My memory is a bit fuzzy, but at one point earlier this season, West Virginia might have been considered a serious Big 12 title contender by some people.
Swing and a miss.
It’s appropriate then that WVU ended a disappointing season getting knocked around 38-14 by former Big East foe Syracuse in a snowy Yankee Stadium. The Orange did everything short of hang 70 on West Virginia like the Mountaineers did in the Orange Bowl last January against Clemson.
The game was supposed to be a display of two great quarterbacks in Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib. As it turned out, neither was much more than pedestrian. Nassib struggled early before it became apparent that he would not be needed to win as Syracuse’s ground game was enough, and Smith was once again pressured successfully by the Orange’s defense. Smith also had a couple inaccurate throws and a couple drops. Penalties (10 for 104 yards) were momentum killers. In all, nothing was ever in sync for Smith or the WVU offense, which was missing starting center, Joey Madsen.
Smith finishes 0-3 as a starter against the ‘Cuse, primarily because Doug Marrone‘s team has been so successful in getting to him behind the line of scrimmage. Syracuse’s defense was en fuego again today by forcing two safeties. Additionally, the Orange managed to keep Tavon Austin, WVU’s shifty do-it-all offensive weapon, out of the end zone.
As explosive as WVU’s offense has been at times in the past two years, Syracuse has figured out a way to slow it to a near crawl. It’s also clear by now that the Mountaineers never had many playmakers outside of Smith, Austin, Stedman Bailey and Karl Joseph on defense. Heading into 2013, the former three offensive players are gone.
At least the Mountaineers won’t be one of the most overrated teams in 2013 like they were this season.
An off-field incident will lead to some on-field attrition, at least for the short-term, for West Virginia.
Starting left guard Adam Pankey (pictured, large player lifting Smallwood) was arrested earlier this month and charged with driving under the influence following a one-car accident. Dana Holgorsen has confirmed that Pankey has been suspended and will remain that way through at least the opener Sept. 3.
“We hold these guys to high expectations,” the head coach said. “When you don’t meet those, there are going to be consequences. He’s currently suspended from the team. That’s disappointing. He will continue his suspension through Missouri, and we’ll address it at that time.”
Pankey has started 25 games the past two seasons. He started 13 at left tackle in 2014, and 12 at left guard in 2015.
Jim Harbaugh had previously confirmed that two of the three Michigan football players not present for a team photo earlier this month — wide receiver Ahmir Mitchell, running back Kareem Walker and defensive lineman Shelton Johnson — had been suspended, although he declined to specify which two. A couple of weeks later, one of those players has apparently exited the program.
On his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon, Mitchell announced that he is “reopening my recruitment to all Universities and football programs.” It’s unclear if the wide receiver has received a release from his UM scholarship.
“I love what U of M had to offer me but, what is best for me and my family comes first,” Mitchell wrote.
A four-star 2016 recruit, Mitchell was rated as the No. 5 player at any position in the state of New Jersey and the No. 167 player overall on 247sports.com‘s composite board. He was an early enrollee who participated in spring practice.,
With the opener a little over a week way, Eastern Michigan’s quarterback situation is in a significant state of flux.
The Detroit Free Press has reported that Brogan Roback has been suspended by EMU head coach Chris Creighton. The only reason given was “a violation of our policies.”
EMU opens the 2016 season Sept. 3 against Mississippi Valley State, and it appears Roback will miss at least that contest.
“With the privilege of being a member of the Eastern Michigan University football program there are expectations and standards to which we hold our student-athletes accountable,” a portion of a Creighton’s statement sent to the Free Press read.
Roback took over for Reggie Bell as the Eagles’ starting quarterback after Week 1 last year. He threw for 2,304 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in completing exactly 60 percent of his passes.
Bell transferred after the 2016 season, leaving Roback as the presumptive starter. With Roback’s suspension, it leaves EMU with four scholarship quarterbacks — junior Todd Porter, freshman Isaac Stiebeling, and redshirt freshmen Anton Skupin and James Pensyl. Only Porter, a junior college transfer, has experience at the collegiate level, and would presumably take over as the starter in Roback’s absence.
Not surprisingly, Ryan Finley‘s stay in Raleigh has been extended.
North Carolina State confirmed Tuesday that Finley has been granted an additional season of eligibility by the NCAA. Finley received a medical waiver from The Association that will give him a sixth year if he ultimately chooses to use it.
So, in summation, Finley has three years of eligibility remaining beginning this season and running through the 2018 season.
In April of this year, the quarterback announced that he had decided to transfer from Boise State. A month later, he moved on to NC State as a graduate transfer.
Finley started the first three games last season as a redshirt sophomore for the Broncos before suffering a broken ankle and losing the job he won in the summer to Freshman All-American Brett Rypien, with the latter further solidifying his hold on the position this spring and triggering the transfer decision.
On the depth chart the Wolfpack released earlier this week, Finley was listed as the co-starter along with redshirt sophomore Jalan McLendon.