Sure, I may have been a little overly-critical in my initial post-game thoughts Saturday. Seven turnovers can take any decent performance and make it resemble a mess. Truth is, despite the aforementioned giveaways, the Orange still only lost by 14. Think about what the score would have been had the Orange settled down after that hectic first quarter. Sounds silly to say but, what if we ONLY committed four turnovers?
Yeah I know, rationalizing for sure. But what are the chances that happens again? Especially this week against West Virginia? The Mountaineers D is certainly not on the same level as USF. And besides, West Virginia is in the same boat as the Orange when it comes to giveaways:
The Orange and Mountaineers have each turned the ball over 14 times this season. They are ranked 107th nationally in turnovers lost. West Virginia has played one less game, so its turnovers-per-game average is higher than Syracuse.
Donnie notes that it's easy to look at Paulus and blame him for the turnovers but you should also keep in mind that Syracuse's running game, or lack thereof, has made the offense one-dimensional. Defenses can key on the pass and not worry so much about the run. And when you've got a D-line like USF, it's easy to get after Paulus without bringing the house.
As for the Mountaineers, West Virginia fumbled the ball away four times in the first half of a 35-24 win over Colorado on Thursday night. So you can imagine that the topic of the week for both squads has already been determined. All the same, West Virginia coach Bill Stewart isn't taking Syracuse or Greg Paulus lightly:
"Syracuse was in that ball game on Saturday," continued Stewart. "(Quarterback Greg) Paulus scared me to death. We're going to have to play tough, solid and conservative. We can't turn the ball over. We have to tighten it up."
"We had 16 turnovers all of last year and we have 14 right now," said Stewart. "We have had an interception every game, so we have four turnovers for us.
"But, we aren't forcing any fumbles; we're not getting the turnovers. I just hope that we can finally play a polished game, or we're going to get beat, because they're good."
All of this doesn't even take into account that Syracuse played West Virginia extremely well last year. It took all four quarters and a strong performance from Noel Devine for West Virginia to pull out the win with Jarrett Brown at QB. Now the game's in the Dome, there's a feeling like SU is due for a big win over a Big East team it hasn't beaten in a while. The Orange haven't beaten WVU since 2002, the longest one-sided stretch in the history of the series (30-26 WVU). We can win this game.