WVU secondary does job against Syracuse
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - West Virginia (4-1), which plays host to Marshall on Saturday, is hoping it won't have to face another receiver as good as Syracuse's Mike Williams.
"He's a great player," WVU cornerback Brandon Hogan said after the Mountaineers beat the Orange, 34-13, on Saturday. "We didn't want him to ravage our defense, so we had a plan for him to keep someone over top of him and limit him in the first half."
Heading into the game, Williams was fifth in the country in reception yards per game (124.6) and was also best in the Big East Conference in catches per game (8.2). Coach Bill Stewart and the Mountaineers used a safety to double-cover Williams deep and also had a linebacker push him off his routes at times.
"We just made sure that we re-routed him," said WVU cornerback Keith Tandy, who covered Williams for much of the game. "If we threw his timing off, we felt they had to go to another receiver."
It worked fairly well as Williams was held to four grabs for 89 yards. It was the first time in 10 games that Williams was held under five catches. Williams, who was suspended all of the 2008 season due to academics, only caught four balls against Rutgers in 2007.
West Virginia held Williams without a catch in the first quarter. His first grab came with nearly 10 minutes gone in the second quarter.
Williams did beat WVU for one large gain — a 50-yard touchdown on the Orange's second possession of the second half. Williams got past Sidney Glover, and backup quarterback Ryan Nassib found him streaking into the end zone.
"It was a good ball — he always throws good balls," Williams said of Nassib. "It was double-covered, but the corner fell off because he thought he was saving the run, and I made a move on the safety and was wide open."
That touchdown was historic for the senior wide receiver. It was his 20th career touchdown catch, tying him for second on Syracuse's career list with Marvin Harrison. The school record is 22, a number Williams is likely to beat if he stays healthy. He already has six TD grabs this year.
"Their coaches do a nice job at moving him around and getting him the ball," said WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. "We were just trying to make sure we knew where he was — because that's where the ball was."