WVU-Syracuse Game Preview

West Virginia faces a revamped Syracuse team in the highly-anticipated 2005 opener on Sunday.

BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: SU 30-22
Sun 9/4/05, 1:30 pm
Syracuse, NY.

Carrier Dome
Record: 0-0
Poll Rank: NR
Last Game
Fla. St. 18-30

Returning Lettermen
Defense: 13
Offense: 14
Click Syracuse forecast
Record: 0-0
Poll Rank: NR
Last Game
Ga Tech 14-51
Returning Lettermen
Defense: 14
Offense: 11
Rosters/ Bios
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Season Stats
2005 Schedule
First Meeting: 1945
Last Meeting: 2004
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2005 Schedule

Common Opponents to Date:



WVU - Erick Phillips (Knee) Out, Dwayne Thompson (Leg), Questionable

Syracuse - None reported

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. Syracuse defense

Game Info
WVU 0-0, 0-0
SU 0-0, 0-0
Sun 9/4/05 1:30 pm
Carrier Dome
Series: SU leads 30-22-0
BCS: WVU-na: SU-na
Line: SU -1.5
Stats & Trends
The Orange struggled on defense in 2004. That performance was the final straw that led to the end of the Paul Pasqualoni era and ushered in Greg Robinson and his staff. Robinson, known as a defensive mastermind, will attempt to improve a defense that ranked 101st in the nation just a season ago. When asked what the biggest difference will be in the 2004 and 2005 Orange defense Coach Robinson said, "We're going to be a great tackling team. We will tackle well. We will have people at the ball. I like to believe that the more people you have around the ball the more opportunity you have for turnovers. That's our game."

Leading Robinson's troops in the defensive trenches will be left end James Wyche (6-6, 267). Wyche was All-Big East second team selection in 2004 and ranks eighth on the Orange all-time tackles list for down linemen with 145 stops. Holding down the right end position will be Ryan LaCasse (6-3, 249).

At the tackle positions are Chris Thorner (6-4, 312) and Kader Drame (6-5, 290). Horner, a junior, is in his first year as a regular starter, while Drame looks to have another solid performance against the Mountaineers. In last year's contest, the senior blocked a 23-yard field goal attempt and recorded one pass breakup.

Kelvin Smith (6-2, 232) leads an excellent linebacking corps coming into the new season. Smith is the only one of the starting linebackers to start every game during the 2004 season. The athletic junior recorded eight tackles against WVU last year. Playing the strong side linebacker will be Kellen Pruitt (6-4, 228). Pruitt started nine games last season and registered 80 stops, good for fourth best on the team. Manning the weak side is Tommy Harris (6-2, 233), who enters his first season as a starter and looks to improve on his total of 12 tackles from last season.

The top playmaker in the Orange defensive backfield is Anthony Smith (6-1, 194). Smith recorded 85 tackles a season ago and has been rated 12th-best free safety in the nation by The Sporting News. Joining Smith at the safety position is Dowayne Davis (6-0, 196). Davis, a converted cornerback, produced seven tackles in limited action last season.

Starting at the cornerback positions will be Tanard Jackson (6-1, 187) and Steve Gregory (5-11, 178). Jackson, a junior, is Greg Robinson's best cover man. The Silver Spring, Md., native recorded 56 stops and two interceptions in 2004. Gregory, one of the leading wide receiver last season, makes the switch to cornerback where he played during the 2003 season.

By the numbers (2004 Final Stats):
WVU is ranked 26th in total offense (418.92 yds/game), 7th in rushing offense (252.83 yds/game) and 104th in passing offense (166.08 yds/game).

SU is ranked 101st in total defense (426.83 yds/game), 86th in rushing defense (186.67 yds/game) and 97th in passing efficiency defense (138.27 rating).

Advantage: Push

WVU defense vs. Syracuse offense

Coach Robinson and offensive coordinator Brian Pariani used the off season to implement the "west coast" offense, switching from Coach Pasqualoni's triple option attack.

