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Pitt vs. Syracuse: Q&A with ESPN's Dave Lamont

Had another excellent opportunity with ESPN as Dave Lamont (who is calling the Pitt-Syracuse game tonight on ESPN) was available to do a Q&A with us on the game.

Check out his answers to my questions below and, obviously, be sure to tune into the broadcast on ESPN if you're not making the trip to Syracuse.

Cardiac Hill: I think you've called baseball, basketball, and football games over your career. What's the most difficult?

Dave Lamont: Baseball is the most difficult with all the down time while waiting for pitches, especially on radio. The great ones can tell a story while the smart TV baseball broadcasters are wise to not talk all the time. Actually that rule applies to every televised sport.

The Big East is having a decent year so far with three undefeated teams in Louisville, Rutgers, and Cincinnati, and all are ranked in at least one of the major polls. If the conference season ends with one or two behemoths that have no more than one or two losses, do you think the Big East will get more respect? Or will it still be a matter of those on the outside saying those teams beat up on weak programs?

I'm a Big East guy from way back in my days with Miami in the mid 90's so I would love to see the conference get more love. But, college football is such an opinion driven sport, maybe more than any other that I think the Big East will be left behind in the debate, especially if it's an SEC team with the one loss.

Looking ahead to Pitt-Syracuse on Friday, I'm a bit concerned that despite a 1-3 record, Syracuse isn't as bad as it seems on paper. They've hung in there with some competitive teams in USC, Minnesota, and Northwestern (a combined 12-2 this season). Do you agree that Syracuse might be better than their record indicates?

I have only seen the Minnesota game (so far) and the SU offense struggled. That said, they are getting some key players back for this game and Nassib is an improved QB. Defensively, other than the Minnesota game they have not been sharp, and if I am a SU fan I'm a little worried about the way they played Stony Brook. The game with Pitt seems like a very even matchup and an excellent indicator of how good both teams are.

Pitt has been a bit of an enigma this season with the Youngstown State loss but the fairly easy win over Virginia Tech. Do you still think the chance for a conference title exists or are the Panthers a bit short of the heavyweights?

The Tech win wasn't helped by Cincinnati beating them. I think Pitt is just half a beat behind the top teams but no team in the Big East has endured more trauma in the past few years with the coaching changes. I just hope Paul Chryst sticks around.

Based on what you've seen from the Cuse, what are some areas Pitt can try to exploit on Friday?

I am a huge Ray Graham fan so no matter who I play he gets the ball as much as possible. The Orange have done a good job defending the pass for the most part. On defense, I will fall back on one of the oldest cliches ever, stop the run. Doug Marrone loves to have the ball thrown around but if you can make any team one dimensional you can exploit that by disguising defenses and pressuring the QB. The Orange loves to throw to tight ends and Alec Lemon is an excellent receiver.

Quarterback Ryan Nassib looks to be the real deal. He's second in the nation in passing yardage and is really the one guy in my mind that Pitt has to focus on. It's early in the year, but where you would you put his NFL Draft prospects at this point?

I will defer to Mel Kiper, Jr on this one. He ranks Nassib 13th among draftable QB's. I also defer to Mel because he's the only other ESPN talent whose hair is in the same league as mine.

Finish this sentence - Pitt comes out on top Friday night if ...

They manage the Dome noise well, Sunseri being a veteran QB is helpful....pressure the turnover battle...

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