Bits & Bytes: Syracuse

Our final serving of informational tidbits as West Virginia prepares to host Syracuse. Game Scorecard
Series: SU 30-25
Sat 10/11/08 Noon
Morgantown WV

Mountaineer Field
Record: 3-2
Last Game
Rutgers W 24-17

Radio: Sirius, MSN

Record: 1-4
Last Game
Pitt L 34-24
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2008 Schedule
First Meeting: 1945
Last Meeting: 2007
Press Release
Season Stats
2008 Schedule

Click for Morgantown, West Virginia Forecast


There are dozens of reasons for Syracuse's woes on the football field, but among all the ugly stats and uglier decisions one stands out – 5.1. That's the average yards per carry yielded by the Orange defense. It doesn't matter what you say about coaching, or schemes, or anything else. If you average giving up a first down for every two opponent rushes, you're going to lose a lot of games. And if West Virginia averages 5.1 yards per run on Saturday, it's going to win – handily.


Head coach Bill Stewart assures us that there is much more in the offense for Jarrett Brown than we have seen so far this year. That may be true, but that shouldn't be the focal point of Brown's use in the offense. West Virginia's best passer has attempted just 10 throws this year, completing eight for 62 yards. That's not enough.

Of course, the situations in which Brown appears have something to do with his run pass ratio. WVU shouldn't be expected to pass the ball on every third and one, or throw the ball on every play when trying to grind clock in the fourth quarter. However, keeping Brown's cannon right arm under wraps would be akin to having Patrick White throw the ball on 80% of his touches. There's nothing daredevil, or dangerous, about having Brown throw the ball with a ten-point lead in the fourth quarter. Or on the occasional third and one. If he isn't allowed to do so, he's not being allowed to use his talents to the best of his ability – and that hurts the team as well.


Syracuse trumpets the fact that its football program, with 671 wins, has more victories than any other Big East school. However, it may soon have to cease with that as well, as West Virginia is closing ground with 666 all-time triumphs. A win on Saturday would draw the Mountaineers within five games of the Cuse standard, not to mention get West Virginia off that diabolical number. The two schools stand 14th and 15th, respectively, on the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision list.

One spot behind WVU? None other than Colorado, which gained ground with an overtime win earlier this year. The Buffs have 661 wins.


I know economic times are tough. And I know that West Virginia has to watch its athletic dollars carefully. But there has to be a way to get wraps or covers for the battleship gray walls at Milan Puskar Stadium.If the Friends of Coal can afford it for once-a-year appearances, then it should be possible to get some sponsors to pay for them in return for a logo or two. Heck, the Blue & Gold News would pitch in on such an effort, but for the size of our advertising budget, our logo would probably only be visible with binoculars.


While Syracuse is one of only 14 schools to play in a BCS bowl and advance to the Seet 16 in the same season, the Mountaineers are in even more select company in that category. With Sugar and Fiesta Bowl appearances in 2006 and 2008, and matching Sweet 16 advancements, WVU is one of only for teams to achieve that feat twice. Florida tops the list, having done so three times since 1996. Can you name the other two? Answer at the end of this column.


Defensive end Mikhail Marinovich is the son of noted Little League father Marv Marinovich, who famously groomed his older son Todd to be an NFL quarterback from the cradle. Marv's overbearing ways put a dent in Todd, who famously flamed out at USC and in the NFL, but Mikhail appears to have avoided those negative influences. The true freshman has recorded six tackles while earning a spot in the rotation along the defensive line.


Ohio State and UCLA are the other two schools to have accomplished that feat more than once.

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