Syracuse QB Nassib presents challenge for West Virginia
NEW YORK — Syracuse senior Ryan Nassib is the “other” quarterback in Saturday's Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
West Virginia senior Geno Smith, who has had back-to-back 4,000-yard passing seasons and likely will be the first quarterback selected in the upcoming NFL Draft, is the game's feature attraction.
All Nassib has done is set every single-season and career passing record at Syracuse except career touchdown passes, a mark held by Donovan McNabb. He's the Big East's career leader in completions and attempts.
Nassib is also 2-0 against West Virginia, something that hasn't gone unnoticed.
“That guy has a terrific arm,” Smith said of Nassib. “He's got a lot of zip on the ball. He seems to be a very smart player. I can see him out there making checks, calls and handling that system pretty well. I'm more surprised that people were actually shocked to see him do so well.”
WVU coach Dana Holgorsen was even more effusive in his praise of Nassib, a three-year starter who has amassed career totals of 9,060 passing yards and 68 touchdown passes.
“That quarterback just keeps getting better and better,” Holgorsen said. “He has worked his way up, much like Geno, to where he is going to be a top draft pick and play at the next level. I would assume they trust their quarterback because he just keeps getting better. The better he gets, the more they allow him to do.”
Under Nassib, Syracuse established single-season school records in passing offense and total offense while featuring a 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver for the second time in school history.
“Ryan has truly been amazing,” Orange offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. “Two weeks before the season started, we changed the whole offense. It was really Ryan taking a little bit that he had coming into the season and mastering it in a short period of time.”
Nassib said Hackett's offense made him better.
“With this new up-tempo offense, we're able to make big plays,” said Nassib, who directed Syracuse's offense to six 500-yard games this season, another school record. “At the beginning of the year, we had some growing pains. But as the season progressed, we started making less mistakes and more plays. I get a chance to spread it out, sling it around a little bit.”
Facing a West Virginia defense that experienced problems this year, Nassib presents a challenge.
“We make defenses make quicker decisions and make them get lined up quicker,” Nassib said. “We were able to wear defenses down. It's more fun for the offense.”
Note: WVU senior center Joe Madsen was ruled academically ineligible for the Pinstripe Bowl. Senior guard Jeff Braun will move from guard to center, junior tackle Pat Eger (Clairton) will move from tackle to guard and junior Curtis Feight will start in Eger's vacant tackle spot.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.