Geno Smith Expects To Lead A Deeper Offense This Season - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Geno Smith Expects To Lead A Deeper Offense This Season

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MORGANTOWN -

West Virginia University got a lot of attention from its future Big 12 opponents when it hammered Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl. That score and that performance has generated tons of buzz and conversation about the WVU offense in 2012.

Quarterback Geno Smith believes he will have a deeper offense to work with this fall, "Obviously we have our top guys, Stedman Bailey, Ivan McCartney and Tavon Austin," Smith said. "But, I think the depth really helps us out a lot. Ryan Nehlen did a great job subbing in for Stedman and made some great catches last year. We have a lot of freshmen who are able to play and a lot of potential."

Take veteran players like Bailey, Austin and McCartney. Add in some other veterans who had a solid spring like Nehlen and J.D. Woods. Then sprinkle in some very talented freshmen and this offense could indeed be deeper than the one that scored 70 in the Orange Bowl last season.

Freshmen like Jordan Thompson and Will Johnson could see quite a bit of playing time this fall. Thompson enrolled early and was able to participate in the spring. He appeared to catch on to the offense quickly and as a result, earned a lot of praise from his coaches and teammates.

Will Johnson could find a lot of success in this offense. He is a tight end/inside receiver hybrid type of player. Many WVU coaches compare him to New England Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski had a feast against opponents due to the severe mismatch he had on his opponents. Few linebackers could cover him downfield and Gronkowski's above average hands allowed him to make big plays.

"It's a very fair comparison," Geno Smith said of Johnson. "He has a big body and moves well in space. He is able to catch the ball with his hands and he comes in with the mentality that he is going to start. Obviously he is a freshman and it is going to be tough for him, but the fact that he wants it as much as we do as seniors is very impressive."

Look for other receivers like KJ Myers, Dante Campbell, Devonte Robinson and Devonte Mathis to also make some noise in the competition for playing time.

Not only does WVU appear to be deeper at receiver, but the Mountaineers should have a solid backfield with more depth in 2012.

Dustin Garrison played in 12 of 13 games last season. The only game he failed to start was the Orange Bowl following a torn ACL suffered the week of the game. Garrison rushed for 742 yards and six touchdowns as a freshman in 2011. Andrew Buie played in 11 of 13 games last season. He also dealt with an injury earlier in the season that prevented him from playing in two games. Buie racked up 172 yards rushing and one touchdown as a freshman last season. Shawne Alston added 416 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior in 2011.

Those three experienced backs are healthy to begin the 2012 season. Buie, Alston and Ryan Clarke handled the ball in the spring while Garrison was rehabbing his knee. All three are back and ready to compete for the starting job.

"I think it is wide open," Smith said of his running backs. "I think those guys are going to be the key to our offense as long as they continue to run hard and get those gritty yards. (Andrew) Buie is a big play guy, Dustin (Garrison) is a big play guy, even Shawne (Alston) had a carry for about 60 yards and surprised himself. As long as those guys continue to help us out in the run game and continue to do what is right, run it when we have to and pass it when we have to, I think we will be a good offense."

Smith certainly sounds confident in his offensive teammates. He is one of nine returning starters from the 2011 team that won 10 games. Smith and his skill players have been working all summer on their timing and communication in 7-on-7 drills against the defense. Training camp begins on Thursday and that is when we will begin to see just how deep this offense actually is this season.

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