The key component to any passing style offense is the quarterback, and the man at the helm will be second-year starter Perry Patterson (6-4, 240). Patterson finished the 2004 season with 1851 yards on 168-289 passing with seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The junior signal caller was impressive in last year's contest, completing 23-of-37 passes for a career-best 249 yards.

Taking over the starting running back position for the departed Walter Reyes will be Damien Rhodes (6-0, 211). Rhodes was the leading rusher in 2004 with 870 yards including 10 rushing scores. The senior was also ranked third in receiving with 18 receptions. Leading the way for Rhodes is fullback Stephan McDonald (6-0, 248). McDonald missed the 2004 season with a broken leg.

On the receiving end of Patterson's passes will be flankers Tim Lane (6-2, 213), Landel Bembo (5-9, 165) and tight end Joe Kowaleski (6-3, 258). Bembo and Kowaleski combined for 28 receptions but failed to reach paydirt in 2004. Look for highly recruited freshman wide receiver Bruce Williams (5-11, 180) to also see some action.

The offensive line returns three starters from last year's solid unit. Steve Franklin (6-5, 319), Jason Greene (6-6, 288) and Quinn Ojinnaka (6-5, 292) return from a unit that allowed just 19 sacks a season ago, good for second fewest in the Big East. Joining this trio of seniors will be tackle Kurt Falke (6-6, 295) and center Justin Outten (6-1, 284), both first time starters.

By the numbers (2004 Final Stats):
WVU is ranked 37th in total defense (339.33 yds/game), 50th in rushing defense (141.08 yds/game) and 20th in passing efficiency defense (107.62).

SU is ranked 78th in total offense (349.003 yds/game), 31st in rushing offense (178.75 yds/game) and 100th in passing offense (170.25 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU special teams vs. Syracuse special teams

Both Mountaineer and Syracuse fans will could find this matchup interesting on Sunday, as many players on both sides of the field will get their first chance on special teams at the collegiate level.

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Handling the punting duties for the Orange will be Brendan Carney (6-5, 204). Carney was a Second Team All Big East performer in 2004, averging 42.8 yards per punt. The junior currently ranks second on the Syracuse all-time punting average list at 42.9 yards.

The starting place kicking spot has come down to a battle between Ricky Krautman (5-9, 174) and a pair of true freshmen, Morgantown native Patrick Shadle (5-10, 195) and John Barker (5-8, 148). Krautman, who will probably get the starting nod, has yet to connect on a collegiate field goal or extra point.

Returning kickoffs and punts will be Steve Gregory (5-11, 178) and Landel Bembo (5-8, 163), respectively. Gregory, a senior, will be seeing his first action as a kick returner while Bembo had 14 punt returns in 2004 for a total of 49 yards.

By the numbers (2004 Final Stats):
WVU is ranked 92nd in net punting (33.13 yds/punt), 27th in kick returns (22.17 yds/return) and 16th in punt returns (13.54 yds/return).

SU is ranked 45th in net punting (36.47 yds/punt), 31st in kick returns (22.00 yds/return) and 96th in punt returns (6.50 yds/return)

Advantage: Push

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Jason Colson

On Defense: Mike Lorello

Totally Useless Facts:

  • Where did Syracuse get the nickname "The Orange"? Maybe you can thank a Saltine Warrior named "Big Chief Bill Orange" for the unusual moniker.
  • Since the infamous "Marvin Graves game" the Mountaineers are 6-6 against the Orange.
  • Since 1980, WVU and Syracuse have only played once in the month of September, a 30-7 victory by the Orange during the 1999 season.

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


Syracuse starts the 2005 season with new coaches, new uniforms, new name, new logo and a new attitude. Unfortunately for the Orange fans and players, it be the same result against the Mountaineers they've seen in the previous few years. The Gold and Blue will take advantage of the Orange adjusting to new schemes and sneak out the of Carrier Dome with the victory. For WVU, it will be their second straight victory in New York and their fourth straight overall in a series where the two teams have played every year since 1955.

WVU - 20 Syracuse - 17

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