WVU - SU Game Preview

The last time Syracuse visited Mountaineer Field the Orangemen sent WVU's coach into retirement. Can WVU return the favor in 2002?

Series: Syracuse leads series 30-19-0

Common Opponents: None to date

Orangemen to watch:
QB- R.J Anderson, DB - Latroy Oliver, OL- Nick Romeo, P- Mike Shafer, LB- Clifton Smith, RB- Walter Reyes, WR- Jamel Riddle.

WVU - Ernest Hunter (Leg) Out, Darnell Glover (Knee) Out, A. J. Nastasi, (Ankle) Doubtful.

Syracuse - Maurice McClain (Leg) Out, Steve Gregory (Shoulder) Probable, R. J. Anderson (Shoulder) Probable.

Game outlook:

Game Info
WVU 1-0, 4-2
SU 0-2, 1-5
Sat. 10/19 Noon
Mountaineer Field
Series: SU 30-19-0
TV: ESPN Regional
Rank: WVU-57 - SU-92
Line:WVU -7
Stats & Trends
WVU offense vs. Orangemen defense
WARNING: Do not underestimate the effect of a dislocated finger on the throwing hand of Rasheed Marshall. This is the same quarterback that was 16-24 passing against Cincinnati. This is the same quarterback that has made solid decisions all year. This is the same quarterback that has taken what he has to work with and led the Mountaineers to a 4-2 record. WVU's offensive attack will be fine and will add another dimension as soon as Marshall's finger is 100% healthy.

With that being said, the Mountaineers cannot overlook the Syracuse defense. The Orangemen have struggled, but you can bet they will be ready on Saturday.

Syracuse defensive coordinator Chris Rippon will bring a pair of fearsome linebackers to Touchdown City. Senior linebacker Clifton Smith is off to a fast start, recording 51 solo tackles, 7 of which were for a loss. Clifton's partner in crime is junior Jameel Dumas, who has racked up 40 solo tackles.

WVU's offensive line and running backs will have to be prepared to stop Clifton and Dumas when Rippon decides to blitz from his multiple set defense.

Wreaking havoc up front for the Orangemen will be 285 pound junior defensive tackle Louis Gachelin. Gachelin has already recorded 5 sacks this season and will look to add a couple more against WVU's run happy quarterback.

By the numbers:

WVU ranks 9th in total offense (451.2 yds/game), 2nd in rushing yards (300.7 yds/game) and 101st in passing yards (150.5).

Syracuse ranks 113th in total defense (492.8 yds/game), 100th in rushing defense (202.3 yds/game) and 108th in pass effiency defense (146.2 rating).

Advantage : WVU

WVU defense vs. Orangemen offense

The Orangemen's pro-option offensive attack starts with the quarterback. Unfortunately, that's exactly where the problem has been for Syracuse this year.

Junior quarterback R.J Anderson has been anything but consistent. Anderson has completed only 44.3% of his passes while throwing 7 interceptions. Anderson does pose a threat to run the ball but if the improving Mountaineer defense can stuff the Orangemen's running attack, Anderson will have a hard time when WVU knows he has to pass. If Anderson struggles early, Coach Paul Pasqualoni may opt to play senior quarterback Troy Nunes. Although Nunes has not played as much as Anderson, he has completed 62% of his passes and has a QB rating of 124.36.

Sharing the running duties for Syracuse will be Walter Reyes and Damian Rhodes. Reyes is a 5'10" 205 pound freshman that has rushed for 6.6 yards per carry and 85.3 yards per game. Rhodes, a 6'1" 195 pound freshman has been impressive as well, averaging just under 5 yards per carry and 4 TD's.

The Orangemen's receivers consists of 6'1" senior David Tyree, 5'7 speedster Jamel Riddle, and sophomore Jared Jones. Tyree has hauled in 12 passes for 142 yards and 2 touchdowns. Riddle, the Orangemen's main offensive weapon has caught 20 balls for 420 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jones and the rest of the receivers has combined for 3 TD's and 40 receptions.

By the numbers:

WVU ranks 14th in total defense (291.3 yds/game), 20th in rushing defense (107.5 yds/game) and 32nd in pass efficiency defense (108.2 rating)

Syracuse ranks 72nd in total offense (364.7 yds/game), 33rd in rushing yards (184.5 yds/game) and 88th in passing yards (180.2 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

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WVU special teams vs. Orangemen special teams

The Orangemen special teams have been outstanding at times, but they have also cost Syracuse a possible victory when sophomore placekicker Collin Barber missed an extra point to force overtime against Temple. Barber has connected on 4-7 field goals on the season with his long being 44 yards.

Returning kicks on Saturday will be a pair of freshman, Damian Rhodes and Gregory Stevens. Rhodes averages 24.77 yards/return while Stevens gains 21.1 per return. Returning punts will be wideout Jamel Riddle. Riddle is lightning fast and will look to give his team good field position. WVU's answer to the Riddle will be punter, Mark Fazzalori. Fazzolori will need to continue to place the ball inside the 20 yard line and out of bounds to take Riddle out of the return game.

By the numbers:

WVU ranks 105th in net punting (30.7 yds/punt), 29th in kickoff returns (22.5 yd

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