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"Well, I didn't see that coming."


That was the text message I sent to StrawHatGuy after watching Syracuse lay the smackdown on WVU.

Wow.

I'll admit that I wasn't expecting a W.  Hopeful as always, but not expecting.  I'm sure there's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said in the 850 comments on the game thread, but here's my post game impressions:

The big talk in the lead up to the game was how was Syracuse going to stop the uber prolific Geno Smith.  Apparently, you stop him the same way you stop all QBs: knock him on his kiester.  I knew getting Jones back would be big, but I never imagined he would have that much of an impact.  And not only the sacks, but the overall hits.  Honestly, there were a few they showed on replay that prolly should have been flagged.  The Orange was clearly the more physical team all game, in all aspects.  When you play like that, you'll give just about anybody trouble.

The story of the game was obviously Ryan Nassib, in particular his connections with Nick Provo.  But I think the overlooked hero was Dorian Graham.  Of course the return TD was huge, especially when WVU had just scored and looked like they were ready to settle in.  But for a guy who's had questionable hands throughout his career, he made some nice grabs on a couple of pretty poorly thrown balls by Nassib early.  If those are drops early on, who knows of Nassib has the confidence to sling it into tight spaces all game like he did.  It's a small thing, but the little things are what separates average teams from good ones.

And, finally, the coaching.  I know we're only halfway through year three of the Marrone era, but I think we can expect good things from Syracuse football for a long time to come.  To me, you can tell how well a team is coached by the way they come out of a by week.  How does the coaching staff keep the team focused?  How do they use that extra time to formulate a game plan against a tough opponent?  Syracuse came out crisp and ready to play which is a testament to Marrone and his staff.  Things like that are why Marrone will still be stalking the sidelines in 20 years and a coach like Holgerson will be relegated to being somebody's QB coach in a year or two.

I will, though, take this win with an itty-bitty grain of salt.  It's a huge win, no doubt.  But I also think that WVU isn't quite as good as everyone thought.  Aside from LSU and Syracuse, the only other team they've played that's over .500 is Norfolk State.  Also, Syracuse brought it's A++ game.  Aside from 3 penalties and that one drop by Provo, it was a flawless game all around.  I chalk it up to the Orange getting up for a big game.  And that's great.  But I also know that it's nearly impossible to play that way all the time.  We've all seen that Syracuse can win against mediocre competition when playing less than perfect ball.  And we've seen what happens when they don't come to play.  It'll be interesting to see how Marrone and his staff take the high of this win and use it to focus the team on the next game and the one after.

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