If Rutgers does turn up the pressure, though, West Virginia has to do a better job of protecting Smith.
"Syracuse blitzed 75 percent of the time, which is more than I've ever been a part of,'' Holgorsen said. "And we didn't handle it for a variety of reasons.''
It was more than just an inability to block pass-rushers, although that was critical. But Holgorsen also pointed out that West Virginia wasn't able to do against Syracuse what Louisville accomplished against Rutgers. When Bridgewater was hurried he managed to get rid of the football. That's an issue of the quarterback recognizing the need to throw early and receivers identifying coverages and blitzes and being able to alter their routes.
Still, even if that happens, it would be nice if West Virginia's offensive line could make a semblance of a stand. Against Syracuse, they were often just steamrolled.
"I think we were targeted pretty good up front. There weren't just free people coming unless they were outmanning us,'' Holgorsen said. "But even when they were bringing five our guys didn't hold up in pass protection, which was discouraging.''
Louisville was just the second game this season in which Rutgers did not manage to sack an opposing quarterback. North Carolina held the Knights sackless, too. Not coincidentally, those are the two games Rutgers lost.
Granted, RU's sack numbers are inflated just a bit because of nine in the opening game against overmatched North Carolina Central, but the Knights also recorded six sacks against Pitt, two in a win over Syracuse (WVU didn't get a sack against the Orange) and even three against Navy, which seldom throws the football.
Rutgers also has 24 quarterback hurries this season and has intercepted 15 passes.
"We know what they're going to do. They're going to pressure us,'' Holgorsen said. "We just have to be able to handle it better. A week of practice can probably get us to the point where we handle it a little better.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.