MORGANTOWN -The last time West Virginia's defense lined up across from the Syracuse offense, Orange junior quarterback Ryan Nassib had himself a near-career day, completing 24-of-32 attempts for 229 yards and four touchdowns in a 49-23 rout over the No. 11 Mountaineers last fall at the Carrier Dome.
Now, the senior leader of the Orange will face a Mountaineer prevent unit rated one of the worst in NCAA D-I, surrendering 470.8 yards per outing -340.9 through the air -as well as 38.1 points per game.
"They (Syracuse) are opening it up a little bit more," WVU second-year head coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They trust the quarterback more. Their receiver skills are better than they were last year.
"It just looks like they opened it up a little bit more because they trust him (Nassib) a little bit more, I guess."
Not exactly the words most Mountaineer fans were hoping to hear as their beloved old gold and blue look to end a two-game skid against the Orange and its head coach, Doug Marrone.
"They are moving the ball well," said Holgorsen. 'Shoot, they're averaging 500 and some yards. Their points don't add up because they are averaging 29 points a game.
"Their yards are pretty good. I would assume they trust their quarterback because he keeps getting better. The better he gets, the more they allow him to do."
And why wouldn't the Syracuse faithful put their hopes on Nassib? All he has done during his final season with the Orange is complete 283-of-448 attempts for 3,619 yards and 24 touchdowns with only nine interceptions.
The senior holds every single-season and career passing record (except career TD passes) in Syracuse history, including most attempts, completions, and yards. He also has 3,748 yards of total offense in 2012, another Orange season record.
Nassib's 780 career completions ranks him atop the Big East's record book while his 68 touchdown passes places him at No. 3 behind Miami's Ken Dorsey's 86 (1999-2002) and Syracuse's Donovan McNabb's 77 (1995-98).
But, he won't be facing a Mountaineer defense lining up in a 3-3-5 stack alignment as former defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel departed Morgantown to take over as the defensive coordinator at Arizona following last year's 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
The veteran signal-caller won't even be facing the coach that opened the season as the defensive coordinator of WVU's new 3-4 defense - Joe DeForest.
That post now belongs to former Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Keith Patterson.
"Once the Kansas game was over, whatever was going to happen, there was no sense in wasting time with it," explained Holgorsen. "That was giving coach Patterson about two and a half weeks to coach and teach. There is no sense in pushing the pause button when you know you are going to do something at the end of the season. It gave us an opportunity to start moving forward. It happened about 8 a.m. on Sunday after the Kansas game."
Those changes, however, may not be noticeable to the average fans. Not at first, at least.
"Not much," added the coach. "Keith has always been a 3-4 multiple attacking, blitzing and doing different coverages. We have been doing specific stuff like that all year.
"There will be some changes. There will be some noticeable changes. I can tell you what they are, but if you print them, the people up at Syracuse are going to start working on it. We have had good talks, and I like where it is at."
Mountaineer fans will be hoping those changes will make a difference between losing a third straight game to the Orange or ending the season with a three-game winning streak.