The Pinstripe Bowl is rapidly approaching, which means it’s time to start breaking it down. BH from the great blog Orange44 was kind enough to answer a few questions abut what to expect from Syracuse. You can make fun of him as much as you want on Twitter.
1. What turned this Syracuse team around this year?
It’s really boiled down to the run game. On both sides of the ball. Syracuse was able to gain more yards on the ground in the second half of the season, helping the offense. They were also able to stop more running backs in the second half of the season better. Tackling seemed to improve from barely making stops with arm tackles to wrapping up defenders and stopping them at or behind the line of scrimmage. And the defense overall definitely improved as the season moved on, which always helps.
2. How underrated is Ryan Nassib?
Well overall he was very underrated. But it seems like people have been jumping on the Nassib bandwagon lately, saying he will be a second or third round pick in the NFL Draft. I agree and think he’ll probably be taken in the 2nd round and is probably one of the top 3 QBs that will be in the draft. The guy not only had improved greatly every year he has been a starter, but he’s broken a lot of records this season at Syracuse. The guy is a top flight college QB, and should be a decent one at the next level. Hey, I hear the Jets are looking.
3. How will Marrone attack this weak WVU defense?
It all starts with the ground game. While Nassib has been the focus of the media (and subsequently Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales who are also very good), the running back corps have really been the first option for Marrone all year. Jerome Smith is a powerful back that has finished his season with four 100 plus yard games out of the last six. He has improved the most on the year. Additionally Syracuse uses Prince-Tyson Gulley (known to us all as PTG) on various downs and freshman Ashton Broyld occasionally. All have had brilliant moments on the year. And around the goal line Syracuse likes to use Adonis Ameen-Moore in what they call their “Tank” package. But after the run, obviously Syracuse heads to the air with Nassib, who should find success against the WVU defense. Statistic of Note: Syracuse is 1-0 in Pinstripe Bowls in which they use a flea flicker.
4. How will Syracuse handle the West Virginia Offense?
It all depends on how well Syracuse can pressure Geno Smith. If Syracuse is able to pressure him to hurry throws and get sacks, Syracuse’s defense will fare well overall on the day. However, if Geno is able to get loose or has a ton of time in the pocket, this game could get out of hand in favor of the Mountaineers easily. It all really rests on the linebackers. Syracuse has been able to stop the run well in the second half of the season putting pressure on the quarterbacks to do it all. That’s been too much for most of the QBs in the current Big East to handle. Geno Smith could be capable however. The Syracuse secondary is vulnerable but the linebackers have been solid this season and will try to make it hard for West Virginia to score.
5. How will Syracuse travel to NYC?
Syracuse has already come close to selling out their allotment of 10,000 tickets. I’m sure other nearby alumni will come to the game and buy tickets as well. It’s a cheap plane ride, a train ride, or a 4 hour drive to the city from Syracuse, so a good number of people from Central NY will be making the trek for sure.
I think this game is a coin flip. But based on the crowd and based on the recent history between the two teams, I’m picking Syracuse in a close, but high scoring game. Syracuse has enough solid and unbelievable combacks on their resume this season, and the WVU defense is weak enough, that I think if Syracuse had to come from behind to win they could do it. I’m picking the good guys in Orange.