"I don't think we had them third-and-5-plus,'' Casteel said. "They were really successful on first down running the football. And then if we did have some success on first down, they'd dump a ball out for 6 or 7 yards and it was third-and-2. They executed just the way they wanted to do it.
"They did a great job preparing for us. And obviously we didn't do a good enough job preparing for them.''
The only time Syracuse had a bad second-down situation was early in the fourth quarter with the score already 35-16. A penalty - the Orange only had three - made it second-and-18, but tailback Antwon Bailey lofted a rainbow pass down the field that no Mountaineer could reach. It went for a 20-yard gain.
Syracuse did manage to trick West Virginia a few times, but in a very conventional way. The Orange would pound the ball between the tackles or use swing passes to keep the defense near the line of scrimmage, and then go over the top. They weren't long passes, but they didn't have to be.
Of Nassib's four TD passes, three were to comically wide-open receivers. He also had another wide-open pass dropped in the end zone. Tight end Nick Provo caught three of the scoring passes.
"We have to learn from it. You have to learn from this,'' Casteel said. "We have to get better, and obviously we're not there yet.''
West Virginia might have been lulled into a false sense of security after solid performances as against Bowling Green and Connecticut, who averaged just 246 total yards against WVU. But against a team that didn't make mistakes - Syracuse had one major penalty and no turnovers - the Mountaineers couldn't get off the field.
They get another chance a Saturday against Rutgers, another offensively challenged team (111th in rushing, 97th in total offense) that will be playing at home with something to prove. The Scarlet Knights lost 16-14 at Louisville Friday night.
"Everybody's embarrassed,'' Casteel said. "The coaches are embarrassed, the kids are embarrassed. We were on national TV and Syracuse put it to us. Hopefully we'll be excited to play Rutgers and put this behind us.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.