MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- One year ago West Virginia played host to Connecticut and went into the half trailing and came back with a different approach. The Mountaineers were left with no other choice.
"We were totally out of whack," Coach Bill Stewart said after the game. "I was scrambling and our staff was scrambling. I've done this a long time and done a damn good job, but out of 11 years I've known Randy Edsall and UConn, what they did to us defensively was totally out of character. They blitzed every snap, every down in every situation."
UConn was playing days after cornerback Jasper Howard was stabbed and died and Stewart figured the plan protected the cornerbacks against WVU's pass, but also forced the passer, Jarrett Brown, to think fast.
Brown suffered a concussion a week earlier against Marshall. The Mountaineers had 36 plays and 14 either lost yardage or resulted in no gain.
Last week, Syracuse blitzed WVU with great success and it wasn't as surprising.
"They're really athletic and they come downhill," WVU left tackle Don Barclay said of the Orange days before the game.
"The biggest thing is they bring a lot of different blitzes. Everyone runs fire zone blitzes, but they bring different variations.
"They'll bring a corner and a linebacker one play and then a safety and a linebacker on the next. They try to trick you with stuff."
Syracuse had five sacks and chased and hit quarterback Geno Smith many times more. Stewart said Tuesday he expects more of the same in Friday's 8 p.m. ESPN2 game against UConn at Rentschler Field. Stewart reasoned Syracuse's success with "some wacky blitzes" would inspire others.
"I think they'll want to see if we can handle it and if we will handle it," Stewart said. "If we don't handle it, we're going to get more of it.
"I'm anticipating getting more blitzes throughout the year."
THE LAST time WVU lost, it traveled home from LSU in the middle of the night and didn't have a game to play the following week. The Mountaineers lost at home this past week, but have the benefit of not only playing this week, but doing so a day early.