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FB : ONSLAUGHT: Syracuse shocks No. 11 West Virginia with outstanding offensive performance

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Despite a 26-point lead over the No. 11 team in the country, Doug Marrone continued to pace. Arms crossed, play card clenched tightly in his right hand, the Syracuse head coach remained stoic late in the fourth quarter as his program inched closer and closer to its biggest win in nine seasons.All around him, his players couldn’t contain their euphoria as they not only beat, but thrashed a West Virginia team thought to be the class of the Big East.With 17 seconds remaining, the headset finally came off. With 10 seconds left, the play card containing Friday’s masterful game plan was folded up and stowed away. And as the final five seconds ticked off the clock, Marrone began his slow jog across the field.But upstairs — in the Syracuse coaches box — the celebration was long underway.‘I was screaming and yelling the whole dang game,’ SU offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. ‘I was like a fan up there.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHackett’s emotions matched those of the Syracuse (5-2, 1-1 Big East) players, as the 14-point underdogs whipped, demolished and manhandled West Virginia en route to a 49-23 upset. The offense was superb against the Mountaineers, putting together its most complete performance of the season behind five total touchdowns by quarterback Ryan Nassib. An efficient and effective unit capitalized on all five of its trips to the red zone, dominating the clock to keep the Mountaineers’ (5-2, 1-1 Big East) offense on the sideline.A crowd of 45,265 — the largest since Marrone’s first game as head coach — was treated to a victory over the highest-ranked opponent since Syracuse knocked off No. 8 Virginia Tech in triple overtime back in 2002.Syracuse took control of the game from the onset, as Nassib brilliantly assembled lengthy touchdown drives to build a 14-3 lead in the opening 20 minutes. The first scoring drive was 14 plays, covered 84 yards and took more than six minutes off the clock. The second was 14 plays, covered 80 yards and spanned 5:53.It was, essentially, a perfect beginning.‘The one thing we were able to do tonight was keep things manageable,’ Marrone said. ‘I think when we can keep things manageable, then you have a chance to be successful.’The first two drives were defined by Syracuse’s ability take advantage of manageable third-down situations. SU converted four third downs on those first two possessionscombined, all of which were 5 yards or less.Hackett made full use of his offensive personnel to keep the West Virginia defense off balance. On the first touchdown drive alone, eight different skill players touched the ball for the Orange — in addition to Nassib.By the time the game ended, Nassib (24-of-32, 229 yards, four touchdowns) had spread the ball around to nine different receivers. Three different running backs combined for 178 yards rushing.‘We had a great plan,’ Nassib said. ‘We did a good job mixing up pass and run. The running game was doing well, and usually when that does well in our system that opens the passing game. And that’s really how we were able to move the ball so well.’The mixture worked brilliantly, especially in the red zone. Both Marrone and Hackett said they saw something on tape that the SU tight ends could exploit inside the West Virginia half of the field. And by game’s end, all four of Nassib’s touchdown passes found the hands of either Nick Provo or David Stevens.Provo, Syracuse’s starting tight end, gashed the middle of the West Virginia defense for six catches — three of which were touchdowns. He was left alone in the back of the end zone off a play-action fake for his first score, left alone along the left sideline courtesy of a blown coverage for his second and hauled in another play-action pass on a crossing route to give the Orange its largest lead of the game.David Stevens hauled in a 29-yard touchdown when he, too, was left uncovered by the Mountaineers along the sideline.‘They have a great offensive coach as far as game plan,’ West Virginia linebacker Najee Goode said. ‘He’s one of the best that we’ve played against. I’m not going to take anything away from Syracuse.’The play of the Orange’s tight ends was coupled with timely runs by Antwon Bailey, who finished with more than 100 yards for the fourth straight game, and acrobatic catches by Dorian Graham, Jarrod West and Alec Lemon.An offense that succeeded on whatever play was called hung 49 points on one of the top 20 defenses in the country. An offense that turned the ball over five times against Rutgers was reborn only three weeks later, as Friday’s fluidity and grace culminated in the team’s highest point total since 2003.So following Marrone’s humble jog across the field when the game was over, the three pats on the back from West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen were an acknowledgement of a job well done. Holgorsen’s Mountaineers had been thoroughly beaten, and Marrone and the Orange deserved all the credit.‘They outplayed us and outcoached us,’ Holgorsen said. ‘It’s as simple as that.’mjcohe02@syr.edu Published on October 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Michael: mjcohe02@syr.edu | @Michael_Cohen13center_img Commentslast_img read more

