MORGANTOWN - Dana Holgorsen wasn't around a year ago when Syracuse used a ball-control offense and an opportunistic defense to stymie West Virginia and beat the Mountaineers 19-14.
He's seen the same game plan before, though.
Connecticut came in with the same kind of plan a week ago and it didn't work. Despite that, Holgorsen expects much of the same Friday night from Syracuse and coach Doug Marrone.
"They present a bunch of challenges, much like UConn did, from the style of ball that they play,'' Holgorsen said. "Coach Marrone, with his NFL background and the pro-style offense, and what they did to West Virginia last year, controlling the clock keeping our defense on the field and trying to [use different personnel] was something they had some success with. We assume they're going to do some of the same stuff.''
The teams meet Friday night at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Both teams were off last week. West Virginia brings a 5-1 overall record and a 1-0 Big East mark into the 8 p.m. game that will be televised by ESPN. Syracuse is 4-2 and 0-1.
And while Holgorsen expects much the same plan of attack from Syracuse as the Orange presented last season, Marrone, too, is pretty sure of what he's going to see from the Mountaineers. It's not exactly the same ol', same ol', but it's close.
Oh, with one exception. Geno Smith, Marrone said, makes a huge difference with the way he's playing.
"Geno Smith's playing extremely well,'' Marrone said Monday. "I think that's been the biggest difference from last year to this year. Credit him. He looks very comfortable and he's done an outstanding job with this football team.''
A year ago, Smith had his problems with the Orange. Smith threw just seven interceptions in 13 games as a sophomore, but three were against Syracuse. He completed 20-of-37 passes for just 178 yards and the Mountaineers did not score after the first quarter.
This year, Smith is on pace to shatter all of the school's passing records. He is sixth in the country in total offense and is averaging 359.8 yards passing with 16 touchdowns and just three interceptions.