Much of the football talk lately has been centered around staff changes and recruiting, but the team is focused on one thing - getting revenge on Syracuse.
Smith was sacked nine times in the last two games versus Syracuse.
"With Syracuse, we have some unfinished business," said head coach Dana Holgorsen this week. "We didn’t play well when we went up there and that was the turning point with Geno (Smith), as far as what they did defensively. They do have good players, but their scheme got us a little bit. We’ll see how much improvement we made on specific looks."
The biggest issue the last two years was how West Virginia's offense struggled to handle the aggressive style of the Syracuse defense. According to Holgorsen, the Orange will still be coming after Geno Smith and Company.
"That is what they do; I doubt they are going to change what they do," said Holgorsen. "They are pretty good at it. They do a good job defensively. They get a lot of tackles for loss, they blitz a lot and they sack the quarterback a good bit."
In fact, Syracuse led the Big East in tackles for loss this year with 90 stops behind the line of scrimmage. That was without 2012 First Round Draft Pick Chandler Jones, who helped lead an Orange defense that sacked Geno Smith nine times in the last two games.
"I am glad they don't have Chandler Jones, because he was tough to block," said Holgorsen.
Even without the current New England Patriot, Holgorsen says it will be important for Geno to read the blitzes and make adjustments.
"He has matured a bunch, and from a scheme standpoint, he is going to be able to see that and make some pretty good checks," said Holgorsen. "I feel comfortable about that."
The defense may have been what caused issues for WVU in the past, but Syracuse is a more well-rounded team this year, led by quarterback Ryan Nassib.
"They're a very good offensive football team," said Holgorsen. "(Ryan Nassib) just keeps getting better and better. He has worked his way up, much like Geno, to where he is going to be a top draft pick and play at the next level."
A lot of their new found success on offense is due to a more attacking scheme than in previous seasons.
"They are opening it up a little bit more," said Holgorsen. "They are moving the ball well. They're averaging 500 some yards (a game)."
"We have our work cut out for us defensively to match what they do."
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