News and notes related to the Syracuse-West Virginia game trickling in today. Let's do things.
This week's winner of "The Bone?" Mike Holmes, who wrests the honor from usual winner Derrell Smith. The Bone is of course the award for the defensive player who has the biggest hit each game and comes from the mind of DC Scott Shafer. Shafer was called out for praise by West Viriginia "CEO" Bill Stewart in regards to Syracuse's rejuvenated defense.
"This guy, Scott Shafer, their coordinator, is helter skelter. They line up in different fronts and coming after you."
Stewart also had kind, albeit slightly uncomfortable, words for the effort that Syracuse players have been putting forth all season:
"What I saw on film against Minnesota, Northwestern, Maine, every game, even Penn State - Penn State's a good football team and Syracuse gave them a pretty good battle - is young men straining and playing hard."
Keep on straining, young men. One guy who's been straining particularly well is Mike Williams. We all know Mike is having a tremendous year, but are you aware with just how tremendous he's doing at this standpoint?
Williams is on pace to catch 98 passes this season for 1,495 yards and 12 touchdowns. If he hits those marks, Williams will obliterate school records for most catches and receiving yards in a season. He could also break former Pitt receiver Larry Fitzgerald’s Big East record of 92 catches in 2003.
Despite playing in an offense not based in Cincinnati, Williams leads every receiving category in the Big East and is ranked among the national leaders. Williams is seventh nationally with an average of 8.2 catches per game; he’s fifth nationally in receiving yards per game at 124.6; and he’s third nationally in total receiving yards with 623.
Check the stats yourself. As good as Minn's Eric Decker looked against us and has looked all year, Williams isn't very far behind him in receptions or yardage. ESPN's Brian Bennett even says Williams is the best receiver in the conference right now, ahead of Cincy's Marty Gilyard.
All things considered, it's actually shaping up to be a better-than-expected year for Lavar Lobdell as well. The forgotten senior has worked his way into the rotation for four catches so far. Doesn't sound like much but remember this guy was relegated to the bottom of the depth chart in August. Nice to see he's rebounded.
Another player who deserves some kudos is kicker Ryan LICHTENSTEIN!!! The infamous former-walk-on is probably the Big East special teams player of the year so far, converting 9 of 10 field goals including the clutch Northwestern game-winner.
The Charleston Gazette does a profile piece of DE Mikhail Marinovich, he of football, hookahs and male modeling.
"I'd say I'm a football player first, then a student, shop owner and then model."
Priorities in check. So that's nice. Mikhail has six tackles, three pass breakups, a sack and a fumble recovery on the season, a year that he notes is completely different than last year in terms of atmosphere:
"I firmly believe this is a completely different team from last year," said the end. "The discipline, the higher expectations ... expecting more out of yourself, is different. It's really a changed environment."
Thanks again, Greggers.
Finally, a couple interesting tidbits from Donnie regarding the strength of schedule and attendance:
Based on cummulative opposition, Syracuse has played the 17th toughest schedule in the country among combined FBS and FCS teams. West Virginia and UConn are tied for eighth nationally for toughest schedules; Pittsburgh is 13th.
Syracuse is averaging 41,162 per home game at the Carrier Dome this season. The Orange ranks 56th nationally in average attendance. its actually only six spots behind Rutgers, which has a new stadium addition. And the Orange is five spots ahead of Connecticut. Syracuse is fourth among Big East teams overall in average attendance.