Mountaineers Dominated on All Sides of the Ball - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Mountaineers Dominated on All Sides of the Ball

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -

There wasn't any finger pointing in the WVU locker room Friday night. There couldn't have been. The all-around poor performance made it impossible for the Mountaineers to issue to blame to any specific unit other than the whole.

In a 49-23 loss, offense, defense and special teams were each completely dominated by the opponent.

For a team that had reason to believe it was separating itself from the rest of the Big East, West Virginia looked like anything but a league favorite against Syracuse. It was a humbling experience to be brought back down to earth with such a resounding thud.

"I'm embarrassed," said Stedman Bailey, who eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark for the fifth-straight game. "I think I can speak for my team. That was a very tough loss. I'm embarrassed."

It was a game that was deemed a chance for redemption as the Mountaineers looked for a way to bring the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy back to Morgantown after its yearlong stay in Syracuse. Instead, it was one of the worst losses anyone on the team had experienced – ever.

"It's been awhile," says senior linebacker Najee Goode. "Even to high school, it's been awhile."

Goode isn't alone in his inability to remember taking such a lop-sided defeat.

"It's probably my worst loss ever," said Geno Smith, who threw two interceptions. "It's disappointing because we worked so hard. We prepared hard. We felt like we had a good game plan. We felt like we had everything to prove. It's just disappointing that we didn't come out and put our best foot forward."

In fact, West Virginia did anything but.

Syracuse had surrendered 300 yards or more through the air four times this season heading into the matchup with WVU and the Mountaineers topped that plateau as well, but it took 41 attempts. Just 24 of those were successful and two went to the wrong team.

Conversely, Holgorsen called just 24 run plays. Granted, the complexion of the game left the Mountaineers with no choice but to throw the ball. But it wasn't a blowout when it was scoreless. It wasn't a blowout when the second half began. WVU just kept the ball out of the running back's hands.

There was little consistency in the play-calling and little consistency in the execution. Holgorsen admitted to pressing a week ago in a poor first half against UConn. It looked as though he and the offense did the same Friday.

When the defense looks at what it did wrong in this debacle, it won't have to look far beyond the final score. The 49 points surrendered were the most since Penn State ran up 51 on the Mountaineers back in 1991. The Nittany Lions were the No. 8 team in the nation. Syracuse is not even ranked.

The second half surge this team has prided itself on didn't exist in any capacity in front of a crowd that hadn't seen its team beat such a highly ranked opponent in nine years.

Perhaps that's because it hadn't played one so undeserving of its ranking, on this night at least.

In recent years, the Mountaineers have made a habit of losing games in a head-scratching manner that leaves players and fans wondering how they let it get away. But this may have been the most complete loss of the bunch.

Knowing the entire team made mistakes can help the Mountaineers move on, needing a real effort from top to bottom to regroup and again contend for the Big East crown.

"You can definitely play better, you can definitely get better," says Goode. "As of now, the Sunday practice, that's what it's going to be about. It's going to be about going back to the chalkboard."

Goode and the Mountaineers may need to erase the majority of what they see on the chalkboard and rewrite the plan for the five remaining conference games.

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