NEW YORK — All week, Syracuse linebacker Siriki Diabate kept hearing the same questions.
How was the Orange going to stop West Virginia’s potent offense? How were they going to slow down the presumed No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft, Geno Smith? Could the defense contain West Virginia’s talented receivers?
Diabate and his defense answered that question emphatically on Saturday, as the Orange used a stellar defensive effort in dismantling West Virginia, 38-14, in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
“All we heard was, ‘How are we going to be able to stop them?’ Diabate said. “We were very confident. We knew what we were able to do.”
The Mountaineers came in as one of the top offensive teams in the country. They averaged 41.6 points per game, good for 7th in the nation, while their passing attack was 5th at 340 yards a game.
But it became apparently early in the game that a deep passing attack wasn’t going to be effective. The ball was constantly slippery because of snow and the wind and cold made it difficult to throw the ball deep. Smith only threw for 197 yards, and the Mountaineers gained just 285 total yards.
“Obviously, (the weather) had some effect,” Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen said. “They didn’t throw for many yards either. It’s hard to pinpoint one thing. I think we did a poor job of overcoming adversity.”
While Syracuse adjusted, running the ball 65 times, West Virginia never seemed to get its ground game going. They were outgained by the Orange 369 to 88 in that department.
To be sure, Syracuse’s defense had a lot to do with it. They forced a pair of safeties and sacked quarterback Geno Smith four times. The Orange also limited the Mountaineers to a combined 0-14 on third and fourth down conversions.
“I think without throwing, our defense did a good job keeping them in long distances (on third down),” Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said.
The game mirrored last year’s 49-23 upset of then-No. 15 West Virginia.
In that game, the Orange pressured Smith all night, forcing him into two interceptions.
Heading into Saturday, the coaching staff’s game plan for containing West Virginia was simple: If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.
“Pretty much about the same,” Diabate said when asked to compare the 2011 game plan to Saturday’s. “We didn’t change nothing against those guys.”
For the third time in a row, it worked.
- ESPN’s McMenamin breaks down former Syracuse basketball stars’ NBA chances - July 2, 2015
- Coach says 2017 Syracuse commit Daewood Davis will ‘stretch the field’ — Cuse Clicks - July 1, 2015
- South Florida Bulls — 2015 Syracuse Football preview - July 1, 2015
- Syracuse picks up first 2017 commit with Daewood Davis — Cuse Clicks - June 30, 2015
- Tyus Battle likes Syracuse ‘a lot’ after his official visit — Cuse Clicks - June 29, 2015
- Syracuse target Christian Colon commits to Penn State — Cuse Clicks - June 26, 2015
- Rakeem Christmas credits Syracuse, Jim Boeheim after being drafted - June 26, 2015
- Chris McCullough predicts November return to Brooklyn Nets - June 26, 2015
- Former Syracuse center Rakeem Christmas lands with Cleveland Cavaliers - June 25, 2015
- Former Syracuse forward Chris McCullough drafted by Brooklyn Nets - June 25, 2015