Syracuse’s Spring Game to give quarterbacks last pre-training camp audition

first_imgThe quarterback picture is becoming a bit clearer for quarterbacks coach Tim Lester. He and head coach Scott Shafer are still far from a decision, but some separation is starting to be made.The starter will get 85-90 percent of the reps in practice. The leader in the clubhouse, Terrel Hunt, currently gets 40 percent. But it’s still progress.“We’ve had pretty good repetitions with all three of those kids,” Shafer said. “I think Terrel and Charley (Loeb) have kind of been battling the last few days and doing some good things, so it’s good to see that the competition’s kind of on the rise. But we have a lot of time.”On Saturday, though, Shafer will essentially be forced into naming a favorite when the Orange plays its annual Spring Game at noon in the Carrier Dome. Hunt has taken the most snaps with the first team in each of the last two open practices and appears to be the favorite to do the same Saturday. But Loeb and John Kinder don’t sit far behind. Both have taken about 30 percent of the first-team snaps.For three quarterbacks who have extremely limited game experience — or none at all — the Spring Game gives them their first test of real game-style action.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“It’s good to see the live game,” Shafer said.For now, Lester tries to simulate live action.On Sunday, he gave his quarterbacks reps in the red zone. Some throws were bad — Hunt threw his first few into coverage — but they improved. Hunt eventually threw a touchdown to fullback Clay Cleveland on a swing pattern and Kinder hit a man for a touchdown on a crossing route.“None of them have any game experience, so they can’t be in those situations enough,” Lester said. “So they were really bad the first time, they were a little bit better the second time and the third time, they were better.”But it was a throw Loeb made that stood out the most to Lester.Two days before, Syracuse brought a blitz at Loeb. The quarterback tried to throw over the pass rush. His pass got batted and picked off. On Sunday, he recognized the blitz and hit a man in the flat.“I just like watching them make decisions under pressure, and when the defense brings pressure, are they working away from the pressure?” Lester said. “Do they have answers? You really never have enough of those situations.”At this point, naming a quarterback for the spring seems a mere formality. No matter who gets the call Saturday, the other two won’t be far behind.And there’s the transfer waiting in the wings. It’s entirely possible that the starter when the Orange opens its season against Penn State won’t be any of the three on the roster but Drew Allen, a transfer from Oklahoma. Normally, naming a starter for the Spring Game is a telling sign of what’s to come, but for SU this year, it’s difficult to read much into it.“If they name a guy – that’s the guy they name coming out of spring, doesn’t mean they can’t name a new guy out in fall, I know how it works,” Loeb said. “It’s always competitive.”Still, Saturday represents a step. Lester said he gives the player who looks the best the most reps to challenge him and see how he performs with extra scrutiny.The format of the Spring Game has yet to be entirely determined, Shafer said, but “it’s going to be some sort of a game.” The first team will get some reps together, but players fighting for a job on the first team will get a chance, too. Whoever gets the call to run the first team will be under a bit of extra pressure, but it’s still a better place to be than chasing, like the other two.“It’s been a good competition. I wish we could do this a lot longer,” Lester said. “Spring ball’s just flying.” Comments Published on April 18, 2013 at 12:36 am Contact David: dbwilson@syr.edu | @DBWilson2 Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more