Syracuse special teams

The Orange special teams are usually sprinkled with athleticism and speed, and this season's unit is no different. The Blue and Gold special teamers will need to have a big game and limit the Syracuse returnmen to minimal gains in order to keep the visitors at bay.

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Handling the punting and kicking duties for the Orange will be Brenden Carney (6-5, 202) and Collin Barber (6-2, 210), respectively. Carney, who was named to The Sporting News Big East All-Freshman Team in 2003, has averaged an impressive 43.5 yards on 33 punts, placing six punts inside the opponent 20-yard line. Barber has been less than spectacular on the season, connecting on 9 of 13 field goal attempts, but has been solid from inside 40 yards (6-7). The senior has a long of 46 yards and has had one attempt blocked.

Returning kickoffs for the Orange will be Damien Rhodes (6-0, 217) and Diamond Ferri (5-10, 215). The duo has combined for 15 returns totaling 378 yards. Ferri has averaged 29.5 yards with his long being 65 yards.

Landel Bembo (5-8, 168) has handled the majority of the punt returns. Bembo, a PrepStar All-Southeast Region selection as a high school senior, has totaled 52 yards on 11 returns.

By the numbers:
WVU is ranked 77th in net punting (34.53 yds/punt), 27th in kick returns (22.71 yds/return) and 10th in punt returns (15.56 yds/return).

Syracuse is ranked 29th in net punting (39.38 yds/punt), 23rd in kick returns (23.14 yds/return) and 73rd in punt returns (8.00 yds/return)

Advantage: Syracuse

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Chris Henry

On Defense: Scott Gyrko

Useless Facts:

* Fashion police? Syracuse played its first game in 1889, wearing pink and blue uniforms, SU is defeated by Rochester 36-0 to finish the year 0-1. They likely refused to play another game in those outfits.

* Thanks, but no thanks! In 1915 Syracuse received an invitation from the Rose Bowl to play Washington, but had to decline because an earlier west coast trip to Oregon State had consumed the travel budget.

* Glory days? The Orange won its first and only football national championship in 1959 by beating Texas in the Cotton Bowl.

* On the road again? Syracuse has one victory in its last twelve games against BCS teams on the road.

* Messy Marvin! This is the 12th anniversary of Marvin Graves' best pass as a Orangeman. His 1-yard pinpoint pass off Tommy Orr's helmet help lift Syracuse to a 20-17 over WVU in 1992.

Be sure to check out our Stats & Trends section for lots more match up information!


The Orange have lost to three ranked teams while beating three teams that are average at best, so it is hard to get a good read on this year's team. If this game was being played in the Carrier Dome I would have a hard time picking the Blue and Gold but since the game is being played in the friendly confines of Milan Puskar Stadium I have to go with the Mountaineers.

WVU - 34 Syracuse - 21

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